Polycarbonate is recognised globally for being one of the toughest transparent protective materials available.
Its uses range from bullet-resistant laminates to the canopies of jet fighters, including the USA's most advanced combat aircraft ever, the F22 Raptor.
This outstandingly tough polymer, containing carbonate groups, has some more down-to-earth – but equally vital – applications in Australasia, where it is typically used for safety guards on machinery and processing lines and as vandal-resistant security glazing in commercial and industrial structures.
These are applications focused upon by the premium quality polycarbonate, Wearguard, from Cut To Size Plastics, which is precision fabricated for uses in architectural glazing, transport and process engineering, bulk handling and process machine guarding (ranging from food and beverage plants to metals and mineral processing plants).
"Wearguard is also widely used in general manufacturing and industrial applications where there is a danger of injury from sharp tools or manufactures," says Pat Flood, NSW Manager of the national and international engineered plastics specialist Cut To Size Plastics.
Available in rod, sheet or tube form, Wearguard polycarbonate is tough, lightweight, easy to handle, and can be fabricated to almost any shape. It can also be cold bent for ease of fabrication, which makes it easier to custom-engineer to fit around unique machinery shapes and hazards.
Wearguard is outstanding for its impact resistance (IZOD impact tested to 90 KGfcm/cm) and for its shock load resistance, which is many times that of acrylic clear sheet, for example. These properties make it ideal for safety or glazing applications which until recent years required the use of metal or similar material, says Flood.
Wearguard is virtually unbreakable, even where exposed to rough weather, hit by vehicles or struck with hammers. Because it resists rough handling and vandalism, Wearguard is tailor-made for situations where safety and security are paramount. It can be used for a range of applications, including:
- Viewing and protective panels and machine guards for safety in industry
- Cabin panels on heavy machinery and materials handling machinery, including forklift side screens
- Acoustic panels on expressways
- Anti-vandal glazing, security glazing, skylights, sign faces
- Shatterproof boat and marine environment windows
- Electrical guards and covers, meter covers, light covers, terminal blocks
- Sight glass tubes for observation of industrial and process liquid levels
Wearguard's transparency is related to the thickness of the sheet involved, but it consistently displays high transparency. It also offers high heat resistance and has a Melting Point of 150 degrees Celsius. It is self-extinguishing in the case of fire, enhancing its safety material attributes, and will not generate poisonous gas. It is also resistant to low temperatures and will not break in very cold environments.
"Because Wearguard is not influenced by sudden changes in temperature and humidity, it is ideal for variable weather applications, such as skylights, sign faces and institutional glazing," says Flood.
It offers excellent dimensional stability and is readily machined by cutting, drilling or bending, says Flood, adding that Cut To size offers precision cutting, routing, bending and custom-fabrication of the material to individual applications.