Different Ways To Bond Polycarbonate Sheets
In spite of polycarbonate being 250 times stronger than glass and extremely tough against any kind of impact, a sheet of polycarbonate cannot be simply adhered to another sheet using regular solvents. If done so, the material will begin to craze, meaning that it will be damaged or broken at a microscopic level, causing it to appear with hundreds of tiny little cracks on and beneath its surface. These cracks however will not be felt, and the material will still be able to bear the load, but it is always better to use proper methods to bond one polycarbonate to another. This blog will let you know how to join two polycarbonate sheets together without using physical methods like screws, rivets and tapes.
Fusing the sheets lead to seamless and invisible end results with extremely strong and resilient sheets. Apart from the great bond strength, you can have excellent optical clarity with low capital investment by the method of fusing. To fuse polycarbonates, all you need are your sheets and Methylene Chloride. You could also use a 60-40% mixture of Methylene Chloride and Ethylene DiChloride. Combining these two will give a little longer curing time than using Methylene Chloride alone, thus allowing more time to get the parts in correct position. This is why it is this mixture that is used for larger parts.
First, you must thoroughly clean the areas that need to be joined. Rinse the sheets with lukewarm water and then wash it with soapy water. Then, using a sponge or gentle cloth, wipe it in the direction of the grain. Avoid using any kind of scrubbing agent or material with a rough surface. Next, apply a small trail of Methylene Chloride along the edges of one sheet. Give it time to soak into the sheet and become slightly sticky before placing the edge into the surface of the other sheet. Apply a small amount of pressure on the sheets to encourage a stronger bond. Leave them to dry for a minimum of 48 hours. During this entire process, make sure you are working in a well ventilated area as Methylene Chloride is toxic and the fumes can be harmful.
Using an adhesive
Using an adhesive to bond the sheets together is a cheaper solution than fusing, but the strength and optical clarity as compared is also low. Using an epoxide glue, you can easily glue the sheets together just like glueing any two materials together. If you use any other glue except epoxide, your sheets will appear to have tiny little cracks all over and beneath the surface. Also as mentioned earlier, the cracks will not be felt and the polycarbonate will still remain strong, but it won’t be as clear as it was earlier.
Seldom is welding used to join polycarbonates because the degree of success has never been constant. However, since this method is used, this blog mentions it too. Any of the two types of welding – vibration welding and ultrasonic welding – are used, and the results depend on the shape and thickness of the sheets to be bonded. However, both these processes require capital investment.
Polycarbonates can also be bonded through lamination using an interlayer material like transparent Polyurethane. However, this method requires a lot of specialist knowledge, equipment and tools, which is why it is very rarely used.