Polycarbonate vs. High Impact Acrylic: Which is Best for Your Lighted Sign?

The more you know, the better...

So, you've decided to place a lighted sign at the roadside to direct traffic, increase brand awareness and, truth be told, keep up with the competition. Good decision. Now, you simply have to choose the best sign material for the job.

Yes, before you choose between flat-faced or pan-formed panels, or decide on LED lights or fluorescent bulbs, select the material you think will work best for your custom business sign. And, when it comes to lighted sign panels, the contenders are basically a polycarbonate (like Lexan®) or a high impact acrylic (like Acrysteel®). The more information you have about each, the better able you are to make a qualified, informed decision.

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Comparison Photo of Lexan and Acrylic used for Custom Signs

Impact Strength:

When it comes to impact strength, the polycarbonate outperforms Acrylic in fact, it has up to 50 times the impact strength of Acrylic. Although acrylic is high impact, the polycarbonate is virtually shatter-proof! It's so impenetrable that the clear version of it is often used as bulletproof glass.


If affordability is high on your decision-making list, the polycarbonate will have to take a backseat. It is more expensive than high impact acrylic. Polycarbonates like Lexan® are more costly because in addition to the higher impact resistance, they also offer higher light transmission and superior optical brightness. So, if price is important, go with a high impact Acrylic, like Acrysteel® or Acrylite®. It costs less, and has a few distinct advantages of its own.


In addition to the impact resistance of Acrylic, another attractive benefit is the sleek, glossy exterior. The exterior shine on the finish of a high impact Acrylic lighted sign panel can be a major "plus" to business owners. Acrylic displays color better than a polycarbonate and offers a better clarity to the sign design. When it comes to aesthetics, a high-impact Acrylic sign may simply "look better" to those with a keen eye.


With respect to "weathering", the polycarbonate may offer better panel strength and higher wind load ratings (which simply means it can withstand the forces of wind better), but both materials are perfectly capable of standing strong in high winds, and most hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes. However, when it comes to weather conditions and sun effects, Acrylic may respond a little better over the long haul. Polycarbonates tend to "yellow" over time especially on signs with white backgrounds. So, for long-term clarity, the high impact Acrylic may be the better choice over the years, it will be a lot less likely for you to see color changes caused by sun damage to your lighted sign panels.

You can't really make a "wrong" decision when comparing polycarbonate to high impact Acrylic both materials are unusually rigid and will last years. It is simply a matter of preference and what is most important to you. With information about them both, you can be confident in your choice and have the "perfect" lighted sign produced to meet your unique business needs.


If you've got questions about creating custom signs, TheSignChef.com has got answers! We're the only online sign company always ready to answer all your sign questions. Call us directly at 1.800.899.6279 to chat with us right now.


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