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So far Alyxa McKee has created 15 blog entries.

Polycarbonate: Strength through Flex

PolycarbonatePolycarbonate is a unique material that is 260X stronger than glass, but yet can looks so much like glass people get them confused! Being strong is awesome, but what makes it so strong? I want to quickly explain what gives polycarbonate (Lexan®) its’ strength. It’s all about being flexible!

That’s right, polycarbonate has a flex to it so it is not rigid and stiff like glass. This flex gives polycarbonate its phenomenal strength and protective properties. We actually see this in other aspects of building materials. It might seem strange but a similar idea is used when building skyscrapers and bridges. When a skyscraper is built the building has to be “flexible” at the top. These buildings technically sway a little so they can withstand the weather they face 24/7. Some large bridges have a similar approach to facing the weather. So we look at that flex as an incredibly good thing!

When you hit a glass window with a rock you see that the glass cannot do anything with the force coming at it so it shatters and the rock goes right through. However, you threw a rock at our polycarbonate windows and you can see the polycarbonate flex and move to keep the rock from penetrating the window. We have a great demonstration video of this on our YouTube page. The flex is important for your safety as a drive or operator!

A customer reached out to use and shared a story with us that shows this first hand.

“Anyways I am very glad I bought it in the end. I had been debating it as I was only going to do 7 days mulching on my property and then probably never again. Wasn’t sure about the expense as I thought I could maybe just be careful, and use the glass one. However, on day one I was mulching away and a 3” rock somehow flew out the back and hit so hard I think the windshield actually bowed into the cab. I am positive it would have shattered the glass one and come into the cab. Who knows how much damage that could have done to me. Glad I don’t know.”⁠

glass

That is what we call a strong windshield! We are glad our customer was safe and did not just try and “be safe” with his glass windshield. Now flexibility allowing for superior strength will not work if you are talking to your personal trainer, but it will keep you safer on the racetrack and on a job site! One note that we want everyone to learn. Different gauges of polycarbonate are going to show this flex more than others. Our 1/4″ for example will have more natural movement due to its thinner nature. However, our 3/8″ is going to be more rigid and our 1/2″ is going to be solid while operating your machine. When using 1/4′ due to its strength and movement some skid steer cabs have some tricks to work with movement. Be sure to give us a call and we can help you with that.

 

Until next time,

Your SHIELDS® Team

To learn more about polycarbonate and our gauges check out this post

By |2020-09-04T16:01:38+00:00September 4th, 2020|Education, Polycarbonate, Uncategorized|0 Comments

SUPERCOAT™ What Makes Us Different

SHIELDS® people, today we are going to dig into a part of our business that sets us apart from our competition. Our proprietary SUPERCOAT™ is the hard coating that we add to our polycarbonate products. This coating gives you a windshield with a scratch-resistant surface that is abrasion resistant to steel wool! So, you get the perfect OEM fit and function with the best scratch resistance, but how? Let’s dig into our SHIELDS® SUPERCOAT™ and talk in terms of candy!

Yes, candy! To explain how we have a hard coating on our products with the perfect form we like to use a 3 Musketeers candy bar as an example. When you buy a new 3 Musketeers candy bar you have a flat bar with hard chocolate all over it. What happens to the chocolate when you bend the candy bar, it cracks and breaks, right? That is what happens when you try to form and bend polycarbonate with the coating on it. Many of our competitors know this so they use a coating that is softer, not hard chocolate. They can then bend the candy bar without the coating cracking. That is okay, but the scratch resistance is not nearly as good.

 

That is when we realized there is a better way to handle a candy bar. We don’t accept not having both the best coating and the perfect form, so we do not compromise. To get this we take our candy bar and shape the nougat into the perfect form first! Then we bring in the chocolate and add it to the nougat. You end up with the best of both, our SUPERCOAT™ and the advantage of SHIELDS® form, fit, and function! If our windshields were a candy bar, they would be the tastiest and the coolest looking in our opinion.

That is a quick take on our hard coating we have a video demonstration of this on our Instagram page. You can also learn more about what we do on our other posts like, how polycarbonate is better than glass. But, don’t just take our word for it, check it out for yourself, and try a SHIELDS® replacement windshield! You can find our entire retail line here and order quickly and easily online. 

Until next time,

SHIELDS® Team.

 

By |2020-08-24T18:00:22+00:00August 24th, 2020|Education, product properties|0 Comments

Polycarbonate Guages & Why They Are Important

SHIELDS® people, I want to break down polycarbonate gauges and explain why it is important to know what thickness you are ordering your SHIELDS® replacement window and why!

