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WeeTect has full capacities to manufacture polycarbonate products with different functions by consolidating different processes

Polycarbonate Fabrication

As WeeTect holds all capacities of polycarbonate fabrication, it can make different level products with different technologies and surface treatments.

Car Headlight Lens
Windshield
Laminated Ballistic Panel
IP Camera Lens Cover
Goggle Lens
Instrument Panel
Helment Visor
Machine Panel

WeeTect Has Full Capacities to Custom Your Polycarbonate Products

CAD/CAM, product & tooling design

WeeTect has experienced engineers on supporting design of your product & tooling. It can eliminate issues at very beginning. Check more.

Polycarbonate Silk Screen

WeeTect can do silk screen on your different surface treated polycarbonate components with different shapes.

Polycarbonate injection molding

WeeTect holds military level injection molding technology for optical polycarbonate components with ballistic performance.

Assembly, Integration

WeeTect can support you to assemble all components with different functions and integrate into a finish product.

Polycarbonate coating

WeeTect can do abrasion resistant, anti-fog, anti-reflective, hydrophobic, iridium, and other coatings on your polycarbonate components.

Polycarbonate Thermoforming

WeeTect holds technologies of polycarbonate thermoforming and vacuum forming for your different products.

Polycarbonate CNC Milling

This is a high level milling technology for polycarbonate products, which can eliminate burs and keep very tight tolerance.

Polycarbonate Laminating

WeeTect can do optical level laminating for ballistic glass made by polycarbonate sheet, TPU sheet and acrylic sheet.

Polycarbonate bending

WeeTect has the technologies for both cold bending and thermo-bending for your polycarbonate products.

Other Technologies

WeeTect also has all other technologies for polycarbonate fabrication from military to industrial level.

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Polycarbonate Machining & Fabrication The Ultimate Guide to Custom Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate machining In today’s guide, I will show you everything you need to know about polycarbonate machining and fabrication. First, I am going to discuss the structure, physical and chemical properties of polycarbonate sheets. Then, I will guide you through various processes in machining and fabricating polycarbonate sheets. And, later, you’ll also see the final products you can make by fabricating polycarbonate such as visors, goggles, shields, etc.

Chapter 1: History & Introduction to Polycarbonate (PC) Sheet

what is polycarbonate Who discovered polycarbonate? Let’s get to that first before anything else:

  • 1898

Alfred Einhorn, who was a German scientist at the University of Munich discovers polycarbonate. However, he neither applied for a patent nor commercialized polycarbonate.

  • 1953 to date

Between this time, two major independent studies took place. They include:           i. Research by Bayer in Germany In 1953, Hermann Schnell led a team of researchers to produce the first linear polycarbonate. As a result, they applied for a patent. And, by 1955, they registered the name “Merlon”. In 1958, Bayer started commercial production of polycarbonate under the name Merlon. However, they later changed this name to “Makrolon”, in the 1980s.          ii. Research by General Electric in the U.S. Still in 1953, Daniel Fox lead a team of researchers at General Electric to produce a branched polycarbonate. They too filed for a patent in 1955. In 1960, General electric started producing polycarbonate under the name Lexan. However, SABIC took over the production of Lexan in 2007. Remember, both Bayer and General Electric all filed for U.S. patents. Since then, there has been a number of innovations and improvements on polycarbonate sheets. But that is a story for another day. Let’s come back to the scope of our guide:

1.1. What is Polycarbonate Sheet?

Most people define polycarbonate sheet as a “type of plastic”. Well, I don’t deny that – but I want to give you a precise definition of polycarbonate sheets. Simply put: Polycarbonates are thermoplastic polymers containing carbonate group and Bisphenol A. That sounds even more confusing right? I will break it down for you shortly. But first, I want you to see the chemical structure of polycarbonate: Structure of Polycarbonate

Structure of polycarbonate – Photo Credits: WIKIMEDIA

Now, let me explain certain terms in my definition:

This is a plastic that softens on heating, making it easy to mold to any shape. Implying, you can heat polycarbonate sheet and manipulate it to any design of choice. Well, that is basically part of polycarbonate fabrication – I will discuss more of that later in this guide.

It is a compound derived from carbonic acid with two alkoxy groups. That sounds more of organic chemistry – Yes! But don’t go that route, I’ll make it simple. Structure of Carbonate Group

Structure of carbonate group

Let me cut the story short: Carbonate groups are important elements in the chemical structure of polycarbonate sheets.

It plays an integral role in the synthesis of polycarbonate. Basically, this is a colorless substance that is nearly insoluble in water, but soluble in organic solvents. In its structure, it has two aromatic rings. It is these aromatic rings that make polycarbonate stiff. Furthermore, Bisphenol A is responsible for the amorphous structure (non-crystalline structure) of polycarbonate sheets. Of course, this makes it transparent. Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A

Too much of inorganic chemistry right? Well, maybe I should leave it at that. However, let me have a quick summary of it all as: Molecular structure of polycarbonate

Molecular structure of polycarbonate

And, by the way, in case you want to learn more on polycarbonate synthesis, chemical compounds, etc. I have some links for you at the end of this chapter. Now, let’s come back to what you were waiting for:

1.2. Physical and Chemical Properties of Polycarbonate Sheets

I know many people don’t wish to read about the process of manufacturing or synthesis of polycarbonates. We all want to know what a polycarbonate sheet can offer. Of interest, is how it works as a goggle, face shield or helmet visor and so on. Solid polycarbonate sheet

 Solid polycarbonate sheet

So, I will not take must time here. Let’s list the various properties of polycarbonate sheets. Below is a table that shows the various properties of polycarbonate sheets: Properties of polycarbonate sheet

Properties of polycarbonate sheet – Photo Credits: USP

Here is the deal: Before you buy a polycarbonate sheet or any of its products, you must request for a data sheet. As you can see from the example above, it must have:

  • Property of polycarbonate sheet
  • Test method or process
  • Results of the test process

Since you now know the properties of polycarbonate sheets, let’s go straight to the:

