What is Polycarbonate and Why is it Used in Electrical Enclosures?

Polycarbonate, developed by GE in the 1960s and also known as Lexan® and Plexiglass®, is a manmade thermoplastic found in many everyday products.

Thermoplastics are plastics that become liquid at their melting points, which allows for the formation of manufactured goods through injection molding — a manufacturing process by which a molten material, in this case, liquid polycarbonate is fed into a mold cavity where it then cools and hardens.

The resulting polycarbonate product is very versatile because of its many unique characteristics. Polycarbonate is known for both its chemical and impact resistance, provided within a relatively lightweight product. Because of its many benefits, polycarbonate is used in many items designed for protection like vehicle headlights, bullet-resistant glass, phone cases, luggage, and safety glasses. Those same characteristics make it an excellent choice for use in electrical enclosures.

Polycarbonate enclosures — such as the Heartland® Series, are ideally suited for:

Rugged Applications Requiring Enclosure Strength

Polycarbonate enclosures are robust, heavy-duty, and durable. Because polycarbonate provides high-impact resistance and dimensional stability, enclosures molded from this material are popular and reliable in industrial and manufacturing applications within continuously demanding environments.

Questions to ask for selecting an enclosure

Applications With Likely Need For Impact Resistance

Although of lighter weight than other materials, polycarbonate can withstand impacts up to 900psi, as specified by UL 746c. Upon impact, metal enclosures are vulnerable to denting which, along with aesthetic concerns, can compromise the integrity of the seal that protects everything housed within the enclosure.


Applications Requiring Corrosion and Chemical Resistance

Polycarbonate enclosures provide good resistance to corrosive environments where acids or alkalines are present. Because of excellent corrosion resistance polycarbonate meets the demands of diverse industries from oil and gas to carwashes to marine environments.

Additionally, polycarbonate enclosures meet NEMA type 4X requirements, which specify an increased level of protection from corrosion.

Applications Where Installation And Labor Are Challenges

Polycarbonate, compared with metal enclosures is lightweight, making it easier and quicker to install; thereby being of value in overall cost reduction.

Applications Where UV Resistance Is Important

Because of natural resistance to UV degradation, polycarbonate enclosures can weather the passage of time even in harsh exterior applications. AttaBox polycarbonate enclosures carry an f1 rating for outdoor use per UL 746c.

OEM Polycarboante Enclosure AttaBox

Applications Where Ease Of Modifications Is Important

Polycarbonate enclosures are easy to modify using standard tools for cutting holes, windows, vents, and drains. This material cuts cleanly without dust and resists delamination.


Applications Using Wireless Technology

Polycarbonate enclosures are ideal for protecting wireless technology because they allow wireless and radio frequency signals to pass unobstructed through the enclosure.

This allows you to have the antennas inside of the enclosure.

Additionally, there is the option to block EMI/RFI frequencies if needed, giving you more flexibility than metal enclosures.

infographic showing the benefits of polycarbonate enclosures

For additional information about the benefits of polycarbonate enclosures, check out the AttaBox Heartland or Commander series.