Applications of Polycarbonate
Applications of Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate is mainly used for electronic applications that capitalize on its collective safety features. Being a good electrical insulator and having heat resistant and flame retardant properties, it is used in various products associated with electrical and telecommunications hardware. It also serves as dielectric in high stability capacitors.
The second largest consumer of polycarbonates is the construction industry, e.g. for domelights, flat or curved glazing, and sound walls.
A major application of polycarbonate is the production of Compact Discs, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs. These discs are produced by injection molding polycarbonate into a mold cavity that has on one side a metal stamper containing a negative image of the disc data, while the other mold side is a mirrored surface. Typical products of sheet/film production include applications in advertisement (signs, displays, poster protection).
Automotive, aircraft, and security components
In the automotive industry, injection-mouldedpolycarbonate can produce very smooth surfaces that make it well-suited for direct (without the need for a basecoat) metalised parts such as decorative bezels and optical reflectors. Its uniform mould shrinkage results in parts with greater accuracy than those made of polypropylene. However, due to its susceptibility to environmental stress cracking, its use is limited to low-stress applications. It can be laminated to make bullet-proof "glass", although "bullet-resistant" is more accurate for the thinner windows, such as are used in bullet-resistant windows in automobiles. The thicker barriers of transparent plastic used in teller's windows and barriers in banks are also polycarbonate.
So-called "theft-proof" large plastic packaging for smaller items, which cannot be opened by hand, is uniformly made from polycarbonate.
The cockpit canopy of the F-22 Raptor jet fighter is made from a piece of high optical quality polycarbonate, and is the largest piece of its type formed in the world.
Polycarbonate, being a versatile material with attractive processing and physical properties, has attracted myriad smaller applications. The use of injection molded drinking bottles and glasses and food containers has stirred serious controversy .
Many kinds of lenses are manufactured from polycarbonate, including durable, lightweight luggage, automotive headlamp lenses, lighting lenses, sunglass/eyeglass, lenses, and safety glasses. Other miscellaneous items: MP3/digital audio player cases, ocarinas, computer cases, riot shields, visors, instrument panels, and blender jars. Many toys and hobby items are made from polycarbonate parts, e.g. fins, gyro mounts, and flybar locks for use with radio-controlled helicopters.
For use in applications exposed to weathering or UV-radiation, a special surface treatment is needed. This either can be a coating (e.g. for improved abrasion resistance), or a coextrusion for enhanced weathering resistance.
Polycarbonate is also used as a printing substrate for nameplate and other forms of industrial grade under printed products. The polycarbonate provides a barrier to wear, the elements, and fading.
Some polycarbonate grades are used in medical applications and comply with both ISO 10993-1 and USP Class VI standards (occasionally referred to as PC-ISO). Class VI is the most stringent of the six USP ratings. These grades can be sterilized using steam at 120 °C, gamma radiation, or by the ethylene oxide (EtO) method. However, scientific research indicates possible problems with biocompatibility. Dow Chemical strictly limits all its plastics with regard to medical applications.