1.3.  Advantages and Disadvantages of Polycarbonate Sheets

Let me tell you the truth: There are many situations where you will machine or fabricate polycarbonate sheet for a specific application. However, during some instances, you must look for an alternative material. Simply because polycarbonate sheet may not be the best material. Remember, there is no material that is 100% perfect. Therefore, polycarbonate sheet is no exception. Look at these:

  • Advantages of Polycarbonate Sheets

The following are some of the main advantages of polycarbonate sheets:            i. It has a high impact resistance, hence, virtually unbreakable           ii. Easy to machine, fabricate or manipulate to any shape forming desired end products          iii. Good dimensional stability          iv. Better optical properties with light transmission going over 97%           v. Easy to customize by adding other coating technologies          vi. Resistant to most chemicals and a wide temperature range         vii. Suitable for a range of applications such as in making goggles, face shields, helmet visors, etc.        viii. Resistant to most weather conditions           ix. Excellent resistance to shock            x. Absorbs very small quantity of water (>0.6%).           xi. Better electrical insulation properties          xii. Resistant to fire or flame (rated UL94) In short, this is a material you can count on in most applications today.

  • Disadvantages of Polycarbonate Sheets

Whenever you think of machining of fabricating polycarbonate sheet, it’s important to consider the following:             i. Producing polycarbonate sheets are costly. This is because it requires high temperature and better systems to prevent possible pollution.            ii. Polycarbonate is susceptible to degradation more so those without anti-ultraviolet treatment.           iii. For optimal performance, you must add other treatments. For example, it is neither resistant to scratches nor fog – you must add anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings.            iv. Polycarbonate products are expensive thou they come with long-term cost benefits With these, I am sure you are now familiar with polycarbonate sheet. It is the material I am going to show you how to machine or fabricate to get products such as these: End product after fabricating polycarbonate sheet

 End product after fabricating polycarbonate sheet

Just, in case you want to learn more about polycarbonate material, here are some resources for you:

Chapter 2: Machining and Fabricating Polycarbonate Sheets Processes

Fabricating Polycarbonate Sheets Processes Generally, machining and fabricating polycarbonate sheets involve either:

  • Removing certain sections by cutting, drilling and milling or,
  • Manipulating its structure/shape by either molding or thermoforming

Through these processes, you will make useful products from polycarbonate sheets. These products may range from helmet visors, windshields, goggles, mirrors, etc. If you want to master the art of machining and fabricating polycarbonate sheets, then I have designed this section for you. I will show you how to bend, cut, thermoform and bond polycarbonate sheets. Well, let’s do this:

2.1. Bending Polycarbonate Sheets

Bending is one of the simplest ways of fabricating polycarbonate sheets. But guess what? You can make amazing products just by adding simple curves on polycarbonate sheets. Look at these: Ballistic Face Shield

 Ballistic Face Shield

As you will see later in this section, you can bend polycarbonate sheets using different techniques and processes. But, first, what is polycarbonate sheet bending? This is the process applying a reasonable amount of force on a straight polycarbonate sheet to form a:

  • Curve
  • Channel shape
  • V-shape
  • U-shape, or any angle.

It will depend on the type of polycarbonate product you intend to make. But first, you need a good polycarbonate bending machine. Just in case you need a polycarbonate bending machine, you need to consider the following:            i. Go for a computer or PLC controlled machine. This way, you will easily control the accuracy and consistency of the polycarbonate bending process.           ii. Consider a machine that allows for a range of bending operations. Now, there are many ways of bending polycarbonate sheet. For this section, I will focus on the most popular ones. And of course, if you want to learn how to do it, I have some videos here for you. Again, it is a known fact that: Whenever you’re bending polycarbonate sheet, you’ll subject the material to either compressive or stretching force. Therefore, you need to control these forces to avoid instances of any fracture or cracks on polycarbonate sheet. Having said that, now let’s get to the actual process of bending polycarbonate sheets:

2.1.1. Cold Bending Polycarbonate Sheet

I want you to get one fact straight here: The process of bending polycarbonate sheet here does not require heat. Depending on the size of and magnitude of force, you can make numerous curved shapes. Broadly, you can go for either:

  • Cold curving polycarbonate sheets or,
  • Cold line bending polycarbonate sheets

So, what’s the difference between the two processes of bending polycarbonate sheets?        a) Cold Curving Polycarbonate Sheet It is a simple process which involves the following:

  • Clamping the polycarbonate sheet
  • Applying force that is just about to bend the polycarbonate sheet. Do this slowly and consistently.
  • Then remove the force – Voila! You have bent the polycarbonate

Below is a video illustrating the process (this video is not a property of WeeTect, it’s an illustration by Les Wilhelm.) https://youtu.be/sNWqbAz6Lww To achieve this process successfully, you must observe the following:

  • Polycarbonate bent radius depends on the thickness of polycarbonate sheet, i.e. be a minimum of 100 times the polycarbonate sheet thickness.
  • The force you’re applying must not exceed what the manufacturer recommends.

Another process here is the cold line bending polycarbonate sheets. Cold line bending is nearly the same as cold curving. But, what makes it unique? You can fabricate polycarbonate sheets up to 25mm thick and 2030mm long. What’s more? With line bending you:

  • Don’t need complex fabrication tolling methods
  • Are guaranteed of low set up costs and efficient bending process

With this cold line bending, you can easily achieve double or single parallel bends. This makes it easier to fabricate equipment housing. The reality is: Cold line bending polycarbonate sheet is basically a prelude to fabrication process. Alternatively, in case you don’t want to cold bend polycarbonate sheet, apply heat. This takes us to another important fabrication process:

