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What polymer should I use instead of polycarbonate

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1
    The polymer is to be used for rodent housing (cage).

    I need to find a polymer which has the properties shown below.


    Before I go into the specification required, I have researched and have come up with polycarbonate.
    As it has high impact strength, is 200x stronger than glass, and is cheaper. This polymer has many more features that are brilliant.

    However there are problems with this material that I would like to overcome.
    How long the material will stay clear when subdued to the following;
    1. Hot water (50c)
    2. Animal cleaning agents
    3. Fairy liquid
    4. Manual cleaning with sponge/cloth
    5. Scratches created by the rodent

    Basically all the operations/chemicals above must not create any scratches or cause the polymer to fog up until a long time; it must stay clear as possible. White scratches are more of a problem than the depth of the scratch.

    I am unclear on the information provided but I believe polycarbonate is not designed to stay clear under these circumstances.
    The material would be cleaned at least once a week

    One of the most aspects of not using polycarbonate is the price that it is at.
    The material has a huge impact on final price of the product. As polycarbonate is quite expensive compared to other polymers, it makes the total cost of the product high, therefore customers will have to pay a higher price than the average price of a cage. (Even if the material is better)

    These are the properties the polymer requires;

    [Clear] As transparent as possible, lets in 100% light (If possible)
    High Scratch Resistant
    Easy to clean, with hot water, mild cleaning agents and not get scratched or change in the light coming through the polymer, until a long time.
    Safe for human and animal contact
    Durable, the material will last long
    Strong and tough i.e. if dropped from a table it will not crack or cause any large imperfections on the surface.
    Very malleable, easy to machine, mould
    Not too brittle

    Sorry for the long explanation I’m a college student.
    Thanks for any help it will be much appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2010 #2
    What materials are used in commercially available models? The small aquarium I have is acrylic.
  4. Jul 8, 2010 #3
    Yes majority of the current designs use acrylic however this material is the reason/problem why i want to design my own cage using different material

    Advantage over polycarbonate
    Even though acrylic is cheaper than polycarbonate or other materials.

    Some disadvantages of acrylic

    It is easily cracked through delivery (even when well packaged adding extra costs for this protection).
    If mishandled whilst cleaning the cage i.e. dropped it can easily crack too, this may happen to someone cleaning the cage.
    Gets scratched by majority of objects (the material is not very hard)

    The problem with the current cages are;
    Difficult to clean due to complex shapes/heaviness as a result of this the cage becomes difficult to see inside due to cleaning (manual, cleaning agents etc...)
    Therefore it is difficult for people and the owner to see inside.

    The reason i posted this is to find if there were any similar types of polymers that cost less than polycarbonate as this is the only disadvantage polycarbonate really has. The material can have lower valued features from the polycarbonate i.e. less impact strength.

    The main aspect that the material must have is to remain clear as long as possible when being cleaned by us and scratched by the rodent,
    Not easily damaged whilst being handled by people (mainly the surface, no white marks).
    Good strength/ very good hardness
    Chemically resistant to mild cleaning agents
    The rest are written the first post

    Thanks again for any help
  5. Aug 1, 2010 #4


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    Science Advisor

    Thick glass? Put in some rubber or silicone shock absorber strips, and it could probably survive a fall or few.
  6. Aug 1, 2010 #5
    That was the first thing that came to mind however glass is has high manufacturing costs and delivery due to its heaviness.
    The size is approx 600mm x 400mm x 580mm, (LxWxH 2 floors) and if it was made out of thick glass it would be so heavy i think an adult would just about be able to pick it up let alone a child. (20kg)
    Im lookn at around 5kg for weight which is still heavy for a child however two children at both ends should be able to manage.

    Im talking to various plastic companies so the product is still in the research/design stage

    Thanks for the suggestion
  7. Aug 1, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think lexan™/Polycarbonate is going to be your best bet.
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