Polishing Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate is the most commonly polished transparent plastic. It is second only to acrylic in clarity. Polycarbonate is readily polished via vapor polishing and is typically the method of choice for most applications.

Vapor polishing is a method which utilizes a solvent vapor to flow the surface of the component. The method can produce a polished surface on both exterior and interior features. Machined surface finish quality and cleanliness are important for success. We are happy to vapor polish customer’s machined plastic parts however for best results the machining and polishing should be done by Connecticut Plastics.

Polycarbonate can also be buffed. Buffing is mostly used on exterior surfaces in larger components. Buffing utilizes a spinning cotton wheel with cutting compound. Being a mechanical process, the wheel leaves microscopic scratches and generally is not as clear as vapor polishing.

The last approach, direct machine plastic polishing utilizes specialty tooling to produce polished finishes directly from a machine tool. Our most technical method, when combined with vapor polishing, the process can produce near flawless finishes.

Polycarbonate is a stress sensitive material. While polycarbonate has great impact resistance, such things as simply overtightening screws can cause stress cracking or crazing. For the most stable, stress free component always specify an annealing cycle after machining. Vapor polishing always requires an annealing cycle afterwards otherwise stress cracking will occur in service.