2.1.2. Hot Bending Polycarbonate Sheet

Well, this is the opposite of the cold bending polycarbonate sheet. So in this process, you will apply a reasonable amount of heat to bend the polycarbonate sheet. It is just a small amount of heat, enough to bend the polycarbonate sheet. Don’t confuse this with what you will see later in thermoforming polycarbonate sheet. You’re going to learn more about that in part 2.5 of this chapter – keep reading. I know many people use different terms out there. Take for instance, you may come across these:            a) Using a heat gun to bend polycarbonate sheet Here, you will clamp the polycarbonate sheet, then apply heat using a heat gun. Of course, you will apply this heat along a section where you wish to bend the polycarbonate sheet. It is a simple process. You can see it in the video below: https://youtu.be/6ik-wqRNFSE Again, this video is not WeeTect’s property. It was uploaded by Ypedal. Alternatively, you may also come across this:          b) Hot line bending polycarbonate sheet Do you want to bend thick polycarbonate sheets? Or, do you need polycarbonate sheet with acute angles? If yes, Then I can recommend hot line bending of polycarbonate sheet. In hot line bending of polycarbonate sheet, you will:

  • Use an electric heater
  • Apply the heat along the line of bend
  • Heat one or both sides depending on the thickness of polycarbonate sheet – a temperature of 155°C to 165°C is just enough
  • Apply enough force to bend the polycarbonate sheet

As you can see, the process is also simple and easy – all you need is a high quality polycarbonate bending machine. Heat bending polycarbonate sheet

 Heat bending polycarbonate sheet; Photo Credits – HERZHUNGARIA

Even as you read this, I want you to look at the bigger picture: You can bend both solid polycarbonate sheets and films. Generally, you can bend polycarbonate film to conform to the outer surface of a particular shape. Also, even as you bend polycarbonate sheets, it is important to pay attention to the following:               i. Amount of stress or bending force you will apply on the thickness of polycarbonate sheet. Remember bending polycarbonate sheet subjects the outer surface to stretching force and inner surface compression force.             ii. Too much of these forces or stress will make polycarbonate susceptible to chemicals. So, you have to be careful here. For today, I will leave this subject here. In case you have any questions on polycarbonate bending, feel free to contact us.

2.2. Cutting Polycarbonate Sheet

Whether you’re dealing with polycarbonate anti-glare film or anti-fog anti-scratch PC sheet, you’ll cut it to specific dimensions. Here is a good example of what I am talking about – applications of anti-glare/anti-reflective film and sheet video. https://youtu.be/zKR_UWtPqQU As you can see, cutting polycarbonate sheet is an important machining process. And, how can you achieve this effectively – let’s find out: In most cases, we classify cutting polycarbonate depending on the process. For example, we have:

2.2.1. Sawing Polycarbonate Sheet

As the name suggests, here you will use a saw to cut polycarbonate sheet or film to appropriate sizes. It is a simple and effective way of machining polycarbonate sheet. As long as you choose the right sawing machine, you can cut polycarbonate sheet to any shape. To achieve this, you need the following main types of tools:

  • Sawing machine, you can choose either circular or band saws
  • Safety gear; these include goggles, gloves, etc.
  • Marking and measuring tools

Although sawing is one of the cheapest and effective ways of cutting polycarbonate sheet or films, you may experience the following problems:

  • Melted or Gummed Edges of Polycarbonate Sheets

I know how annoying can be. It is for this reason that I want to show you how to solve this problem. Let’s get to that – how do you solve it?

  • In case you had stacked several polycarbonate sheets or films together, you can reduce the number
  • Check the temperature of the cutting blade – cool if hot
  • Adjust cutting speed and feeding rate
  • Using a lubricant could help, but only one which the manufacturer recommends
  • Ensure the blade is sharp
  • Check the alignment of the sheets

Types of saws

 Types of saws – Photo Credits: Make Zine

Also, you may experience:

  • Chipping of Polycarbonate Sheet or Film

To solve this problem, you can consider the following:

  • Reduce feed rate or blade tooth size
  • Ensure the blade is sharp enough
  • Check if the blade is firmly fixed
  • Ensure the polycarbonate sheet or film is clamped properly

Well, the process of sawing polycarbonate sheet is simple. This is what you should do:            i. Wear safety gear and choose an appropriate cutting tool           ii. Clean the work bench and clamp the polycarbonate sheet.           iii. Mark out the area you want to cut from the main sheet          iv. Begin cutting the polycarbonate sheets Although this process is cost effective, at times, it is not suitable for some industrial setups. For this reason, you can opt for other polycarbonate cutting processes. For instance, in case you want to cut complex shapes or very small sections, then sawing may not be the best alternative. What should you do? You can try:

2.2.2 Laser Cutting Polycarbonate Sheet

Do you want to try a new polycarbonate cutting technology? Well, laser cutting is an efficient and reliable technology. Yes, in this technology, you will replace the saw cutting with laser light. But, why should you opt for polycarbonate laser cutting process? The truth is, laser cutting guarantees the following main advantages:

  • Ability to produce precise and flexible cuts
  • No flaking of polycarbonate sheet
  • No need for cleaning tools
  • Virtually no tool wear – tooling is not in direct contact with the polycarbonate

You can watch this video to get a clear picture of what am talking about: https://youtu.be/t3_oA79Nd2k Please note – this video was uploaded by GeppettoCreations. In most cases, you will use CO2 laser cutting machine for polycarbonate sheets. Again, even as you go for CO2 laser cutting polycarbonate you should note the following.           i. Laser cut polycarbonate sheet may look burnt. Of course, this is due to the high temperature.         ii. Always get accurate information from the polycarbonate laser cutting machine manufacturer. You will learn how to control the cutting process. Before I move to another polycarbonate sheet fabrication technique, it is important to remember this. Whenever you’re cutting polycarbonate sheet, there will be friction that can cause heat buildup. Therefore, you should cool it using either air or water. Remember, polycarbonate sheet will begin to soften at a temperature above 130°C. But again, these are not the only processes, you can also mill polycarbonate sheets and films. Generally, it is also another way of cutting polycarbonate sheet. Here is everything you should know:

