What is Polycarbonate?

Just when you thought you had learned about every type of plastic that exists…we find another one for you- and this time it’s polycarbonate. We hate to break it to you, but although we have learned about many of the types of plastics, the list is still quite a bit longer.

So let’s embrace the powerful wonders of polycarbonate.

But we really mean it- powerful wonders. Polycarbonate, sometimes known as Lexan, Makrolon, and Hammerglass, is so strong that it’s used most often in engineering. Check out some of the other characteristics that make polycarbonate so special:

What are the Advantages of Using Polycarbonate?

  • Transparent
  • Versatile
  • Easy to mold
  • Highly durable
  • Lightweight
  • High impact-resistance
  • Low scratch-resistance
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Suitable for long-term exposure to UV rays
  • Heat-resistant and flame-retardant
  • Ability to undergo large plastic deformations

The History of Polycarbonate

A German scientist named Alfred Einhorn first discovered polycarbonate in 1898 while he was working at the University of Munich. It was studied for over 30 years until all of the research was suddenly abandoned before polycarbonate was commercialized.

In 1953 Hermann Schnell resumed research and patented the name “Makrolon” in 1955.

Also in 1953, Daniel Fox from New York independently synthesized polycarbonate and filed for a U.S patent in 1955, causing a big dispute.

The patent quarrel was resolved in Schnell’s favor, and he changed the name to Lexan in 1960.

By 1970, the original brown color was enhanced to entirely clear.

What is Polycarbonate Used For?

  • Mostly engineering
  • The construction industry is the second largest consumer (dome lights, sound walls, flat or curved glazing)
  • Data Storage (compact discs, DVDs, Blu-rays)
  • Advertising (signs, displays, posters)
  • Automotive/Aircrafts
  • Security Components  (bullet-proof products)
  • Eye Protection (lenses, visors, goggles)
  • Windscreens (on motorcycles, golf carts, planes, helicopters)
  • Medical Applications
  • Phones
  • Luggage
  • Instrument Panels

Can Polycarbonate be Used in Food Storage?

In the past, polycarbonate has been used for food storage containers. Today, using polycarbonate with food is very controversial. Countless studies have shown that bisphenol A (BPA) is found in polycarbonate. Bisphenol A is a chemical compound that may have been responsible for enlarged organs in a study conducted with mice.

Polycarbonate has a countless number of uses, so not being able to use it in food storage is not the end of the world.

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