One of the main reasons to go from glass to polycarbonate (AKA Lexan, Safety glass, etc – if the names are confusing read this post) is because polycarbonate is 260X stronger than glass! Glass is just going to break, it is not “if” but “when”. Maybe a bias statement, but we have not been proven wrong yet. If you are new to SHIELDS® it is fair to warn you, we are confident in what we do here, it is our passion!

Now that you are aware of our confidence let’s dive into today’s topic. We offer three gauges for each of our products, 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″. When replacing glass this is a serious choice. Talking to our customers, we let you order whichever gauge you desire; however, we strive to ask as questions that can help lead you to the safest decision. Over the phone, it might come across as an “upsell”. That is not the goal, I assure you. We want YOU to be the safe and sometimes that means suggesting that you need the 1/2″ gauge. I may be jumping ahead, let’s go through each gauge of polycarbonate and what its’ suggested use may be.

1/4″ Replacement Windows

Let’s begin with 1/4″. Quater inch polycarbonate is the simplest to understand. The general explanation we use is this: If you are using 1/4″ glass and are fine, then our 1/4″ poly will be perfect.  You will have use of the same hardware, and your wipers will work great. Our 1/4″ gauge windows and doors replace glass great for most applications BUT there are circumstances where you might want a heavier gauge. A note for anyone dealing with cars or racing, this does not necessarily pertain to your applications. For questions about racing and cars, give us a call!

3/8″ Replacement Windows

Okay, onto our middle thickness, 3/8″. This gauge is one we suggest when your application involves any of the following but not limited to: GRASS MOWING, GENERAL CONTRACTING, AND MATERIAL HANDLING. To be as clear as we can be 3/8″ is NOT suggested for demolition, skid steer loader brush clearing, or wood processors. If you think you might someday do any of these you will want to get a heavier gauge. We have come across people getting a 3/8″ door or window and a year later decide to do some brush clearing. If this is you, you will want to upgrade thicknesses purely for safety reasons. We might sound like the cup is half full; however, you never know what is hiding in that brush! We are the plastic people, have a little faith in us, we promise your safety is at the top of our list.

1/2″ Replacement Windows

That leads us to our final gauge, our 1/2″ thick polycarbonate. This is the gauge when someone is uncertain or your work includes, but not limited to the following: DEMOLITION, SKID-STEER FORESTRY APPLICATION, GROUND CLEARING, BRUSH CUTTING, WOOD PROCESSORS, OR TREE SHEARS. This is a short list to help you understand that our 1/2″ polycarbonate is the safest choice. There are more applications that would apply. When ordering over the phone we ask that you share your application with us as we want to ensure you are ordering the appropriate polycarbonate replacement window.

We love it when customer call; however, we do have an online store. This is hands-off for you. Like other online stores, you can select what you want, put your info in and presto, you ordered your SHIELDS® polycarbonate replacement window! (This is for heavy equipment only, sorry car people, be patient yours is coming!)We are proud of our store; however, this puts the responsibility in YOUR hands as the customer! It is your choice on what you order. Therefore, if you have questions about gauges, I hope I have answered them and we are always here to answer your questions.

Stay safe out there, SHIELDS® people!

1-800-554-7527

www.shieldswindshields.com

By |2020-08-07T11:30:49+00:00August 7th, 2020|About SHIELDS®, Education, Heavy Equipment|0 Comments

Polycarbonate and Glass – What is poly?

I grew up in the world of polycarbonate and plastics. Always hearing the internal lingo, polycarbonate, and all the numbers that go with the different kinds, seemingly endless.  Now working for the company, I realize just how many names people have for our product. To clarify, we are a polycarbonate thermoformer. We specialize in forming and coating optical grade heavy gauge poly for all types of vehicles and equipment! Some of the names used for our product make me shiver and some just make me laugh. For example, polycarbonate and glass material get mixed up a lot! To many people this is a minor fact; however, you would be blown away at the confusion this can cause. I want to go through some of these with you because we believe being having more knowledge aids you in all aspects of life, even if it’s about plastic!

#1 Plexiglass AKA Acrylic

Plexiglass shield. Gets mixed up with polycarbonate

This is a plexiglass COVID 19 shield

To start I want to talk about the #1 misnaming for polycarbonate, Plexiglass! Poor Plexiglass gets its’ name thrown around for everything. Plexiglass is a brand name of acrylic. Acrylic is a beautiful material that works great for trophies, tables, wine holders, anything decorative, or not in need of increased safety. This is because acrylic is breakable, even at thicker gauges, but it is nice and shiny!  Due to the current state of the COVID 19 crisis, Plexiglass and other acrylics have been in high demand for sneeze guards all around the country. We too have joined in producing these for our local schools and businesses. Acrylic is a great material, but it is not polycarbonate and not what you want to put in your skid steer!