2.4. Milling Polycarbonate Sheet

If you want to remove sections or parts from polycarbonate sheets and films, then you can try milling. Unlike cutting polycarbonate sheets, in milling polycarbonate sheet you will use a rotary cutter to remove particles from a workpiece. Maybe you should watch this video to understand what I am talking about: https://youtu.be/Yl2emRk39hw Note: This video is not property of WeeTect, it was uploaded by DPTNT. As I mentioned in chapter 1, polycarbonate is an example of plastic material. Therefore, to make holes you may use a CNC routing machine (I’ll discuss that shortly). At times, it is what you may call CNC machine cutting polycarbonate sheet or polycarbonate CNC milling. Whenever you’re planning to choose a milling machine for polycarbonate sheet, you must consider the following:

  • Tolerances
  • Readability
  • Positional accuracy

Also, I want to mention that polycarbonates do not lose heat faster. Therefore, there is a high possibility of localized overheating – this can affect the polycarbonate sheet. CNC polycarbonate cutting is more accurate and produce smooth finishes. Whether you want regular or irregular surfaces, routing polycarbonate material is the ideal process. Some of the main parameters that will determine the quality of the final product include:

  • Feeding procedure
  • Routing speed that may range from 20,000 to 25, 000 rpm
  • Motor rating of the CNC router machine
  • Router bit material such as high-speed steel and carbide

Closely related to this process is drilling. Here’s exactly what you need to know:

2.5. Drilling Polycarbonate Sheets

Well, this is the process of removing particles from polycarbonate sheet or film. Basically, it is another way of cutting polycarbonate sheet. But, what’s the difference between milling and drilling? It is a process where a machine uses drill bits, making holes on polycarbonate sheets or films. I know you’re curious to know what I am talking about – here it is: Safety face shield

 Safety Face Shield

As you can see, it plays an integral role in manufacturing a number of polycarbonate products. But, what can you learn from figure 12 above? To make this product, we need to differentiate polycarbonate machining and fabrication processes. That is, bending polycarbonate sheet and drilling polycarbonate sheet. What does this imply? To make polycarbonate products, you may incorporate a range of polycarbonate machining and fabrication techniques. Back to our main subject here: As a general rule, never use drill bits designed for metals to make holes on polycarbonate sheets. These drill bits are likely to chip polycarbonate sheet. Drill bits for polycarbonate sheet

 Drill bits for polycarbonate sheets – Photo Credits: HINGSTSSIGNPOST

So basically, you must modify the bits to scrape polycarbonate sheets instead of gouging or biting. Also, as you drill, support the polycarbonate sheet or film with a soft board. This will produce a fine finish at the bottom. You can easily accomplish this task using high speed steel drill bits. Even as you go about the polycarbonate drilling process it is important to:

  • Regulate the drilling speed and pressure up to a point when you will see a spiral chip. The drill speed should be between 350 to 1750 rpm.
  • Use either air or water to cool both the polycarbonate sheet and drill bit

Remember, I don’t want you to create any form of stress on polycarbonate sheet or film. Therefore, as you drill towards the end, allow the bit to enter the material at a slowing feed rate. Now, how can you make polycarbonate goggles or helmet visors? Cutting, milling or drilling alone can’t do it. You need to explore another important polycarbonate fabrication process. In fact, it is one of the most popular. Do you want to know what I am talking about – keep reading.

2.6. Injection Molding Polycarbonate Sheet

What is polycarbonate injection molding? It is the process of making items and components by injecting molten polycarbonate into a mould. A mould is a rigid material, whose shape resembles what you want to produce. That may sound complicated right? Well, let me make it simple for you to understand by giving you practical examples. Do you know motorcycle or football helmet visors? This what I am talking about: Helmet visor

 Helmet visors

Well, these are injection molded polycarbonate materials. So, as you can see the injection molding polycarbonate sheet plays an integral role in many industries. I will discuss some of these applications later in this guide – keep reading. Over the years, injection molding has become the main process for mass production of complex parts and components. This is because it allows for a range of design flexibility like in the case of polycarbonate goggles, helmet visors, etc. In fact, it is easier to meet the dynamic demands for polycarbonate products without compromising quality. Once you get a high quality polycarbonate injection molding machine, the process is very simple:

  • Feed small pieces of polycarbonate material into a heating barrel
  • Allow it to heat to a suitable temperature (of course, as it heats, it mixes material)
  • Force the molten polycarbonate into a mold – do this at high pressure
  • Let the hot polycarbonate sheet cool and harden

And, you’ll have an injection molded polycarbonate part. https://youtu.be/6L9Mu0KUOuU I know you are asking yourself – why injection mold polycarbonate sheet? Here is why:             i. Parts have tight tolerances            ii. Better part repeatability hence suitable for mass production           iii. Fast cycle time            iv. Ability to produce different sizes of parts             v. It’s faster to produce large quantity parts Closely related to injection molding polycarbonate is:

2.7. Thermoforming Polycarbonate Sheet

Very many people tend to confuse thermoforming with injection molding. So, let me start by differentiating the two processes. What is thermoforming? It is the process of heating polycarbonate sheet to pliable temperature, then manipulating it with either a female or male mold. Basically, thermoforming is a one-sided polycarbonate fabrication process. During thermoforming polycarbonate sheet, you can opt for either:

  • Vacuum forming polycarbonate sheet
  • Pressure forming polycarbonate sheet

Unlike in the case of injection molding where you’ll heat polycarbonate material in pellet form to liquid state; here you’ll use a polycarbonate sheet. Now, even though the costs of tooling system for injection molding are high the production cost is low. It is for this reason that it is more popular than thermoforming. To learn more about this process, you can watch this video: https://youtu.be/LaJc5qE9nkM This video was uploaded by Tools Factory. Now, how can you thermoform polycarbonate sheet? It is this simple:          i. Pre-dry polycarbonate sheet to a temperature of 125°C. Of course, this will depend on the amount of humidity in the plastic.         ii. Heat the polycarbonate sheet uniformly to a temperature just above the glass phtochromic temperature. The temperature should be about 180°C to 190°C. Glass transition temperature

            iii. Shape and then cool the polycarbonate material

Isn’t that a simple process – well it is, but only if you have an effective polycarbonate thermoforming machine. There’s one more thing I haven’t told you: When it comes to shaping a polycarbonate sheet, you can use many techniques. Of course, this is where we have different types of thermoforming processes. Let’s have a quick overview of the available options:

  • Vacuum forming polycarbonate; here, you will apply vacuum on the polycarbonate sheet, thus forming it into a suitable shape.
  • Drape forming polycarbonate; you can easily make uniaxial parts using this technique. In this technique, you heat polycarbonate and allow it to take the shape of negative or positive mold.
  • Pressure forming polycarbonate; in this case you will apply pressure for the polycarbonate to conform to the shape of the mould.

