Bonding Polycarbonate: The Ultimate Guide
Well, polycarbonate is arguably on the sturdiest and most versatile materials you can ever come across currently.
Indeed, this is as a result of the fact that it contains quite a number of ingredients which give it the ideal strength and effectiveness.
But then, as a versatile material, it means that you’ll at some point need to bond it together or with another material depending on the application.
Polycarbonate isn’t just a type of component that you’ll easily adhere by using the ordinary solvents.
There are specific polycarbonate bonding methods which you need to use to attain effective results.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss many aspects regarding bonding polycarbonate.
So by the end of it, you’ll be able to know what it entails and other fundamental elements it revolves around.
What is Polycarbonate Bonding?
First of all, we have to agree that polycarbonate is more than 200 times stronger than ordinary glass.
Therefore, it’s quite evident that it is incredibly resilient to damage.
For that reason, when in need to adhere it, you have to be so particular never to use solvents which in turn can make the material to craze.
So far, polycarbonate bonding still stands as the best technology for attaching two pieces of this material.
Primarily, polycarbonate bonding refers to the use of effective means to join two different sheets of polycarbonate material together.
It is a technology which helps in attaining better results in as far as joining two or more parts of polycarbonate material is concerned.
What often happens is that polycarbonate has a surface which tends to be more receptive to bonding.
One significant element which you ought to know is that this material regardless of the bonding means you use still maintains its strength properties.
Also at the same time, you must figure out the type of materials you use to attach the sheets together.
For instance, as you’ll find out later on in this guide, common solvents damage or break the sheets at a microscopic level.
So it makes it appear with numerous cracks which are tiny on and beneath the surface of the sheet.
Other than that, let’s now quickly look at some of the reasons why you would mostly need to bond polycarbonate sheet in the first place.
Reasons for Bonding Polycarbonate Sheet
You see, polycarbonate is an exceptionally multipurpose and sturdy material just like I did mention earlier on.
Therefore, you’ll be able to use it in several applications which range from industrial to domestic uses.
Polycarbonate table – Image source: IDF Design
1. Making Different Shapes and Designs
In more than one occasion, you’ll need to join different parts of this material in a bid of attaining best result in whatever application.
So the first fundamental reason here is that bonding polycarbonate sheet allows you to obtain the right shape and size your object.
2. Improve Strength of Polycarbonate Items
The other reason for bonding this material is to enable you to enhance the strength so that it can suit the particular application.
You see, most of the industrial applications require a relatively strong surface which cannot break easily and can also withstand adverse conditions.
So at times, joining two or more of the polycarbonate sheets appear to be the only solution of enhancing the strength.
For instance, automotive glasses or architectural applications most definitely require an increased strength when using polycarbonate.
Therefore, the only way of attaining this when using polycarbonate is by bonding its several sheets until you reach the specific level.
3. Get Best Designs while Maintaining Strength and Durability
Also, polycarbonate bonding is the surest way of obtaining the best results and at the same time maintaining both the physical and strength properties.
In most instances, when you use other physical means to join two different polycarbonate materials, the damage is more likely to arise.
Remember you also need to maintain the quality of the material in terms of appearance in as much as you have to join them.
Notably, in automotive applications, the surface has to be clear regardless.
But then, it is polycarbonate bonding that guarantees you the clarity.
4. Reduce Polycarbonate Fabrication Cost
Then another reason which makes bonding polycarbonate sheet fundamental is the fact that it helps you to cut on cost.
Ordinarily, you’d need to undertake a process which makes it possible for you to save on any available coin.
Since we have several types of polycarbonate bonding techniques, you’ll come to notice that the procedure guarantees cost cutting significantly.
Polycarbonate bonding illustration – Image source: ScienceDirect
And talking about the techniques, let’s shift focus quickly and look at some of the common ones when it comes to the bonding of polycarbonate.
Techniques of Bonding Polycarbonate
Well, the truth of the matter is that you can use quite several means to bond polycarbonate sheets.
At the end of the day, all you need to attain is the right shape, size, attachment, and the necessary strength.
The truth, however, is that not all the possible techniques of bonding polycarbonate guarantee you all these elements.
