Graphic Overlays: Things to know when selecting materials and finish options. Which material is better: Polycarbonate or Polyester?

Graphic Overlays: Things to know when selecting materials and finish options.

Which material is better: Polycarbonate or Polyester?

Selecting the substrate for the graphic overlay is a key part of the product development process and there are several considerations to review prior to making the decision on which product to use. Will the graphic overlay be exposed to any of the following:

  • Exposure to any harmful chemicals
  • Prolonged exposure to UV
  • Exposure to salt water/residue
  • Abrasion resistance

  • Polycarbonate – is a tough, transparent engineering thermoplastic which offers very high impact strength and high modulus of elasticity. It also has a high heat deflection temperature and absorbs very little moisture. These properties, plus good low frequency and high voltage insulating characteristics, make polycarbonate an excellent choice for a wide variety of applications, polycarbonate is resistant to heat, moisture, and abrasion. If the environment is subject to chemicals, a hard coat should be used for protection. Polycarbonate is lower in cost than polyester. Most users prefer the look of polycarbonate overlays versus polyester. UltraTape has a number of different material constructions that are UL and CSA approved.
  • Polyester – is resilient material that offers superior resistance to chemicals and harsh environments. Polyester can be either a thermoplastic or thermoset plastic which can be used in applications with exposure to heat up to 245 Degrees Fahrenheit. Polyester is a tougher, more durable plastic than polycarbonate.  It is harder, and can withstand exposure to almost any commercially available solvent. For more challenging projects, polyester will be a better solution to ensure the part will be durable throughout the life cycle of the component.

What types of finish options are available?

The finish options you choose should add protection, increase durability, and enhance the usability of your Graphic Overlay.

  • Textured surfaces, embossing, debossing – While aesthetically pleasing, these options can directly improve the user experience.
  • Matte or glossy – A gloss material can enhance the overlay’s colors. A matte finish can reduce glare issues and doesn’t readily show fingerprints or minor scratches.
  • Chemical resistant surfaces – Will your Graphic Overlay be exposed to cleaning products or industrial chemicals? If so, add “chemical resistant surface” to your design specifications.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) hard coats – Both polycarbonate and polyester are susceptible to scratching. We recommend a UV hard-coat to increase the durability of your Graphic Overlay.

Contact UltraTape and determine which is best for your application.