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!

#3 Safety Glass

We cannot just leave the glass as “glass.” We hear a few forms of the word, one is getting closer to us, safety glass. People refer to our poly products as safety glass mainly because they know that our product is safer, it’s a natural combination of two words. Makes sense right? However, safety glass is its own thing. It is a glass that has added features to make it stronger. While many of these methods make the glass slightly stronger, it is still nowhere near as strong as polycarbonate.

#4 Getting Closer

Skid steer loader with polycarbonate door that replaced the glass

New Holland skid steer loader with a 1/2″ polycarbonate door.

We have been taking steps closer and closer to verbiage about polycarbonate! The next ones are my favorite because they are just different fun names for applications of polycarbonate! Names like demo door, duty door, and forestry door. These names are all regarding applications that need the highest standards. This work would include but not limited to forestry work, mulching, demolition, and any work that is over the head of the operator. These applications call for at least 1/2″ polycarbonate doors/windshields. Some may even be thicker and laminated doors (layers of doors put together). Most applications only need a 1/2″ polycarbonate door or windshield. It is important to know what your application is so you get the appropriate protection while working.

We go to many trade shows every year and I am always surprised at how many people do not know about polycarbonate! Then I remember the bubble I grew up in, not everyone grew up in a plastics factory! So when you are shopping around for a windshield or door replacement it may not seem like a big deal to use the lingo, plexiglass, safety glass, demo doors, etc. It is not a big deal, we answer those questions daily and are happy to clarify as needed. However, educating our customers and consumers, in general, is our goal with this. Education is a powerful tool when shopping, it can lead you to the best product faster and easier! The more you know, the simpler it all is.

– Your SHIELDS® team.


If you want to know some history behind our company, give this post a read!