In this section, I have a list of some of the common but most effective techniques that you can perhaps use while bonding this material.
Of course, the results of each technique may vary depending on the specific one you choose as well as the procedure you undertake.
So some of these methods include the following;
1) Solvent Bonding Polycarbonate
This is perhaps the most common means of attaching polycarbonate sheets that many people often use in various applications.
This is the process of using adhesive to bond the different polycarbonate sheets together.
The solvents are somewhat used for softening the polycarbonate material first by applying a particular level of coating.
Solvent polycarbonate – Image source: Springer Link
After that, you can then clamp the two different surfaces together to allow for the molecules of this material to mix together.
In the meantime, it allows the components to bond while the solvent dries and evaporates.
Incidentally, it is one of the easiest means of bonding polycarbonate sheets since the procedure requires little effort.
But then, you need to be particular when it comes to the level of pressure you use for clamping the two surfaces.
The reason is that excessive pressure may easily distort the bondage.
Ideally, the surface of polycarbonate sheets tends to be receptive to solvent bonding.
However, when using solvent bonding as your preferred method then you must be skeptical of the type of substance you use.
What I mean here is that not all solvents offer the best result when bonding this material.
In fact, the ordinary solvents may damage the surface of the sheet and make its surface appear like it has tiny microscopic cracks.
So in a nutshell, you must always ensure that you get the best solvent bonding material for the particular type of polycarbonate gluing.
2) Fusing Polycarbonate
This is the second method that is so synonymous with numerous industrial polycarbonate bonding.
One aspect of this technique is that it leads to invisible and seamless results that provide exceptionally resilient and strong sheets.
Fusing allows your sheets to attain strong bonds as well as excellent optical clarity all within a limited budget.
Fusing polycarbonate sheet – Image source: TUFLITE
Essentially, fusing polycarbonate sheet involves using Methylene Chloride by applying it one the specific joints on the sheet.
So what happens is that this chemical upon applying it takes a little time to cure before it becomes dry and joining the sheets.
Again, when using this method, you have to ensure that you allow Methylene Chloride to soak into the sheet.
While at it, the chemical will become relatively sticky and that’s when you can now place the edge of the sheet into the other surface.
All these require you to leave the sheets for about 48 hours or thereabouts.
At the same time, you need to work in a well-ventilated area given that Methylene Chloride is toxic and its emissions can be harmful.
3) Chemical Bonding Polycarbonate
Chemical bonding of polycarbonate sheets tends to be in line with a particular chemical process depending on various aspects.
First, what you need to know is that an effective polycarbonate bonding requires substrate activators which have unique capabilities.
And this capacity is vitally for getting rid of active hydrogen from substrates as well as initiating growth of polymer chains.
So in this case, removal of hydrogen results to formation of a free radical which still requires a particular electron to stabilize it.
Chemical bonding polycarbonate sheet – Image source: ECSDL
So before you decide to carry out chemical bonding on a polycarbonate, you must understand its molecular makeup substrates.
You also need to know the interaction of monomers as well as prepolymers as well as linking them to form a new polymer side chains.
4) Bonding Polycarbonate with Adhesive
This primarily refers to the use of glues as a way of joining two or more different parts of polycarbonate sheets.
Incidentally, it is one of the widely used procedures both at industrial and domestic levels.
Of course, this is necessitated by the fact that it is easy to obtain the ideal adhesives and also easy to apply and bond the sheets.
The only concern regarding bonding polycarbonates using this means is the actual type of adhesive that you’ll use.
You see, they are quite several in the market hence the need for making sure that you get the right one for the specific plastic sheets.
And you must also take note of the fact that the choice of adhesive is entirely dependent on the application.
Again, you also need to be careful when using these elements for safety purposes not to let it drop on your body surface.
In other words, when bonding polycarbonate with adhesives, make sure that you wear protective gears.
The only problem is that the use of adhesive tends to compromise the optical clarity of the material.
Still, though you need to ensure that the sealants or adhesives you use are somewhat clear to help in maintaining the optical clarity.
