Traditionally, lighting manufacturers used thick glass to protect the sensitive components of luminaries. Benefiting from its transparent features, the material allows ample amounts of light to pass through for illumination. However, as we all know, glass is breakable. For rugged work environments, like construction sites, operators need something more sturdy and reliable. Because of this, engineers began incorporating polycarbonate into their designs. The amorphous thermoplastic, which can also be transparent or colored (depending on its intended application), is capable of withstanding rough impacts with minimal degradation over long periods of use.
Properties and Characteristics
Compared to ABS, PVC and acrylic, polycarbonate offers higher impact strength ratings. Furthermore, working with the material is considerably easier, with less wastage during formation. Minor bends can be performed without the application of high heat.
Polycarbonate can withstand temperatures up to 155 degrees Celsius. At this threshold, the material turns into liquid. It is important to highlight that the thermoplastic can be heated and cooled several times without sacrificing durability or performance. By comparison, thermoset plastics should only be heated up once, typically when injection molding is performed. A chemical change on a molecular level prevents the reversal of the material. Exposing thermoset plastics to a second wave of high heat will cause it to burn.
Based on the benefits and characteristics of polycarbonate, it is possible understand how the material is being used to improve heavy-duty hazardous area lighting systems. Serving as a protective barrier, it prevents harsh impacts, vibrations and foreign contaminants from damaging luminaries. Moreover, the thermoplastic can be molded to create the housing of unit, resulting in sturdy, lightweight benefits.
These days, lighting companies incorporate polycarbonate in compact luminaries to reduce manufacturing costs, unwanted weight and component failure by forgoing the need to install secondary lenses. The thermoplastic is also highly resistant to ignition.