If you perceive that glass is the optimal material for making windows and other items, then you should know that there are various other alternatives for glass that are available in modern times. Different plastic materials can be fantastic alternatives to glass and bring multiple advantages in comparison to glass. For instance, plastic materials can help you to get rid of the drawbacks of glass, such as brittleness, and poor structural support, and avoid the high cost and the risk of injuries. In this article, we will mention some excellent alternative materials to glass and explain why these materials are good alternatives.
1. Acrylic or Plexiglass:
Acrylic or plexiglass is one type of plastic material that has significantly popular in recent times for several advantages. Acrylic sheets are versatile and you may find different types of acrylic sheets depending on your needs, such as fluorescent and colored, mirrored, abrasion-resistant, bullet-resistant, anti-static, light diffusing, UV filtering, etc. Manufacturers also use acrylic to produce glass block windows.
Why Are Acrylic Sheets Great Alternative to Glass?
- Impact Resistance and UV Resistance:
Acrylic shows higher impact resistance and UV resistance in comparison to glass. Acrylic sheets will crack instead of breaking into small pieces like glass. Acrylic sheets can also tolerate high amounts of UV rays and are available with UV filters.
The production process of acrylic sheets takes less money and energy compared to glass. Because of its lightweight property, transporters can easily transport these sheets at a lower shipping cost. Due to lower manufacturing and transporting costs, acrylic sheets are cheaper than glass.
Acrylic sheets are 17 times stronger than glass and these sheets can withstand heavy direct force. Therefore, if your house is in a hurricane-prone area, then plexiglass will offer far better protection than traditional glass. You can also avoid the forcible entry of strangers by breaking the window.
- Light Transmission:
Plexiglass sheets are also more transparent than glass sheets. While traditional glass can transmit 80-90% of light, plexiglass sheets are able to transmit up to 92 % of light. Along with this, you will not get reflections or glare from the acrylic sheets. More importantly, these sheets will not become discolored with the increase in thickness.
Acrylic sheets are recyclable and environment-friendly alternatives and compatible with sustainable development. Manufacturers can recycle these sheets by crushing and re-melting the old sheets.
- Safety and Easy-to-use:
As acrylic sheets are strong, you have to apply enough force to break these sheets. On the other hand, glass windows will break into various sharp pieces and that can be dangerous. Plexiglass sheets are also easier to install, move, and cut as these sheets consist of flexible polymers. Whereas, glass is heavy, rigid, and fragile and therefore they are difficult to handle.
There are some limitations to using glass windows or acrylic windows in certain applications and some difficult environments. In those applications, polycarbonate sheets can meet the needs. For instance, polycarbonate plastic windows have significant applications in schools, bus shelters, subways, and psychiatric facilities due to their structural strength, high impact resistance, and flexibility in design. However, polycarbonate sheets are comparatively more expensive than glass and acrylic sheets. Despite the high cost, polycarbonate windows are preferable to glass windows for various reasons.
Why Is a Polycarbonate Window Better Alternative to Glass Window?
Polycarbonate sheets are 250 times stronger than glass and even 30 times stronger than acrylic sheets. Clear polycarbonate sheets can be as clear and transparent as glass and can provide outstanding impact resistance. Therefore, the margin of safety that this sheet provides is unmatchable with any other clear glazing material.
- Structural Support:
Polycarbonate sheets are lightweight in comparison to glass. Despite their lightweight, they need less structural support compared to any other glass system. When it comes to difficult architectural projects, both acrylic and glass materials show some structural limitations. Whereas polycarbonate sheets are applicable in different and difficult applications.
- Flexibility in Design:
Whereas you need to pre-form and fabricate glass and acrylic materials before installation, you can easily cut and cold-form polycarbonate sheets on-site.
- Different grades:
Polycarbonate sheets are available in different grades to meet different industrial applications. For instance, a certain type of polycarbonate sheet is effective in places that are exposed to extreme sunlight, whereas another type of polycarbonate material is useful to provide protection against global vandalism and accidental breakage.
Plastic can be another good alternative to glass. There are various advantages of using plastic in house and business environments. Plastic sheets are also lighter, stronger, safer, and budget-friendly. Due to various advantages, the use of plastic is increasing in today’s world.
Why Is a Plastic Sheet a Good Alternative to Glass?
Plastic sheets are extremely budget-friendly. You don’t need to afford much to purchase and install plastic sheets. More importantly, you don’t need to replace these sheets frequently.
Compared to glass, plastic is 10 to 15 times stronger. For this reason, to withstand heavy wind, plastic windows are a better option than glass windows. Plastic is also more resistant to heat than glass.
Because of its superior strength, plastic offers better safety than glass. Along with this, plastic does not break into sharp pieces. Therefore, by using plastic windows, you can avoid potential injuries to people.
- Easy to Use:
Unlike glass, plastic is easy to use during installation. You can create unique shapes and different creative designs by using plastic.
Another significant advantage of using plastic is that it can eliminate reflections and glare. Even if you increase the thickness of the plastic, it will remain transparent and clear.
In comparison to glass, plastic can be half of the weight of glass. Despite its incredibly lightweight, plastic is more thermally efficient than glass.
Wrap-Up: Acrylic, polycarbonate, and plastic are the three most popular and effective alternatives to glass. As glass has various limitations, such as poor structural support, declined strength, and the risk of injuries, it is better to use other alternatives to glass. Hopefully, this article will help you to pick the best alternative to glass for your house or business applications.