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Size of Polycarbonate Sheet Selection : How to Choose correctly

Most customers that decide to use polycarbonate sheets may already have knowledge of its application; and after our understanding the type of polycarbonate profile and polycarbonate material properties offered, the next big question we ask or are asked is, the size of polycarbonate sheets required.

Polycarbonate sheets have become a product well known for its great properties, such as strength, durability, transparency and visually pleasing aesthetics; versatility is also among them, meaning polycarbonate sheets can be formed into difference shapes and sizes through methods such as hot or cold bending, heat or brake forming, and more.  Due to its high coefficient of linear thermal expansion, choosing the correct size for its intended use becomes quite important.

Thickness:
Choosing the thickness is the first and most important when it comes to sizing. Polycarbonate sheets comes in a variety of thicknesses and the range differs from profile to profile.  VULCAN Solid Flat sheet thickness range from 1.6mm all the way up to 15mm, and VULCAN Corrugated profiles range from 0.6mm to 2.0mm.  Our Ultra-Thin solid flat sheets however, can be made from 0.4mm all the way up to 1.2mm thick.

For commercial roofing and skylight applications, especially areas with lots of rain, 6mm solid flat sheet thickness or above can reduce noise and prevent the area underneath from becoming a resonant chamber.  For warehouse skylights or wall cladding and overlapped with metal roofing panels, corrugated polycarbonate sheets are usually the profile of choice, and since noise is usually not a major concern, thicknesses ranging from 0.8mm to 1.5mm is of choice and the best balance between cost and performance.

Length:
Length is what we consider the second most important factor when choosing the correct polycarbonate sheet size.   Polycarbonate, in sheet form, are in general manufactured via (co) extrusion, where raw polycarbonate resin is melted and formed into a continuous profile, continuous literally means that sheets can be continuously extruded to infinity, given there is enough space for storage.

A characteristic property which is quite universal in all thermoplastics, especially polycarbonate, is its relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion. A 3-meter-long sheet of polycarbonate for example will expand by approximately 2.1mm for each 10°C temperature increase. A 5-meter-long sheet restrained at one end by being butted up against a brick wall can have its free end move by over 10mm in the course of a day with a 30°C temperature rise.

This characteristic has a huge impact on deciding sheet length, as sufficient room has to be left to allow for any contraction and expansion of the polycarbonate sheet.

Weight:
The size of polycarbonate sheets determines the weight of not only the sheets itself, but also the overall weight of the structure.  While building regulations, weather conditions, and material costs play a huge role overall, the most important factor is labor safety involved in lugging around heavy loads.  Large pieces of polycarbonate sheets, while significantly lighter and safer compared to same sized glass, still involves risk and must be taken into consideration.

For more information on how to determine the size of polycarbonate sheets for your projects, please contact [email protected].

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