Why is Plastic Fast Becoming the Material of Choice for Many Manufacturing Companies that Previously Relied on Glass?

Many manufacturing companies use glass in a myriad of ways. But, many companies use glass fabrication for producing polished mirrors and lenses. Many people will be aware that lenses are necessary for manufacturing eye glasses, telescopes and prisms. However, the lenses will need to be high-standard and incredibly precise. Even the slightest imprecision could end up affecting the efficacy of the lens. Similarly, the use of mirrors is quite common in companies manufacturing video projectors, high-definition televisions and solar panels. Some companies use mirrors for producing various home accessories. Others use mirrors for using in the automotive industry. Besides these applications, glass fabrication is essential for making wafers used in LEDs, optical sensors and power semiconductors.

Glass fabrication companies also use Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines for providing accurate and precise parts and components. The processes that these outfits use also rely extensively on Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) programs. These programs enable fabricators to machine components to exact specifications. The use of CNC machines has made it easier for glass and plastic fabrication companies. With CNC machines, fabricating companies no longer need to invest thousands of dollars towards purchasing a myriad of specialty equipment. Despite this, plastic is increasingly replacing glass as the material of choice in the fabrication world.

When it comes to transparent materials, many people will not think beyond glass. As a material, glass offers superb levels of optical clarity, rigidity and a premium finish. But, glass also features certain drawbacks. For starters, it has a high cost. This trait, when coupled with its low impact resistance, make glass incredibly tough to work with. In addition, glass can be quite heavy as well. These negative traits have forced many companies to look for suitable alternatives. Unsurprisingly, they have turned to plastics such as polycarbonate and acrylic (or Perspex). These plastics feature various beneficial traits such as:

  • Being Lighter in Weight: Glass is a dense material. As a result, many glass design and fabrication companies find its weight too difficult to work with. Installing a large glass panel will not only involve a sizeable number of people. It will need extreme care too. In contrast, acrylic and polycarbonate weigh less than half the weight of a comparable panel of glass.
  • Offering Superior Optical Clarity: Glass is popular for its superior optical clarity. It can transmit light well too. But, it is worth highlighting that glass has a light transmittance rate of 90 percent. In contrast, acrylic and polycarbonate have light transmittance rates of 92 and 89 percent respectively.
  • Offering Higher Levels of Solidity and Durability: It might be good to look at, but glass can crack under the slightest of pressure. In contrast, acrylic is at least 17 times stronger than glass. If that grabbed your attention, here’s another fact. Polycarbonate is extremely impact resistant. It is approximately 250 times stronger than glass. However, neither material will shatter like glass. Under extreme impact, acrylic can crack. In contrast, polycarbonate will usually bend under high load-bearing applications.
  • Featuring a Myriad of Colours: Acrylic and polycarbonate plastics come in a wide range of colours, tints and finishes. This makes them ideal for use in feature walls, skylights, privacy screens, splashbacks etc.
  • Being Easier to Work With: As mentioned earlier, glass is not easy to work with. In contrast, cutting, drilling, machining, bending, moulding and fabricating acrylic and polycarbonate is significantly easier.
  • Being Cheaper to Replace: Acrylic and polycarbonate are cheaper than glass. Thus, replacing them is far easier and cheaper than replacing glass.

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