Plastic, Plexiglas, PC glass, Hammerglass... What is what?

For decades, plastic sheets have been referred to in common parlance as Plexiglas. But is that really the right designation? There are several types of plastic - and not all of them can be Plexiglas. And what is Hammerglass then? We clarify the terms!

What is Hammerglass®?

Hammerglass® is a durable and optically clear polycarbonate sheet, 300 times stronger than glass - and virtually unbreakable. Hammerglass panels are coated with a hard silicon oxide layer that protects against scratches and abrasion. The surface coating also provides 99.96 per cent UV protection, which prevents Hammerglass panes from becoming cloudy or discoloured over time. Hammerglass does not contribute to the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

What is polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate (PC) is a tough, transparent thermoplastic of exceptional durability. Polycarbonate is marketed under the brand names Hammerglass, Lexan, Makrolon, Saphir and others. The difference between the various brands and makes of polycarbonate lies, among other things, in the purity and surface coating of the sheets. Without a surface coating, PC is easily scratched and will also yellow within six months. Many surface coatings serve primarily to protect against yellowing.

What is Plexiglas®?

Plexiglas® is one of several brand names for the acrylic plastic polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). In common usage, however, the term "Plexiglas" is very often (and incorrectly) used for plastic sheets in general. Plexiglas® is about 30 times stronger than ordinary glass, but sensitive to scratches and solvents. Plexiglas® is combustible.

What is acrylic plastic?

Acrylic plastic is a name for the thermoplastic polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) marketed under trade names such as Bonoplex, Perspex and Plexiglas. Acrylic plastic is sensitive to acids, acetone and other solvents. Acrylic plastic differs from hammered glass in that it cracks when it is bumped or struck - unlike hammered glass, which bends without cracking. Furthermore, acrylic plastic burns, whereas hammer glass is self-extinguishing when ignited.