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Designing with Plastics
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An ePublication of the International Association of Plastics Distribution

April 2009 | Focus: Glazing

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Transparent armor glazing solutions for increased protection


SABIC’s Lexan* Margard* sheet can be an excellent candidate for store security partitions and doors.

SABIC’s Lexan* Margard* sheet can be an excellent candidate for store security partitions and doors.

Amid heightened concerns about personal protection and security from both natural and human threats, transparent armor laminates are gaining popularity for glazing applications. Armor laminates can be found in applications ranging from buildings, guardhouses, armored vehicles, and detention centers to schools and banks to critical infrastructure such as power plants, government buildings and embassies.

Laminates made of polycarbonate and glass deliver exceptional heat and impact resistance, along with outstanding energy absorption, lightweight and anti-spall (the spray of glass fragments) properties. These glazing products meet widely recognized standards — such as ASTM, UL, HP White, NIJ, and European standards EN356, DIN 52290 PART3, EN1063 and DIN52290 Part2 — and may provide protection against many of the overpressures and fragments associated with explosions. They have been tested to absorb up to 57 psi — the equivalent of 4,300 pounds of TNT detonated from 115 feet away — and may withstand gunfire from weapons ranging from 9 mm handguns to 7.62 mm NATO high-powered rifles.

A variety of armor laminates have been engineered to help defend buildings — and their occupants — against ballistics, forced entry and bomb blasts. These products can help provide greater safety, protection and peace of mind in a wide range of threatening situations.

Laminated glass and polycarbonate sheet
Laminated glass and polycarbonate (PC) sheet grades may help provide a highly effective barrier against a variety of ballistic assaults without spalling on the protected interior surface. They meet the full requirements of UL 752 up to Level 8 and are available in no-spall or low-spall design. No-spall designs feature an exterior glass (threat side) surface with a polycarbonate sheet interior (safe side) surface for increased UV and mar resistance, while the low-spall version provides glass on both interior and exterior surfaces and is designed to help stop bullet penetration.

Glass-clad polycarbonate laminates
Designed to help withstand impact from implements ranging from hammers and axes to propane torches-and-fire extinguishers, glass-clad PC laminate is targeted primarily as protection against smash-and-grab raids. This product is designed to protect an opening where forced entry or exit is of main concern. This type of laminate combines the excellent aesthetics of glass with the forced entry protection of a polycarbonate core and can be formed into curved shapes. In detention facilities, for example, curved glazing can improve monitoring by eliminating blind spots and restricted viewing caused by metal bars.

Glass-free polycarbonate laminates
Polycarbonate laminates can help provide ballistic, bomb-blast and forced-entry protection. Constructed from PC sheet layers bonded with proprietary interlayers, these glass-free laminates offer extremely high-impact resistance and absorb impact energy without spalling. They also provide significant weight savings over conventional glazing. They are protected against abrasion, chemicals and UV light by a polycarbonate sheet coating. These laminates are suitable for flat applications only.

In addition to armor laminates, polycarbonate sheet can be an excellent candidate for security glazing to help prevent burglary from forced entry. It may help delay a burglar to the point where he/she simply gives up the attempt or is detected. Either way, it helps protect premises and property, and re-glazing costs may be eliminated.

Safety glazing polycarbonate sheet will not shatter or splinter, greatly reducing the risk of accidental injury in applications like internal partitions and doors. It is also an excellent candidate for safety screening in sports stadiums and other outdoor applications such as acoustic screens for deflection of traffic noise in built-up areas.

View the complete article online.

This article was written by SABIC Innovative Plastics.

In This Issue:
Transparent armor
glazing solutions for
increased protection

Security glazing helps defend buildings from ballistics, forced entry and bomb blasts.

See-through plastic installation guidelines
Tips for installing polycarbonate glazing panels.

Versatility in glazing plastics
Plastics materials are suitable for a variety of applications.

Test your knowledge
What do you know about plastic materials used for glazing?

Online plastic resources
IAPD offers many online search resources at and, including distributor, processor, trade name and fabrication capability searches.

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Search for Plastics Fabrication Capabilities

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About IAPD
The International Association of Plastics Distribution, founded in 1956, is an international trade association comprised of companies engaged in the distribution and manufacture of plastics materials.

Members include plastics distributors, processors, manufacturers, resin manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives and associated products and services, all of whom are dedicated to the distribution channel.

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See-through plastic installation guidelines


Coverlite™ solid polycarbonate glazing by AmeriLux International LLC.

Coverlite™ solid polycarbonate glazing by AmeriLux International LLC.

