Polycarbonate (PC) plastics are polymers that have multiple desirable characteristics, making them a success in the global market across industries. With transparency similar to glass, polycarbonate plastics are impact resistant, flexible, and lightweight. Polycarbonates are not scratch resistant, but any anti-scratch coating can be added. Similarly, adding other components to the polymer can boost the heat handling capacity of the PC.
Currently, polycarbonate is used to make items such as medical devices, car windows, plastic lenses in eyewear, tubes, greenhouses, digital discs, and 3D models. Industries utilizing polycarbonate include the automotive industry, electrical & electronics, construction, packaging, medical devices, optical media, and consumer goods. Since polycarbonate is a thermoplastic and can be melted and recast into different models without degradation in quality, this increases its appeal as a product pan-industries.
The global demand for PC products is projected to reach $14.58 billion by 2022, and polycarbonate blends with other polymers are expected to be high demand drivers for any polycarbonate manufacturer. By blending the polycarbonate with other polymers, the intrinsic qualities of the PC can be boosted, for example, its heat handling capacity. Popular polymers to blend with PC include polyester, nylon and styrenic copolymers.
Polycarbonates are widely used in the automotive industry, most commonly as glazes on surfaces, headlights, sunroofs, and windows. Due to the impact resistant traits of polycarbonates, they are used for bullet-proof windows as well. Regulatory policies are further encouraging automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to use plastics such as polycarbonates in place of glass as a means of reducing vehicular weight. By reducing vehicular weight, fuel efficiency is significantly improved.
According to estimates, nearly 81 million automobiles were sold worldwide in 2018, an increase from the 79.02 million sold in 2017. The rising demand for automobiles correspondingly increases the use of polycarbonates.
Electrical & Electronics
As polycarbonates are good electrical insulators and have flame-retardant properties, they are used in various electrical and telecommunications hardware products such as connectors, power housings, and battery boxes. The use of plastics makes electrical goods lighter, safer, quieter, more environment-friendly, and more durable. Consumer electronics such as CDs, DVDs, smartphones, phone battery covers all use polycarbonate.
The overall electrical and electronics segments make up a significant portion of the overall consumption of polycarbonates.
The strength, optical clarity and dimensional stability of polycarbonates have made them one of the most commonly used engineering thermoplastic materials in the medical device industry. Polycarbonate is used in a variety of apparatus including intravenous connectors, anesthesia containers, blood oxygenators, hemodialyzers, endoscopic appliances, and arterial filters.
In critical situations, devices made of polycarbonate are lightweight making them easy to handle, strong enough to prevent breakage and transparent, which allow medical professionals to visually gauge the level and flow rate of liquids passing through the device. Medical equipment which was earlier made of glass are now being replaced with versions made with polycarbonate.
Polycarbonate features such as its transparency, strength, malleability, reusability, and light weight make PC plastics an ideal replacement for glass across various industries. Since polycarbonate is easy to handle, it is also a popular choice as raw material for 3D printers. The growth opportunities in the polycarbonate market are significant. By blending the PC with other polymers, its applications can increase multi-fold.