So, depending on the type of thermoforming polycarbonate process, you can make numerous polycarbonate products. Also, I know this is an interesting subject that you’d wish to learn even more. However, for the scope of this polycarbonate machining and fabrication guide, allow me to stop here. Learning is a continuous process. That’s why I have some links for you to learn more about this:

Apart from thermoforming, you can also opt for this machining and fabrication technique:

2.7. Joining Polycarbonate Sheet

At some point, you will wish to join two or more parts of polycarbonate sheets or films. Normally, joining polycarbonate sheets or films is one of the last stages in the machining or fabrication process. Depending on the nature of the application at hand, you may opt for the following:

        i. Assembling Polycarbonate

It is the process of using various fasteners to join sections of polycarbonate sheets together. It is one of the most common and simple ways of joining polycarbonate sheets. Take for example, after drilling holes on a polycarbonate visor, you’ll fasten it to a helmet. You can use rivets or nuts and bolts. Basically, this is what I am talking about here: Assembling polycarbonate sheet

 Assembling polycarbonate sheet

Apart from this, another polycarbonate joining process that is popular in this industry is:

      ii. Bonding Polycarbonate Sheets

Over the years, solvent bonding has remained to be one of the most popular ways of joining polycarbonate surfaces. In this process, you will apply adhesive on the exact point you want to join. There are so many ways to go about this process. You can use a bonding tape or adhesive. Whichever solution you opt for; it must be compatible with the polycarbonate sheet. Apart from that, the type of joint also plays an integral role here. Some of the most common joints include: Different Types of Joints

 Different types of joints

Alternatively, you may go for:

    iii. Polycarbonate Welding

Welding is yet another joining process that is common in the polycarbonate sheet joining industry. Unlike the other two, this process involves a lot of steps. Therefore, it is not popular in polycarbonate machining and fabrication. Now, that brings us to the end of polycarbonate machining and fabrication techniques. Does the process end here? No; Because some of these processes may leave marks on polycarbonate sheets. Or, the polycarbonate may not possess some features that will make it effective. As you might have realized, these processes only aim to change the shape of polycarbonate sheets. Of course, to form useful products. The truth is, it is important to improve the aesthetic value of polycarbonate sheet. And, how do we do that? We need finishing operations.

Chapter 3: Finishing Operations on Polycarbonate Sheets

Finishing Operations on Polycarbonate Sheets Finishing operations do the following:

  • Improve the aesthetic value of polycarbonate products
  • Increase performance and reliability of polycarbonate products

Obviously, you’re wondering how this is possible. Well, keep reading. I am going to take you through every process.

3.1. Polycarbonate Sheet Printing

Do you want to personalize your polycarbonate products? Well, printing on polycarbonate sheets is one of the most effective and reliable ways to do so. Whether you want simple or complex graphics, that are not only decorative but also functional, you can get exactly that. The best part? Polycarbonate sheet gives you the freedom to create any effect to suit your marketing needs. From basic to more advanced techniques, you can communicate your message to your audience effortlessly. For example, you may opt for:

  • Digital printing on polycarbonate sheets or films
  • Polycarbonate 3D printing
  • Polycarbonate silk screen printing
  • Polycarbonate silk screen printing, etc.

You can achieve any of these by choosing high quality polycarbonate sheet or film. Printing on Polycarbonate Sheet

 Printing on Polycarbonate Sheet

However, even as you contemplate printing polycarbonate sheet or films, compatibility is important. Don’t use inks that may degrade the surface of polycarbonate sheet or films. Remember, solvents such as xylene, cellulose acetate or toluene may degrade polycarbonate sheets or film. Just avoid them. Furthermore, the printing environment or the machine must be safe. That is, it must not interfere with the polycarbonate sheet in anyway. As a rule of thumb, whether you’re using Makrolon polycarbonate sheet, Lexan polycarbonate sheet or any other, please check their technical information. With that information, you will know the various chemical compounds that you cannot use to print polycarbonate sheet.

3.2. Sanding and Polishing Polycarbonate Sheet

These are also important finishing operations on polycarbonate sheets. Depending on your specific needs, you can opt for either dry or wet sanding of polycarbonate sheets. But, there is one reason why I don’t like dry sanding polycarbonate sheets. The process may cause gumming. It is an annoying phenomenon. However, when you wet sand polycarbonate sheet, the final surface is very smooth. But, even in the two cases, your polycarbonate sheet will require further processing to produce a glossy surface. Here is what you should do: Simply use a 2-wheel system to buff the polycarbonate surface. It will eliminate all shallow scratches and restore the glossy surface of the polycarbonate sheet or film. At times, sanding may not produce a glossy finish. It is for this reason that you should try solvent polishing. Vapour polishing polycarbonate sheet

 Vapor polishing polycarbonate sheet

With solvent polishing, you will have glossy and smother edges. Again here, you can use solvents with methylene dichloride. Furthermore, you can add glacial acetic acid. It is a slow drying compound that will prevent humidity blush from forming. And, by the way – do you know how to improve performance of polycarbonate sheets? Well, I will show you how to do it now.