#2 Polycarbonate and Glass!

 

Okay, now for the giant, glass! Many people refer to all windows and windshields as glass, regardless of the material. This is not a problem as long as everyone knows that glass and polycarbonate are clearly not the same. We actually take it as a compliment when our poly doors are mistaken for glass! However, there are big differences between glass and polycarbonate. Our poly windshields and doors are half the weight of glass and 260X stronger than glass. Isn’t that crazy? I mean it is crazy, but we believe in our product so much we take hammers to it! Seriously, we go to trade shows and hit our windows with hammers to show off its’ strength, try that on your glass window! (We have a lot of fun at shows!) The separation comes with the most common question about poly, does it scratch? Glass is a hard material and polycarbonate is a soft material, that allows it to be stronger. What do we do to fix that? We apply our proprietary SUPERCOAT™, you can check out more about that here.

Oh, and ignore my tongue, but this is a great video showing my power at swinging a hammer!

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By |2020-07-16T18:06:55+00:00July 16th, 2020|About SHIELDS®, Education, Polycarbonate|0 Comments

Polycarbonate – Do You Know What It Is?

I have made making polycarbonate windshields and windows my career, and I couldn’t be happier. I have grown up around thermoforming various plastics, but nothing compares to polycarbonate – and nothing even comes close working with high optic grade polycarbonate, especially in heavier gauges. I imagine the most challenging aspect is taking a heavy gauge plastic that does not want to be heated, let alone put into a complex 3D shape, and not only making it stable and stress-free in that shape, but making it optically correct for a driver or operator. The most enjoyable aspect is taking that optically correct heavy-gauge windshield or window – and selling it to that driver or operator. And while I enjoy selling my SHIELDS® Windshields to customers over my few competitors that attempt to make optically correct polycarbonate without stress and full geometric shape (is it too arrogant to say that when I go head-to-head with any other polycarbonate thermoformers they cannot compete with my quality and consistency. They can only beat me on price, and I never apologize for producing the premier polycarbonate windows in the world and pricing my SHIELDS® windshields as such,

but what I truly enjoy the most is getting my SHIELDS® windshield to replace a currently used (often broken) glass windshield. Because when that happens, I know I have done my job: everyone knows about glass, but few know the overwhelming benefits of a SHIELDS® polycarbonate windshield – so I am an educator more than a salesman.

To me, there are three main aspects when educating people on polycarbonate – in particular my SHIELDS® line of windshields, windscreens, & windows: What do they know about glass? What do they really know about polycarbonate? And why SHIELDS® offers polycarbonate windows unmatched worldwide.

So, I start with glass – and I ask what they like about having a glass windshield (with the only real answer is surface hardness – polycarbonate beats glass in every other category). I get various answers, but often they come down to these four: It came with the car/truck/excavator/loader, etc… It’s clear and/or not distorted. It won’t scratch. Don’t have to take any special precautions to care for it.

Ok, so then I ask what they don’t like about using a polycarbonate windshield (not unusual it is here I have to offer additional ‘names’ for polycarbonate because most people lump all plastics together – I will address these names in a moment and show how this helps educate them). Again, the answers vary (depending on the level of knowledge or experience the person has with plastics) and nearly all have to do with a cousin or an uncle that once tried to use Plexiglass® to replace a busted window in his garage door or a buddy that had a used bass boat with a cheap piece of plastic glass or my brother-in-law, well ex-brother-in-law, had a piece of that Lexan® and we shot it – it ain’t bulletproof…

After that the reasons are near all the same: It scratches, it’s distorted, it’ll yellow in the sun, it doesn’t fit right, and its cheap plastic. Honestly, I love hearing all these – it reminds me of the shoe company in America at the turn of the 20th Century – a forward-thinking executive had the idea of sending his most seasoned salesman to the heart of Africa to drum up sales. Now after a few months and no communication, he decided to send another salesman, a young rookie. Not long after the rookie boarded the ship, they finally received a telegram from the senior salesman: “Covered nearly every square mile of the land, no one wears shoes here, I’m coming home.” Well, the executive was bummed but figured it was worth a try and his youngster would soon learn the same and head home. However, not days after he arrived in Africa, the young rookie telegraphed back to the company: “This is fantastic! No one wears shoes here – send me as many pairs as you can!”

 

Well, when I see a glass windshield and/or hear why they don’t like cheap plastic, I don’t see a satisfied glass customer, I see an uneducated driver or operator – and I cannot wait to teach them.

