Plexiglas and Lexan are two popular products on the market for those who are looking for durable alternatives to traditional glass. While different in many ways, these brand name products fulfill many of the same roles in the marketplace, including safety panes, security windows and skylights.
Lexan is a brand name for a polycarbonate sheet of plastic. This plastic sheeting is durable, heat resistant, and so impact resistant that some "bulletproof" glass is made of Lexan. It comes in a variety of thicknesses, though the thicker the sheet, the more durable (and expensive) Lexan tends to be.
Plexiglas is also a brand name, but it is not polycarbonate. Plexiglas is made of acrylic. It is scratch resistant rather than impact resistant, but it's quite durable and comes in a variety of shades and hues. Plexiglas is also available in a variety of thicknesses and can be easily formed to the needs of a buyer.
Ultraviolet rays can break down products exposed to them for long periods of time. Plexiglas, and acrylic in general, is more resistant to UV rays than plastics are. Lexan and other polycarbonate sheets can be treated and coated with chemicals to help them resist UV rays over time, but this adds an expense that isn't necessary with acrylics.
In addition to being highly impact resistant, Lexan is very resistant to heat and fire, making it useful in areas where high temperature will be an issue. Plexiglas and other acrylics aren't comparatively impact resistant and they may break more easily than polycarbonates.
However, acrylics are scratch resistant and UV resistant, which makes them perfect for such applications as windows or skylights that are in places not prone to the violent dangers that Lexan is usually used to protect against.
Clarity and Color
Generally speaking, acrylic sheets are available in a larger variety of colors and hues than polycarbonate is. Beyond this, Plexiglas sheets have better clarity and transparency than Lexan sheets do, though Plexiglas can be ordered with lower clarity or even be opaque if the buyer wants.
Lexan's clarity is comparable, but it's never mistaken for glass as Plexiglas might be. Once again, Lexan is used for protection, whereas Plexiglas is used more for aesthetics.