5) Welding Polycarbonate
This is the type of polycarbonate bonding process which involves using sonic pulses transmitted to the right bonding area.
There’s a resonant vibrating device known as horn which facilitates transmission of these sonic pulses.
So what happens is that the horn makes the two devices two plastic parts to vibrate against one another.
Well, it is this vibration that in turn generates heat which ends up fusing the elements together.
In that case, you won’t require to use any form of solvent or adhesive.
Basically, it happens that as the horn vibrates, it also stretches and later on shrinks in length via a motion known as the amplitude of the device.
Nonetheless, it is the size of this device that determines the shape and size of the polycarbonate sheets you’re bonding.
It thus gives you better results in as much as it could be relatively expensive and also quite tasking.
6) Laminating Polycarbonate
Well, you can as well choose to overlay the polycarbonate material as a way of bonding together or on another material.
Remember that in the lamination bonding of this material requires no or minimal chemical attachment of one substrate to another one.
In laminating this type of sheet, you can choose to use a material such as an interlayer transparent Polyurethane
But as you’ll also come to find out, this particular bonding method is a rare option nowadays.
The reason for this is that it requires quite a lot of tools and equipment as well as expertise.
Nonetheless, though, it can still be an effective method for bonding polycarbonate.
Bonding Polycarbonate Step-by-step Process
Listen, one of the most significant aspects when it comes to bonding any type of polycarbonate for a particular application is knowing the process.
Of course, the procedures vary from one application to another.
Moreover, the process also differs from the or rather means of bonding that you choose to use.
This is to say that the process for bonding a polycarbonate sheet using lamination is different from chemical or welding methods.
But in this section nevertheless, I want us to look at the necessary procedure that you need to know to give you an idea.
So that next time you choose to carry out this process especially for the DIY project, it becomes somewhat easy for you.
Step 1: Assess Materials to Bond
Indeed the first action that you need to undertake is evaluating all the materials that you have at your disposal.
What it means here is that you have to figure out the actual type of polycarbonate sheets that you want to material.
Types of polycarbonate sheet
You see, there are instances when you would only wish to bond polycarbonate with polycarbonate.
But then there are also other instances when your wish would be only to bond polycarbonate sheet with other different materials like wood among others.
For that reason, you have to find out the properties of such materials and the only way of doing this is by assessing them accordingly.
In fact, it is this assessment that would lead you to determine a better choice for the bonding technique to undertake.
Step 2: Choose the Appropriate Polycarbonate Bonding Technique
Now that you have possibly determined the particular material you want to bond with the polycarbonate, you’ll select the ideal technique.
As we did discuss earlier on, the truth of the matter is that the specific method depends on the application.
It also depends on your expertise as well as the availability of all the necessary tools and materials for the task.
In other words, when choosing the ideal bonding technique, ensure that you figure-out the necessity of that particular method.
Of course, we have a number of polycarbonate bonding techniques and determining the most appropriate one should never be a challenge.
It is the technique you choose the will also determine whether or not the results for the application will be worth it.
Step 3: Prepare the Surfaces
Well, this is something which you ought to do regardless of the technique you are using.
You see, you’ll have to prepare the actual surface of the materials that you need to bond.
So the best way of doing this is by rinsing the sheets or other material for that matter perhaps with lukewarm water.
Preparing polycarbonate surface for bonding
Thereafter, you may consider washing the sheets in warm soapy water but this time using a gentle sponge or cotton cloth.
The dry the surface using a cloth.
This is vital since it prevents water on the surface from mixing with the particular material you’re applying.
And when wiping the surface, ensure that you do it in the direction of the grain.
It helps to prevent interference with the texture of the surface.
By the way, it is at this point that you’re going to decide on what type of material you’ll use for bonding the two different surfaces.
Step 4: Start Polycarbonate Bonding Process
As at now, every aspect of bonding the polycarbonate material should be intact.
What now happens here is merely undertaking the bonding process completely depending on the technique you’re using.
So in this case, all you need is to start merging the different surface materials together while applying small trail of the substrate you’re using.
For instance, if you’re using a fusing technique, upon joining the edges of the surface material, you can then start applying a trail of methylene chloride.
