Polycarbonate is branded under the familiar name of Lexan and is often extruded into tubes, rods and other profiles. While polycarbonate tubes are used in a wide variety of applications, there is another option that is often overlooked: PETG Tubes.
PETG, like 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) shares many characteristics with polycarbonate. Both are highly impact resistant, possess excellent clarity, and feature high light transmission rates (90% for PETG and 88% for Polycarbonate).
Like polycarbonate tubes, PETG tubes are easily fabricated. They can be laser cut, routed, welded, drilled, die-punched, bent (hot or cold), and joined by screws, rivets or bolts. PETG tubes can be cut on a conventional table, band or radial-arm saws with blades common to plastic. Edges can be polished and they can be printed or decorated easily using common screen-printing, painting, and hot-stamping techniques. Surface scratches and scuffs can easily be removed with a heat gun.
The most compelling reason to consider PETG over polycarbonate tubes, is typically related to its 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 - known as 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 polycarbonate.
The only significant negative attribute to consider when specifying PETG is that Polycarbonate has much better outdoor weathering characteristics. Still, despite the fact that PETG is not recommended for outdoor use, many bird feeders are manufactured using PETG tubing and perform very well.
Other features of PETG material include its ability to form strong, clear bonds with adhesives and solvents. It also has good chemical resistance, whereas polycarbonate is sensitive to certain chemicals and solvents. Plus, PETG is odorless, resists chipping and cracking, and will not crystallize or haze.
PETG is successfully used for many applications including indoor signage, displays and fixtures, shelving systems and Point-of-Purchase (POP) displays.