Acrylic, branded under such familiar names as Lucite and Plexiglas, has many important uses and because of the highly recognized brand names substitute options are rarely considered. Polycarbonate is branded under the familiar name of Lexan and is often extruded into tubes, rods and other profiles. While both of these materials have many important uses there is another option that is often overlooked. PETG may be the more practical solution for many applications.
Acrylic has long been known as the glass substitute. It is stronger than glass, safer than glass, insulates better than glass and is not as heavy as glass. However, it is more expensive than glass and cannot be fabricated without applying heat, which means it will weaken and it will eventually burn. Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic or polymer that turns to liquid when heated and hardens to a very glassy state when cooled.
PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) has many of the same characteristics of acrylic and polycarbonate. Each are highly impact resistant and have excellent clarity. Each has a high level light transmission rate (88% Polycarbonate, 90% PETG, and 92% Acrylic).
PETG, however, is easily fabricated. It can be laser cut, routed, welded, drilled die-punched, bent hot or cold, joined by screws, rivets or bolts. PETG can be cut on a conventional table, band or radial-arm saws with blades common to plastic. Edges can be polished. Printing and decorating is easily accomplished using screen-printing, painting, and hot-stamping techniques. Surface scratches and scuffs can easily be removed with a heat gun. PETG material forms strong, clear bonds with adhesives and solvents, yet has good chemical resistance. PETG is odorless, resists chipping and cracking and will not crystallize or haze.
Yet, the most compelling reason to consider PETG is affordability. The outstanding degree of strength of PETG material makes it possible to consider the use of lower gauge thickness for some applications. The consideration of this feature, downgauging, makes it possible to use less material therefore reducing costs to produce a product. In many circumstances, this is a powerful influence to selecting PETG as the alternative to acrylic. PETG is successfully used for many applications including indoor signage, displays and fixtures, shelving systems and Point-of-Purchase (POP) displays.