3.3. Coating Polycarbonate Sheet

As I mentioned earlier in chapter 1, to improve performance of polycarbonate sheet, you must add some coating. For example, polycarbonate sheet is not resistant to fog or abrasion. Furthermore, it cannot eliminate glare, prevent graffiti, etc. What does this imply? You need to choose an appropriate coating that will improve performance of polycarbonate sheets. Take for example, to have an optical class 1 visor, you should eliminate scratches, glare, fog, etc. https://youtu.be/5J7U9IXHJyQ Now, let’s look at some of the most common coating technologies for polycarbonate sheets and films.           i. Anti-fog coating; it is a hydrophilic substrate that eliminates fog through molecular interactions of water droplets. To learn more about this technology, here is a free eBook for you: Ultimate Guide to Anti-fog Solution.           ii. Anti-scratch coating; this is a silicon based coating that forms a hard coat to prevent possible scratches on polycarbonate sheet. Check out this Complete Scratch Resistant Solution for Plastic Products.          iii. Photochromic coating; do you want a self-tinting polycarbonate sheet or film? Well, a carbon based photochromic film tints automatically on exposure to a certain threshold of ultra violet radiation. For more information about this technology, you can access a free eBook here: Complete Guide Book to Learn About Photochromic Technology.          iv. Polarized technology; this technology eliminates glare that can cause partial blindness. Basically, it increases your depth of perception.           v. Anti-reflective coating; this technology eliminates glare and excess light that can cause temporary blindness. It is made of a thin dielectric that reduces reflection and glare. In case you want to learn more about this technology, here is a simple guide for you: A Guide to Solving Glare Problem on Plastic Products.         vi. Tinting technology; they come in a range of VLT, from grey, dark brown to grey tint. This improves vision and are also stylish.         vii. Hydrophobic coating; with this coating, you will have a “self-cleaning” polycarbonate sheet or film. It eliminates dust, moisture or water droplets on the polycarbonate surfaces.        viii. UV protection coating; well polycarbonate sheet is not inherently resistant to ultra violet radiation. To protect your polycarbonate sheets, you need an anti-UV coating. What’s the point here? There are many coating technologies that you can use to customize your polycarbonate sheets and films. It will all depend on what you intend to achieve at every stage.

3.4. Hot Stamping Polycarbonate Sheet

Hot stamping is yet another decorative process. It is where you transfer ink to a polycarbonate sheet at relatively high temperature. At times, you can also call it dry printing polycarbonate sheet. Hot stamping polycarbonate sheet is a delicate process. Therefore, you need to contact the polycarbonate sheet or film manufacturer to advise you accordingly. Racing Goggles

 Racing Goggles

Under normal circumstances, you can hot stamp polycarbonate sheet at a temperature of 375°F. Of course, the pressure should be 60 psi with the dwell time being 2 to 3 seconds.

3.5. Painting Polycarbonate Sheet

If you want to improve the appearance of some of your polycarbonate sheets, then consider painting. There is nothing unique here. It is just the process of applying color pigment or paint on a polycarbonate sheet or film. But, is there anything unique about painting polycarbonate sheets or films? Well, let’s find out. Frankly, painting gives you the freedom to decorate polycarbonate sheet to your unique style and standards. You can decorate or communicate a specific message to your clients. The truth is, you can use the same technique like in the case of painting wood or metal. However, you must use paints that are compatible with polycarbonate sheets. That is, avoid paints that can corrode or interfere with the chemical or physical properties of polycarbonate sheets. Remember, there are some paints that can reduce the impact resistance property of polycarbonate sheets. Simply avoid such products. Tinted goggles

 Tinted Goggles

Depending on what you want to achieve, blending hard coats and flexible primers could give you polycarbonate a good finish. But again, before you paint polycarbonate sheet, talk to your manufacturer. You need to know whether the paint will interfere with the performance of other polycarbonate coating technologies.

3.6. Polycarbonate Laminating

When you want to improve performance of glass, you can opt for an optical level lamination using polycarbonate sheet. This is where they bond polycarbonate sheet with glass alongside an interlayer material being polyurethane. Apart from polycarbonate sheet, they can use TPU or acrylic sheet. What’s more? You can easily customize polycarbonate laminating sheet to meet your unique application requirements. Polycarbonate Panel

 Polycarbonate Panel

Polycarbonate laminating process allows manufacturers to develop surfaces with known bullet resistant capability. Of course, this offers total security in many applications, alongside the desirable properties of polycarbonate films. As you can see, machining and fabricating polycarbonate sheet alone is not enough. You need to process the polycarbonate product further to make it more functional. Whether you need a polycarbonate sheet with standard or military grade technologies, you will get exactly that. Obviously, I know you’re eager to see the different applications of polycarbonate sheets after fabrications. And, here we are:

Chapter 4: Polycarbonate Applications (Products you can make by Machining or Fabricating Polycarbonate Sheet)

Polycarbonate Applications In both chapters 2 and 3, the main focus was on various fabrication techniques which we can adopt to make polycarbonate products. Now this chapter will focus on the end products of polycarbonate fabrication. As a matter of fact, there are quite a number of polycarbonate products out there. However, for the scope of this guide, I will mention just a few. Some of the main product you can make by fabricating polycarbonate sheet include:

· Face shields

Nearly all face shields in the market today are made from solid polycarbonate sheets. Basically, they are facial protective equipment used in workplaces. Face shields prevent potentially harmful sprays, splashes and debris from getting into the face and causing injury or infections. Full Face Respirator

 Full face respirator

There are several face shields made from solid polycarbonate shield. These include; sanitary masks, UV shields, bionic shields, ballistic shields, riot shields and medical shields.

· Helmet Visors

Helmet visors are a kind of helmet with transparent visors at the eye area. Most helmet visors on the market are injection molded polycarbonate sheet. They come in different tints and designs. Basically, helmet visors protect the eyes from harmful sun rays, bright light, dust and other sparkles. Football helmet visor

 Football helmet visor

The clarity of the visor helps riders, and athletes have a clear view of what they are doing and where they are going. There are helmet visors for piloting, paintballing, football, hockey, cycling, etc.

