Where do your teams purchase your polycarbonate?

Was wondering where to get polycarb and what type to get.

For example, If I were to make roller arms out of polycarbonate material, what kind of polycarb would I buy?


I would recommend finding a local vendor, they’ll be the cheapest place to buy it.

Normally teams will buy .030" to .25" thick polycarbonate depending on the application.

For standard as well as more exotic shapes McMasteris good, but you pay a premium just like most of their stuff, especially on shipping of odd dimentioned products like sheets. To avoid shipping costs most hardware stores (Lowes, Home Depot, etc…) have a basic selection, usually by the storm windows.

Also, just in case, a word of warning, acrylic and polycarbonate are not even close to the same. I can’t even think of an application of acrylic on an FRC robot besides one designed to generate shrapnel. :stuck_out_tongue:

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You can look into Duraplex. It is an inexpensive impact-resistant acrylic alternative to Lexan/polycarbonate. It is available at Lowe’s in 24"x48"x0.080" sheets for about $26.

I don’t know what your roller arm design would look like or its requirements, but if it was an over-the-bumper style, I would assume you’d need a lot of torsional rigidity and strength for robot and field element impacts. There are different ways to achieve rigidity and strength, one of which could be the selection of a different support material such as plywood or sheet metal.

Just to clear (no pun intended) things up: Lexan or Makrolon = Polycarbonate = good. Plexiglas, Lucite or Perspex = Acrylic = bad (for robotics applications)

Agreed. Always shop local when you can. And they can donate it as a sponsorship opportunity. They may also have tools to work with the material in ways that’ll add to the robot’s overall quality and look.

Depending on your overall building process, you can make a 4 x 8 Sheet last 2 years or more. Our current sheet, or the quarter of it left, was purchased prior to the start of the 2013 season.

I am not a chemist, so on a scale of plexiglass to polycarbonate, how impact resistant is duraplex actually? I’m sure there are games they can play with the chemistry, but is it anywhere close to polycarbonate level durability?

A google search seems to show people on the internet are generally not enthusiastic about its impact resistance relative to polycarb.

Lexan is much more impact resistant based on one Google search result that I found. That being said, a mentor on another team tested the Duraplex by striking it with a hammer and it did not shatter. It will depend on the application of the design that will lead to a material selection.

Since the OP didn’t show a design or list requirements (roller arms could be something internal to the robot), I listed alternative products for consideration.

We buy locally from a company called Regal Plastics.

A 4’x8’ sheet of 1/16" polycarb normally runs us about $50.

For thicker sheets we buy from their scrap at $1-2/lb.

While we purchase sheet polycarbonate for mounting electronics, etc, we also use multiwall polycarbonate for very lightweight, tough armor plate and billboard area. We order 4x8 sheets of 6mm multiwall. We tell eplastics.com to cut it into 2’x4’ sections, and that really cuts down on shipping costs.

Boedeker Plastic, they are in Shiner TX. They have same day shipping and are close to IFI, so you can guesstimate the shipping time.

They have all sorts of shapes and colors, they have been my go-to plastic people for years. If you tell them you are a high school robotics team they will give you a slight discount.

Yup…they are closer to IFI than to AndyMark!

For midwestern teams, supposedly Menards has this in the building materials area. I’ve never looked for it.

We have found thicker stuff locally in DC. When I was stationed in Tampa a few years ago, Home Depot stocked the thick stuff, about 3/8" thick. We bought a few sheets of the 6 mm three years ago, and still have some stock on hand.

Here is our 2012 robot at an off season event:

The use of the multiwall polycarbonate as both armor and billboard space is quite evident on that robot. Fastens well enough with velcro and a bolt/washer/wingnut. Tough, light, and flexible enough to take a beating. Never seen a panel break yet. We typically cut it with a jigsaw or a bandsaw. (Yes, you can use a box cutter/blade, but that is a tough way to do it.) Drills easily, although I’d not depend on the drill holes for any kind of close tolerance machining.