At the same time, regardless of the technique, you’re using, always ensure that the surrounding is well-ventilated.
This, of course, is a safety measure since, in most instances, polycarbonate can emit fumes which can end up being toxic.
Well, after fusing the edges of polycarbonate material, then you can confirm whether the two surfaces are in place accordingly.
Incidentally, this bonding process can as short as possible as long as you understand the basics involved.
Step 5: Curing
Primarily, this refers to the stage where you need to let the bond dry and stay intact.
What happens is that after applying the particular sticking element on edge, you’ll need to hold the sheets carefully in place.
At this step, it is also necessary to ensure that you apply a few amounts of pressure on the sheets as a way of forming a stronger bond.
Curing should be somewhere between 48 and 72 hours, but at the same time, it is recommendable to put a little strain on either of the pieces.
The essence here is to make sure that these two edges remain in constant contact.
Also, it would be important to note that curing is not ideal for all the techniques.
In other words, there are specific techniques where you’ll have to use this particular step.
Step 6: Asses Quality of the Bond
Now when everything is set, check on the nature of the bond as you assess its quality.
This will make it possible for you to determine whether the bond is strong enough to support the particular application.
Also assessing the quality is a sure way of figuring out whether or not you’ve done the right thing worth repeating should you have more to come.
Once you evaluate and determine its right, you can then go ahead and carry out the particular project you intended to.
Well, the process is as simple as such.
It is not rocket science and hence it can never scare you away.
In fact, this is a procedure that does not necessarily require you to be an expert in this field to carry it out successfully.
As long as you have all the appropriate tools and materials, you’re good to go.
Bonding Polycarbonate to Other Materials
Like I did mention earlier on, you can bond polycarbonate sheet together with a number of different materials.
It all depends on the application you’re aiming at.
Nonetheless, the procedures or techniques for bonding the materials will to some extent vary considerably.
Joining polycarbonate with other material
The good thing, however, is that in this section, we want to highlight a few but common materials that you can bond together with polycarbonate.
So let’s get started straight away;
a) Bonding Polycarbonate to Polycarbonate
It is a common occasion to always bond a polycarbonate sheet together with the other because of the numerous similar properties they share.
Additionally, polycarbonate to polycarbonate also helps to create or maintain uniformity which is necessary especially in a project.
So bonding polycarbonate on another one is also easy, and you can as well use numerous techniques to attain the same.
In other words, you can use lamination, welding chemical, fusing, and solvent bonding techniques to bond polycarbonate to polycarbonate.
b) Bonding Polycarbonate to Acrylic
The truth is that you can use feasibly bond polycarbonate to acrylic for many different applications.
However, you need to be concerned with the method you’re using.
You see, many reports indicate that there is polycarbonate to acrylic bonds that tend to weaken after some time when using particular adhesives.
In this case, what I’m trying to insinuate is that you need to be careful when using a particular type of adhesive when bonding polycarbonate to acrylic.
Again, the procedures must also be precise depending on the technique you’re using to bond these two different materials.
c) Bonding Polycarbonate to Metal
Nowadays, in many applications, it is also common to find polycarbonate bonding to metal.
But you also need to remember that metals come in different ranges.
Such that you have to be particular with the bonding technique you’re using to attach the specific type of metal to the polycarbonate.
The most prevalent method for bonding polycarbonate to metal is often by using adhesive.
But at the same time, you also need to be careful when it comes to using the particular type of adhesive you’re using.
In most instances though, polyurethane adhesive is applied to the surface of the polycarbonate.
Thereafter, you can place it in contact with the metal retainer.
d) Gluing Polycarbonate to Wood
Attaching polycarbonate to wood is apparently quite easy.
Once you have an already prepared all the ideal surfaces, all you got to do is apply some adhesive then fix the edges.
Well, one of the significant challenges that if taken care of can enable you to achieve great results is the time taken for curing.
With polycarbonate to wood bonding, you need to give it at least 24 hours depending on the extent of the bonding.
To achieve this on the best way possible, you need to clamp the two sheets appropriately.
e) Gluing Polycarbonate to PVC
The process and techniques are more or less the same with bonding polycarbonate to wood.