· Auto-darkening Welding Helmets

Welding helmets are generally known to protect the eyes from welding sparks. An auto darkening welding helmet has an auto-darkening polycarbonate lens. This is not like the standard designs available on the market. Auto darkening welding helmet visor

 Auto-darkening welding helmet visor

This kind of lens does pretty much the same thing as the standard lens. However, it adjusts welding shades automatically. One doesn’t have to lift a finger on this one. It darkens and lightens as the wielder bends down to wield and as they stand up.

· Photochromic Lenses, Visors and Goggles

Are you looking for the self-tinting lenses, visors or goggles? Well, you can go for polycarbonate lenses, visors or goggles with photochromic technology. They tint automatically on exposure to UV. Look at this: https://youtu.be/Gg4L7Zbo-nY I can tell you for free –  this is one of those must-have polycarbonate accessories. You don’t have to worry about carrying an extra pair of goggles or visors.

· Plastic Mirrors

Polycarbonate mirrors have become popular in the recent past. This is mainly due to their lightweight and superior impact resistant properties. Plastic Mirror

 Plastic Mirror

Polycarbonate mirrors are suitable for public places. You don’t have to worry about the mirror getting broken.

· Car Headlight Lens

If there is one area that has benefited from polycarbonate sheets is the automotive industry. Today, a number of automotive manufacturers go for polycarbonate sheet as the primary material for the car headlight lens. Polycarbonate sheet headlight

 Polycarbonate sheet headlight

The good thing about these lights is that they are impact resistant.

· Laminated Ballistic Panel

Do you want an extra security? Or, are you looking for a material that can resist bullet penetration? It is time to consider a polycarbonate ballistic panel. Laminated ballistic panel

 Laminated ballistic panel

For a fact, laminated ballistic panel offer better safety by preventing any forced entry of projectiles. Furthermore, they offer better optical clarity

· Google Lens

A number of goggle lenses available in the market are injection molded polycarbonate material. Obviously, this is due to the numerous benefits that polycarbonate offers such as impact strength and optical clarity. https://youtu.be/-VSHJE_E1WM Moreover, you can also add other coating technologies to improve optical class 1 properties. With polycarbonate goggle lenses, your safety is always guaranteed.

· Windshield

I know you’re looking for a windshield that can withstand impact, besides being shatterproof. windshield that is light with optical class 1 properties. The good news is – polycarbonate windshields offer exactly that. You will find these windshields in race cars, tractors, military safety vehicles, etc. Polycarbonate windshield

 Polycarbonate windshield

· IP Camera Lens Cover

It is annoying to have an IP camera lens that fogs, scratches and can even break. For sure, that will be a waste of investment. But, do you know there are polycarbonate IP camera lens covers available on the market? Well, polycarbonate IP camera lens cover has high impact resistance. Besides, featuring other coating technologies such as anti-fog and anti-scratch. IP camera lens

 IP camera lens

· Instrument Panel

Like the IP camera lens cover, your instrument panel should have a shatterproof and optically clear cover. This is the only way you will read accurate measurements. Fortunately, the modern instrument panels feature a polycarbonate sheet material. It has both anti-fog anti-scratch coating. This ensures the instrument panel remains clear for easy reading of measurements. Instrument panel

 Instrument panel

· Machine Panel

The design of industrial machines should be such that they offer better safety all the time. All moving parts and components should be fully enclosed. Apart from isolating the moving sections, it should allow technicians to monitor the process. Of course, you can only achieve this using a transparent polycarbonate sheet. Also, the machine panel should be impact resistant. That is, it can’t break due to vibrations or when you knock it accidentally. Machine Panel

 Machine panel

As I said earlier, you can use polycarbonate sheet for a wide range of applications. All that matters is your ability to choose one with the right coating technology. Obviously, it must be fabricated to meet high quality standards with an appropriate machining or fabrication machine. Even with all these, I know you have many questions on polycarbonate fabrications and applications. Don’t worry, you will get all the answers shortly.

Chapter 5: Frequently Asked Questions on Polycarbonate Machining and Fabrication

Frequently Asked Questions on Polycarbonate Machining and Fabrication If you have any question on polycarbonate machining and fabrication, then you should read this chapter. This is because I am going to answer some of the most common and critical questions on the polycarbonate fabrication process. Let’s break them down:

Q 1. What kind of machines do I need for polycarbonate machining and fabrication process?

Well, there are many machines on the market such as:

  • CNC lathes
  • CNC vertical mills
  • Thermoforming equipment
  • CNC routers
  • Injection molding machines and equipment
  • CNC saws, etc.

Honestly, the type of machine and equipment will depend on the polycarbonate fabrication process. And, I’d advise you buy polycarbonate machining and fabrication equipment depending on the task at hand. Of course, if you have a big workshop, then you can have all machines and equipment. Please refer to chapter 2 and 3. You will find all polycarbonate fabrication processes and finishing operations.

Q 2. Why should I machine or fabricate polycarbonate material?

Machining and fabrication processes help to shape polycarbonate sheet to better designs and sizes. Honestly, it will be a lie to say we can use polycarbonate sheets without machining or fabricating in any way. Even if you’re dealing with anti-fog anti-scratch PC sheets there is a point you’ll have to cut them to appropriate dimensions. Remember, cutting is one of the most basic machining processes. Look at the helmet visors. You must injection mold polycarbonate sheet to get the best design. In a nutshell, we fabricate polycarbonate sheets to make them useful for different applications.

Q 3. Is there a size limit on the polycarbonate sheet I can fabricate?

No. You can machine and fabricate polycarbonate sheet of any size. Once you get the right tools and equipment; the thickness, length or width of the polycarbonate sheet will not be an issue.

Q 4. Can you recommend a DIY polycarbonate fabrication?

Well, this will depend on what you want to do. There are basic polycarbonate machining and fabrication processes you can do at home. Take for example, bending, drilling or cutting polycarbonate sheets – all you need is the right tools and equipment. However, complex procedures such as injection molding, anti-fog coating, anti-glare coating, etc. require a specialist. Let the polycarbonate manufacturer handle all these processes. Obviously, you may not have the machines to do such processes. They are expensive for small scale polycarbonate machining and fabrication.

Q 5. What precautions should I take when fabricating polycarbonate sheet?