Polycarbonate glazing panels are available in many forms, such as multi-wall, corrugated and solid sheets. You can always expect high light transmission, light weight, high flexibility, excellent impact strength, UV protection against yellowing and easy fabrication guidelines from polycarbonate panels. Tip: Polycarbonate has an impact strength that is 200 times stronger than glass and 10 times stronger than acrylic.

For storing polycarbonate glazing panels at the job site, keep the sheets in a dry area out of direct sunlight or heat. Exposing the panels to heat from the sun can cause the protective film to adhere to the sheet surface making it difficult to remove. Tip: If you are having trouble peeling off the protective film, wait for the temperature to drop, which will cool the sheet and should make it easier to remove.

Always remember to make sure the UV-protected side of the sheet is facing out on the exterior of the application. Most all of the polycarbonate manufacturers either put a sticker on the UV-protected side or print it on the protective film masking. Tip: If you have removed the film and are not sure which is the exterior side of the panel, take a “black light” in a dark area and shine it on the surfaces of the sheet. The side that glows a bright blue color is your UV-protected surface.

Never remove the entire sheet of protective film from your polycarbonate panel until after installation. The film is put on the polycarbonate to protect it and to identify the UV-stabilized side of the sheet. Without the masking, it is very hard to tell which side is the UV-protected surface. It is recommended that the film be removed about 2" from the edges around the sheet during installation. Finish by removing of the entire sheet of film immediately after the panel has been installed. Tip: Remove the film after each panel is installed, not after the project is completed.

During fabrication and installation, drill screw holes 5/64" larger than the screw diameter allowing for thermal expansion. This extra space will provide for seasonal temperature fluctuation which causes the sheet to expand and contract. When cutting the polycarbonate panels, use a circular saw with a fine-tooth blade (minimum 10 teeth per inch). On thinner gauge sheets, a razor knife can be used to cut the sheet. Remember to cut on both sides of the sheet if you use a razor knife. Always point fasten your sheets at least 1-1/2" in from the sheet edge. On multi-wall polycarbonate panels, the ends of the sheet need to be sealed with either a polycarbonate U profile or perforated aluminum tape. Sealing the end of the sheets keeps dirt and debris out of the flutes. Tip: Compressed air may be used to clean debris from the flutes.

If the application requires bending, polycarbonate can easily be cold formed, thermoformed and vacuum formed. The radius of the curve on cold forming depends on the thickness of your panel. Check with the manufacturer for “minimum bending radius” and forming guidelines. Each polycarbonate panel from solid sheet to multi-wall sheet will require slightly different forming guidelines depending on the sheet configuration. Tip: On multi-wall panels, make sure to place the ribs running the length of the arch, not parallel to the center of the arch.

After installation, panels should be washed. Polycarbonate can scratch easily. Never rub abrasive particles on the sheet surface. Use a mild soap solution with a soft cloth to loosen any dirt or debris and then rinse with clean water. Do not use any harsh chemicals on the sheet surface as it can compromise the integrity of the UV protection and strength of the sheet. Call the manufacturer for a list of chemicals compatible with polycarbonate. Tip: Use mild dishwashing detergent as your cleaning solution.

Polycarbonate panels in solid, multi-wall and corrugated can be used in various applications from interior projects like ceiling panels or office partitions to exterior building materials used in skylights, walkways, greenhouse glazing and insulated roofing. The possibilities for polycarbonate are endless! Make polycarbonate your material of choice on your next glazing project.

View the complete article online.

This article was written by Tami Churchill Voss, AmeriLux International LLC.

Versatility in glazing plastics


Marlon FS solid polycarbonate created impressive dome rooflights for a football club in Glasgow, Scotland.

Marlon FS solid polycarbonate created impressive dome rooflights for a football club in Glasgow, Scotland.

The extensive range of premium quality plastic materials available today provides the opportunity to create exciting and diverse projects for recreation. From polycarbonate sheet in a range of solid, profiled and multi-wall products, to a variety of matte, gloss, composite and anti-static foam PVC sheet, to solid acrylic sheet and opaque, flat polycarbonate sheet, the possibilities are limitless!

Polycarbonate in particular is an extremely versatile product. Polycarbonate can withstand a continuous service temperature of up to 100°C (212°F), can easily be thermoformed and fabricated, and can be worked with standard workshop equipment.

