Distinguishing the Strength of Acrylic vs. Polycarbonate

Quick Tip: Acrylic has 17 times the impact strength of glass whereas polycarbonate has 250 times the impact strength, making Polycarbonate the far stronger material.


When it comes to selecting the right material for your project, it's crucial to consider strength as a key factor. In the realm of plastics, two contenders, acrylic and polycarbonate, stand out for their exceptional strength. In this article, we will delve into the unique strengths of both materials, helping you make an informed decision for your specific needs. 


Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is a versatile thermoplastic renowned for its strength and visual appeal. Its distinct clarity and glass-like appearance make it a popular choice for various applications, including signage, display cases, and even home décor. Below are some of acrylic's key properties associated with its strength. 

  1. Impact Resistance: Despite its elegance, acrylic is no pushover in terms of strength. It exhibits 17 times the impact resistance of glass, making it less prone to shattering compared to glass. This property ensures that acrylic can withstand heavy impacts, making it a reliable option for areas where safety is paramount. 
  2. Rigidity and Stiffness: Acrylic is know for its stiffness, lending it structural
    integrity and stability. This characteristic allows it to maintain its shape even under significant pressure or external forces. It can be relied upon for applications where  rigidity is essential, such as protective barriers, or architectural components. 
  3. Weatherability: Acrylic shines when it comes to weather resistance. It boasts excellent resistance to UV radiation, ensuring that it won't degrade or yellow over time when exposed to sunlight. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor applications, including windows, skylights, and even outdoor signage. 


Polycarbonate, also referred to as Lexan, is a heavyweight contender in the world of plastics, known for its remarkable strength and durability. Below are some of the strengths that make polycarbonate a formidable choice for various applications. 

  1. Unmatched Impact Resistance: Polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable, thanks to its exceptional impact resistance. It can withstand heavy blows
    without shattering, making it ideal for applications where safety is critical. From safety goggles to protective shields and even bulletproof windows,
    polycarbonate provides reliable protection against high-velocity impacts. 
  2. Extreme Toughness: Polycarbonate exhibits exceptional toughness, allowing it to endure extreme conditions without deformation or damage. It can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from freezing cold to scorching heat, maintaining its strength and performance. This quality makes it suitable for applications in demanding environments, including automotive parts and outdoor electrical enclosures. 
  3. Flexibility and Versatility: Polycarbonate's inherent flexibility allows it to be easily molded into various shapes and forms without compromising its strength. This versatility makes it a favorite choice for designers and engineers, enabling them to bring their creative visions to life. It can be found in products ranging from consumer electronics to medical equipment and even transparent roof panels. 


In the battle of strength between acrylic and polycarbonate, both materials showcase impressive qualities. Acrylic impresses with its impact resistance, rigidity, and weatherability, making it an excellent choice for applications that require durability and aesthetics. On the other hand, polycarbonate stands tall with its unmatched impact resistance, toughness, and versatility, making it ideal for applications where strength and endurance are paramount. Ultimately, the choice between acrylic and polycarbonate depends on your project's specific requirements 

If you're seeking a plastic distributor that can supply you with both polycarbonate and acrylic, Clearly Plastic is an ideal choice. Choosing us ensures that you will have access to a wide range of high-quality plastic materials tailored to your specific requirement. Choosing us will also give you access to our expert guidance and affords you the advantage of our precision cut-to-size services ensuring that you receive your materials tailored to the exact dimensions you require, enhancing convenience and efficiency for your projects.






Sources and Contributors

  1. Lizl Kruger, Manager Clearly Plastic
  2. You.com. (2024). You.com. https://you.com/search?q=write+a+blog+post+about+the+strength+of+acrylic+vs+polycarbonate+&fromSearchBar=true&tbm=youchat&cid=c0_69948c69-5856-45dc-a1f3-98c26f80cafd
  3. Acme Plastics. (n.d.). What is the Difference Between Polycarbonate and Acrylic? Retrieved January 31, 2024, from https://www.acmeplastics.com/acrylic-vs-polycarbonate#:~:text=Acrylic%20has%20roughly%2017%20times,applications%20like%20bullet%2Dresistant%20windows.

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