Polycarbonate is a transparent thermoplastic that exhibits extraordinary impact resistance and excellent electrical properties. Polycarbonate usually comes in two forms, machine grade clear and optically clear. Machine grade polycarbonate has a light transmittance of approximately 88%. Polycarbonate has a low moisture absorption rate and good chemical resistance making it an extremely versatile engineering material and allows for its use in a multitude of industrial applications.
Although polycarbonate has high impact-resistance, it also has a low scratch-resistance. The characteristics of polycarbonate are quite like those of acrylic, but polycarbonate is stronger and usable over a greater temperature range. Unlike most thermoplastics, polycarbonate can undergo large plastic deformations without cracking or breaking. As a result, it can be processed and formed at room temperature using sheet metal techniques, such as bending on a press brake. Even for sharp angle bends with a tight radius, heating may not be necessary. This makes it valuable in prototyping applications where transparent or electrically non-conductive parts are needed.