Whenever you’re fabricating polycarbonate sheet, you must take care of three things:

  • Your safety
  • Polycarbonate material
  • Machine or equipment

I will explain: First, as a technician you must wear all the necessary safety gear. These should include goggles, gloves, boots and protective clothing. Second, you must take care of polycarbonate sheet. The safety measures here will depend on the nature of the polycarbonate fabrication process. But in general, you must protect polycarbonate from excess heat, scratches and unnecessary impact. Furthermore, take correct measurements so that you don’t end up wasting polycarbonate. Third, know how to use the machine. This will prevent misuse of the machine, Besides, handling polycarbonate fabrication machine properly will prevent unnecessary accidents.

Q 6. Will polycarbonate sheet break when I bend it?

Polycarbonate sheet is a strong and flexible material. You can bend it into any shape. You can refer to chapter 1 where I listed the main properties of polycarbonate sheet. Also, I have a valuable resource on bending polycarbonate sheet in chapter 2. Again, in case you don’t follow an appropriate procedure, you will exert a lot of stress on polycarbonate sheet. Of course, it will be susceptible to chemical attack. In such situations, it will become weak.

Q 7. Can I cut polycarbonate film?

Yes, you can. Do you remember my discussion in chapter 2? Well, there are many ways of cutting polycarbonate sheet. It all depends on the type of cut you want to make. More importantly, the choice of tool and the process play an important role here. So, choose appropriate tools and follow the right procedure.

Q 8. What should I consider before screen printing polycarbonate sheet or film?

You need to choose:

  • A quality printer; it should be one that will print polycarbonate sheet to your unique specification. Again the printer should be efficient, easy to handle, relatively fast, conserve ink and must not cause “harm” on polycarbonate sheet.
  • Orienting ink; go for an ink that is compatible with the polycarbonate. It must neither react nor cause any form of deterioration. Always check the chemical composition of the ink before anything else.

Q 9. Can I mill polycarbonate sheet surfaces?

Yes, you can mill polycarbonate sheets. Just get the right polycarbonate milling machine. However, for small scale production, investing in a polycarbonate milling machine is not economical.

Q 10. Is milling polycarbonate material different from milling metal?

Yes. Both polycarbonate and metals are two different materials. Therefore, there are some parameters that will vary. For example, the choice of the tooling system and milling speed. Also, polycarbonates tend to expand rapidly more than metals, making the milling process entirely different between these two materials.

Q 11. What is the average heat transfer rate in thermoforming molds for polycarbonate sheets?

It all depends on the specific type of mold that you want to make, the fillets and radii as well as the vacuum holes.

Q 12. How can I cool polycarbonate and tooling system during fabrication?

It is advisable to use water spray since other types of coolant substances can react with the polycarbonate. However, on most occasions, it’s unnecessary given that polycarbonate poses considerable heat resistance. Again, you can also regulate how the tooling system cuts through the polycarbonate material.

Q 13. Can I fabricate Makrolon® the same way as Lexan®?

Yes, you can. They are all polycarbonate materials. The difference is that Makrolon® is a tradename for Bayer polycarbonate while Lexan® is a tradename for General Electric polycarbonate. You can also refer to the chapter 1 of this guide – there is an in depth explanation on this matter.

Q 14. Why do tiny bubbles appear on polycarbonate sheet when heating for thermoforming?

That is likely to be water vapor present in the polycarbonate sheet. It is for this reason that you have to dry polycarbonate sheet before thermoforming. By heating it to 250°F, you will remove all moisture.

Q15. How can I bond polycarbonate sheet?

There are so many ways of joining two polycarbonate sheets. You can choose mechanical fastening, solvent bonding or adhesion bonding. Do you have any question on polycarbonate machining and fabrication? Or, is there anything else you want to know about polycarbonate sheets. Well, feel free to contact me for free consultations. I am sure you have learnt a lot since the beginning of this guide. And, it will be unfair to conclude this guide without telling you what we offer here at WeeTect.

Chapter 6: WeeTect Polycarbonate Fabrication

WeeTect Polycarbonate Fabrication At WeeTect, we offer you the best polycarbonate fabrication technologies. We have the capacity to design, fabricate and add special treatments on all polycarbonate products. Among the main polycarbonate products that WeeTect fabricates include windshield, IP camera lens cover, machine panel, helmet visors, goggles, face shields, and many more. What’s more? You can choose from a wide range of polycarbonate machining and fabrication techniques such as:

  • CAD/CAM product and tooling design
  • Polycarbonate silk screen
  • Assembly and integration of polycarbonate sheet
  • Polycarbonate injection molding
  • Polycarbonate coating
  • Polycarbonate thermoforming
  • Polycarbonate CNC milling
  • Polycarbonate laminating
  • Polycarbonate bending, among other innovative solutions.

Even when it comes to optical coating technologies, we offer both standard and military grade solutions. But that’s not all… Our engineers will work closely with your team, from conceptualization, design to the product finishing stage. Also, we offer free consultation services on polycarbonate fabrication. At every stage, we maintain high quality polycarbonate fabrication standards. Choosing WeeTect implies reasonable cost saving on polycarbonate machining and fabrication. We work with both large product distributors and OEM clients. You can choose from our standard designs or request for custom polycarbonate products. Contact us today and let us protect your workers as we pursue safety.

Conclusion

Right from chapter 1, it is quite clear that polycarbonate is a perfect material for many applications. Furthermore, it allows for a range of machining and fabrication processes, making it easy to design virtually any product. What does this imply? You can count on polycarbonate sheet when it comes to any plastic machining and fabrication process. It offers unlimited possibilities with unparalleled performance in many applications. Feel free to share your experience and thoughts on polycarbonate machining and fabrication.

Why WeeTect?
  • Military technology polycarbonate manufacturing
  • Full capacity of polycarbonate fabrication
  • Outstanding polycarbonate coating technologies
  • Optical polycarbonate injection and extrusion
  • Experienced engineer to support your design
  • Could consolidate all components for final assembly
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