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Polycarbonate plastic is a lightweight, high-performance plastic that possesses a unique balance of toughness, dimensional stability, optical clarity, high heat resistance and excellent electrical resistance. Because of these attributes, polycarbonate is used in a wide variety of common products including digital media (e.g. CDs, DVDs), electronic equipment, automobiles, construction glazing, sports safety equipment and medical devices. The durability, shatter-resistance and heat-resistance of polycarbonate also make it an ideal choice for tableware as well as reusable bottles and food storage containers that can be conveniently used in the refrigerator and microwave (APME).
Transparency, excellent toughness, thermal stability and a very good dimensional stability make Polycarbonate (PC) one of the most widely used engineering thermoplastics. Compact discs, riot shields, vandal proof glazing, baby feeding bottles, electrical components, safety helmets and headlamp lenses are all typical applications for PC.
Polycarbonate is most commonly formed with the reaction of bis-phenol A (produced through the condensation of phenol with acetone under acidic conditions) with carbonyl chloride in an interfacial process. PC falls into the polyester family of plastics.
Polycarbonate remains one of the fastest growing engineering plastics as new applications are defined; global demand for PC exceeds 1.5 million tons.
Polycarbonate chemical buildup
Polycarbonates are strong, stiff, hard, tough, transparent engineering thermoplastics that can maintain rigidity up to 140°C and toughness down to -20°C or special grades even lower. The material is amorphous (thereby displaying excellent mechanical properties and high dimensional stability), is thermally resistant up to 135°C and rated as slow burning. Special flame retardant grades exist which pass several severe flammability tests.
Constraints to the use of PC include limited chemical and scratch resistance and it's tendency to yellow upon long term exposure to UV light. However these constraints can be readily overcome by adding the right additives to the compound or processing through a co-extrusion process.
Polycarbonate is available in a number of different grades dependent on the application and chosen processing method. The material is available in a variety of grades such as film, flame retardant, reinforced and stress crack resistant, branched (for applications requiring high melt strength) and other speciality grades. Also blends of PC are available with e.g. ABS or Polyesters, widely used in automotive industry. Processing of PC generally falls into:
Injection Moulding
Structural Foam Moulding
Vacuum Forming
Blow Moulding
Tensile Strength 70 - 80 N/mm²
Notched Impact Strength 60 - 80 Kj/m²
Thermal Coefficient of expansion 65 x 10-6
Max Cont Use Temp 125 °C
Density 1.20 g/cm3

Dilute Acid
Dilute Alkalis
Oils and Greases
Aliphatic Hydrocarbons
Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Halogenated Hydrocarbons

In recent years Polycarbonate blends have become increasingly commercially important. PC is widely used in blends due to its excellent compatibility with a range of polymers. Typical blends include rubber modified PC, improving impact properties, PC/PBT blends, which allow toughness to be retained at lower temperatures and having improved fuel and weather resistance. Amongst the most significant are those incorporating ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). PC/ABS blends exhibit high melt flow, very high toughness at low temperatures and improved stresscrack resistance compared to PC.
All Blends are produced using a compounding step to blend the polymers. This compounding technology is very important for creating the optimal morphology and interaction between the two phases. In combination with the right additive know-how (flame retardant, stabilisation, reinforcement) blends are obtained with an optimally balanced set of properties.
PC finds usage in a host of markets, notably in the automotive, glazing, electronic, business machine, optical media, medical, lighting and appliance markets
Electrical & Electronics (E&E)
The largest UK application for PC is in the optical media market (i.e. usage in computer and audio compact discs). This is followed by an assortment of sheeting and glazing applications. The rest of the market consists of electrical and electronics (hosting applications in the business machine and telecommunications market), followed by transportation (including automotive), appliances, packaging, and other miscellaneous uses.
Miniaturisation fast product cycles make the E&E market one of the most demanding for Engineering Plastics. Demands include high service temperature, spike temperature resistance, ductility and toughness in thin sections, and flammability. All of this must be delivered consistently throughout the world, with co-ordinated engineering, market development, and technical service. In the E&E market our materials are well suited to internal components and current carrying devices.
Typical examples of applications of technology are within:
power distribution (covers and housings)
    electrical household appliances
    mobile phones
    electrical chargers
    battery boxes

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