The first thing I tell them is that unfortunately, polycarbonate is certainly not cheap – and then begins to weed through polycarbonate by name. Many people will use the word Lexan® or some may use Tuffak® when referring to polycarbonate – and they are not incorrect – those are brand names of polycarbonate – I often use Bud Light and Coors Light as examples – they are both beers. I have even had people argue with me over the fact they don’t like polycarbonate, but they do Lexan® – after a pause, I bring up the beer thing again…

The first SHIELDS® windshield hangs in the factory to this day.

I will get several people asking if I sell Plexi or Plexiglass® windshields. I say, do you mean acrylic (which Plexiglass® is a brand of acrylic more on acrylic in another blog) Now that answer ranges from, “No, I mean plexi, the bulletproof stuff” – which means a longer education session – to “Well, I don’t know” – which means I have a focused student! I had an offshore boat customer – excellent customer and boat builder – tell me he wanted bulletproof windows for his V hull boat. I explained to him that while ½” polycarbonate is extremely impact resistant, it is not bulletproof; however, it would do the job for him on his 300+ mph boat with twin Huey helicopter turbine engines on the back. Not long after setting the world speed record, he called to say they did a special on him on TV, and how I could watch it. It was a great special – right up to where they asked if he was afraid looking through his glass windshield (which is a compliment – my SHIELDS® windshields are often mistaken for ‘glass’ – especially if a drag car runs in a series that requires ‘stock glass’); well to answer the question, he simply slid across the boat’s deck and thumped the outside of the windshield and said, “nope – I got bulletproof plastic glass right here”! I knew I had to up my teaching game!

When I first went door to door in Mooresville, North Carolina, in 2000 selling my SHIELDS® line to the NASCAR world – I quickly learned there were many different ways in which polycarbonate was named, and, oh, how poor the quality of the polycarbonate windows they were using. Since it was relatively new to the sport, some teams had early on used flat sheet from Lowe’s or Menards. Some still must by the looks of the horrible ‘flat’ windshields in NASCAR today – I do not produce for them anymore. They would rough cut them and force them into the opening and bolt down. They told me they knew it was safer but couldn’t see (distortion) and could hardly clean ‘em “cuz they hazed up immediately!” One crew chief (yes, I asked for and was introduced to the crew chief on nearly every cold call that week) said, we use that Lexan® glass from the store but didn’t like it – but he did like the looks of my ‘different’ glass I had – I had a sample

My son and daughter cheesin’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same trip.

SHIELDS® polycarbonate Taurus windshield, formed to perfect shape and coated with an early version of our SUPERCOAT™ hard-coat. I explained it was the same Lexan® ‘glass’ he had but with a few critical upgrades. He then snickered a bit and said he better stand back so he doesn’t accidentally spill his coffee on it and ruin my show glass. As we stood there in the front yard of the Jasper Motorsports shop, with my son propping up the SHIELDS® windshield (he was about the same height as the window then and my wife was juggling my daughter in one hand and our brochures in the other), without thinking really, I took my coffee I was drinking and chucked it on the window – startling both the crew chief and my son! But I knew what would happen, the coffee rain off my SHIELDS® better than water on a Rain-X treated glass windshield, whisking away as if nothing was ever on there. The crew chief’s eyes got real big, then he grinned and bought the first SHIELDS® windshield for NASCAR! This happened before I got an ‘official’ Ford part number, but that is an entirely different story. That windshield ran at Atlanta a couple of weeks later. I still have that windshield hanging in my building with Robert Pressley’s autograph. The crew chief was so impressed before we left his shop to head to Robert Yates (wow, what a great customer “in the day!”) he phoned his brother and another buddy opening all the Ford shop doors – and even Joe Gibbs racing, telling them about ‘racingshields’ new glass material! That was the beginning of educating the true ‘stars’ of NASCAR in my book – the parts managers!!!

So, once we establish that when talking about a SHIELDS® windshield or window – it is simply a formed and post-coated piece of polycarbonate: Lexan®, Tuffak®, poly, plexi, Plexiglass®, ‘glass’, acrylic, plastic, or any other name we will ‘answer’ to – I can then proceed to educate them on why my SHIELDS® line of formed and SUPERCOATED™ polycarbonate are anything but simple, cheap, or ‘plastic’. SHIELDS® windshields are true performance and safety-enhancing parts for heavy equipment, boats, race cars, or anything else that truly wants the SHIELDS® advantage – and I have Ray Evernham to thank for ‘forcing’ me to learn to educate people on how a windshield should be looked at as a performance part, not just a ‘part’ of the vehicle – but that is another story.

Stories from a man doing business,

Brad

President – SHIELDS® Windshields