Polycarbonate’s ease of fabrication proved successful for a large-scale project. The design for a football training academy for Glasgow Rangers Football Club was developed to ensure maximum natural daylight within and to enhance the internal environment and playing conditions. Conical roof structures at each of the two entrances, with an 8.4 m radius and 5.8 m radius respectively, were double glazed using solid polycarbonate, allowing a flood of natural daylight into the entrance areas, transforming them into dramatic and bright spaces. Polycarbonate’s ability to be cold-bent on site or pre-formed beforehand made it ideal for use in the domes, combined with its impressive impact resistance up to 200 times that of glass with only half the weight.

Another feature of the training academy is a large, 5.8 m wide x 47.8 m long glazed vault rooflight, again produced using solid polycarbonate sheet. It was created over the indoor pitch to give a high volume of evenly spread direct natural light and provide a good playing environment. Polycarbonate is available in a wide variety of tinted options and this also proved useful, as care was needed to achieve the right combination of natural light into the building without glaring brightness. The designers also wanted the rooflight to tone in with the exterior envelope, so they used a combination of a 6 mm thick clear outer skin and 3 mm thick bronze inner skin to achieve the perfect result.

Similarly, Manchester City Football Club utilized two forms of polycarbonate to create the perfect stadium. The club started the 2003-2004 football season in a new £135 million state-of-the-art stadium, after moving in­to the City of Manchester Stadium from Maine Road. Built originally for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, some major reworking of the stadium was completed before it was ready for the football club. This included finishing the unique “bowl” design of the stadium and fully completing the curving canopy over the seating. The front third of the can­opy, approximately 1,500 linear meters, was produced from profiled polycarbonate, profiled to match the metal sheet that forms the re­maining two-thirds of the roof. The 1.5 mm thick transparent sheets were specially manufactured to accommodate the curvature of the can­opy through three planes, while still allowing easy on-site installation into the roof support system.

Profiled polycarbonate can be supplied with co-extruded UV protection which not only cuts out 98 percent of harmful UV but also offers a guarantee of continued performance in prolonged outdoor exposure, making it the perfect option for recreational stadiums. As with all forms of polycarbonate, it provides su­perb optical clarity, high impact resistance and can withstand temperature ex­tremes without any significant deterioration of its mechanical or physical properties. Clear and tinted forms will also allow either maximization or control of light transmission. Good workability combined with impressive durability and excellent fire performance creates a highly versatile sheet.

Below the roof, solid polycarbonate with double sided co-extruded UV protection was used as a clear vertical glazing material to produce a visual separation between the stadium walls and the canopy, giving the effect of the canopy being suspended and floating. The polycarbonate creates a wind break and supplies weather protection to the spectators while still allowing air to circulate.

Profiled and multi-wall polycarbonate are used extensively in parts of the world where skin cancer is a problem. As strong, lightweight materials they are ideal for glazing a huge variety of can­o­pies, from simple lean-to structures to much more complex pitched roofs. Cut­ting out 98 percent of harmful ultra­violet radiation, they allow people to en­joy the sun while minimizing the associated risks.

Multi-wall polycarbonate is also ideal for a range of leisure applications, including swimming pool covers, conservatories, outdoor shelters and walkways. This remarkable insulating material provides a range of insulation options and is a highly efficient means of preventing heat loss, while tinted options also offer solar control and can reduce heat build-up in hot climates.

Polycarbonate is an outstandingly versatile material, being used in applications as di­verse as international stadiums and jukeboxes. It helps people make the most of their leisure time in a huge variety of ways.

View the complete article online.

For more ideas, there are many glazing application articles online at Just check "glazing" when you search the archives to find them. There are also many other free resources on the IAPD web site at

This article was written by Andrea Copithorne, Brett Martin Ltd.

Test your knowledge

What do you know about plastic materials used for glazing? (Answers are at

1. Which of the following would be the most effective method to manufacture large runs of polycarbonate window panes from full sheets?

  1. lathe
  2. screw machine
  3. router
  4. milling machine

2. Which of the following ratings would be best suited for a glazing material if needed for protection from a .44 Magnum gun?

  1. UL 752 Level 8
  2. UL 752 Level 3
  3. NIJ Level III
  4. WMFL Level III

Online plastic resources

Your IAPD distributor is your choice in finding the right material for your application. Go to to find a distributor in your area. You can search by company name, location or product category.

The IAPD Magazine web site at allows you to search by material, trade name and fabrication process. You can also search for fabrication capabilities.

Piedmont Plastics Inc.

© 2009

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Designing with Plastics is published by the International Association of Plastics Distribution. While every effort has been made for accuracy, IAPD encourages you to verify information with a plastics distributor to ensure you select the correct plastic products to meet your needs.