Bullet resistant polycarbonate is one of the main options you have to choose from when selecting a protective glass material for your building. No material is truly “bullet proof.” So it won’t necessarily be able to stop every type of ballistic threat. But it is a great option for added protection in many instances.
Since there are a handful of different bullet resistant materials available, it’s important that you understand what each one brings to the table. Here’s a quick explanation of some of the pros, cons, and other characteristics of bullet resistant polycarbonate to help you determine whether this glazing material is the right choice.
About Bullet Resistant Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate is a synthetic material that is made up of thermoplastic polymers that contain carbonate structures within their chemical makeup. Essentially it is a plastic that is particularly strong and durable.
When used in bullet resistant systems, multiple layers of polycarbonate are laminated together using a polyurethane interlayer protective glazing material. This is designed to make the material even stronger and more durable.
Pros of Bullet Resistant Polycarbonate
Bullet resistant polycarbonate is one of the thinnest ballistic protection options available. Laminated polycarbonate systems can meet UL level 1 bullet resistance at just ¾”. This means that it is fairly light and easy to fabricate, cut, shape, notch, drill, and fasten into place. Those characteristics allow it to be produced and installed efficiently, making it a simple and relatively affordable option.
In addition to being strong and lightweight, polycarbonate is also fairly soft compared to other bullet resistant materials. Because of that softness, it can actually catch a bullet within the sheet. So the material will not shatter into dangerous shards, and the bullet will not ricochet around the room and potentially cause further damage or injury.
Cons of Bullet Resistant Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate material does have a slight tint to it. And since bullet resistant polycarbonate is made out of multiple layers, it does not offer water-like clarity. This often means that it’s not the ideal option for transaction windows or exterior systems where you want to let a fair amount of light into the space.
Additionally, although it is a very strong form of plastic and has a mar-resistant coating over the exterior, polycarbonate isn’t quite as durable as actual glass. So it can scratch or show other signs of wear over time. It is also only at its most effective when used in systems that meet the standards of UL levels 1-3. So it is not ideal for building that require higher levels of ballistic protection.
If you’re looking to learn more about bullet resistant polycarbonate, or if you want to invest in this type of system for your building, contact Insulgard today. We offer a variety of polycarbonate protective materials, along with other options like acrylic, laminated glass, and glass-clad polycarbonate. Our team can help you better understand which materials are best suited to your particular needs and create a custom system that will provide the exact level of protection you need.