All you need to have is the most suitable type of adhesive and prepare the surface edges accordingly.
Then you also need to take care of the curing duration by ensuring that you clamp the sheets together to guarantee strong bonding.
f) Bonding Polycarbonate to Glass
When it comes to bonding polycarbonate, one element that you need to consider when determining the right technique is the clarity.
Of course, not all glasses are clear, but when you’re bonding polycarbonate to glass, you need to look into the right method.
Ideally, fusing and lamination would be the best techniques to use when attaching polycarbonate sheet to a glass material.
These two methods provide clear results which are also essential when it comes to the overall appearance of the project.
Use of adhesive can also be a considerable option, but you must ensure that you use it appropriately not to leave any unimpressive marks on the edges.
Applications of Polycarbonate Bonding Technology
So ultimately, you need to understand that the use of polycarbonate bonding has been common in the recent past.
And this increase is both at domestic and industrial levels.
What happens is that this technology is enhancing artistry in different types of projects thus making it easy to attain appealing results.
In this case, I want to highlight a few applications where you can find the use of polycarbonate bonding technology.
· Automotive Industry
Nowadays, many automotive units use a combination of polycarbonate sheets and other materials in different sections.
Figure 14 Polycarbonate windscreen
And so this necessitates for bonding of such materials which only becomes easy when you use this particular technology.
The modern building incorporates different styles and components which eventually provides the appealing finishing.
So you’ll find that in many instances, most roofing materials use a combination of polycarbonate integrated with other materials.
And attaining this particular finish only becomes possible and feasible upon using the polycarbonate bonding technology.
· Display assembly
Also, the types of displays and other forms of advertising boards incorporate different elements of polycarbonates and other materials.
Acrylic and Polycarbonate storage boxes
So you’ll find that to assemble the display boards, you’ll first need to bond the different materials together to provide appealing element.
And it becomes suitable upon finishing because then you’ll get both an appealing and durable display board.
Household appliance assembly
You may not believe this, but the truth is most household appliances also use polycarbonate bonding technology during manufacturing.
For instance, an appliance such as refrigerator integrates both the polycarbonate and a wide range of elements including metals.
Polycarbonate refrigerator – Image source: SP Scienceware
Therefore, the best way of bonding all these different materials to attain the ideal result is through polycarbonate bonding technology.
And it is not only refrigerators but also several types of appliances including electric cookers among others.
FAQ on Bonding Polycarbonate
Now as we head to the conclusion part of this guide, it would be necessary also to list a few frequently asked questions regarding bonding polycarbonate.
This is vital because it makes it possible for you to get an idea of possibly where to start from or where to look for essential answers.
1. What is the best technique for polycarbonate bonding?
The best technique is dependent on the type of material you’re bonding the polycarbonate sheet with.
Therefore, there is no clear-cut technique for this particular technology.
2. Is it possible to bond corrugated polycarbonate sheets?
All you need is to thoroughly clear the edges where you want to bond using recommended cleaning agents then follow the procedures.
3. Can I screw the polycarbonate sheets rather than using adhesives?
It is possible, but you also need to remember that it depends on the type of application you’re undertaking.
The chances are high that screws may loosen if at all the application will most often apply pressure.
4. Can I detach polycarbonate sheet from the material upon bonding?
Well, this also depends on the technique that you use.
But in most cases it possible only that the quality of either material will be low nonetheless.
5. How long does it take to complete a polycarbonate bonding?
Also depending on the technique you use, this process can last between 24-72 hours before you finally start using the bonded material.
So as you can see, polycarbonate bonding is quite an interesting topic.
Indeed in this guide, I have merely provided basic information to guide you in understanding the various concepts of what it revolves around.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to know what it is, why it is necessary, as well as the various techniques for bonding polycarbonate.
Also, still in this guide, you now have a clue of the steps to take when bonding polycarbonate, and how to bond polycarbonate with other materials.
And finally, I have touched on a few but vital applications of polycarbonate bonding technology and a few FAQs.
Therefore, you may feel free to share this guide within your interwebs for other people who could be in need of such information to also access.