From Around the World

From Around the World: Polycarbonate Architecture and Design

Sustainable building designs and environmentally responsible structures are increasing in visibility around the world. Architects and builders are looking for eco- solutions, recognizing and using polycarbonate as an innovative alternative to conventional building materials.

Offering a range of desirable qualities like high impact resistance, optical properties, and temperature and fire resistance, polycarbonate (PC) is a high performance thermoplastic material used in a broad spectrum of glazing applications.


In Moscow: The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art features a translucent gray double-polycarbonate façade. The polycarbonate façade filters daylight and aids in conserving heat while concealing a battery of technical equipment.

To learn more about this polycarbonate application, please click here to read the article by Anna Kats, “Cold-War Casual”. Metropolis Magazine 2015.


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DIY Tip of the Month

Store polycarbonate panels in a cool, dry place out of the direct exposure to sunlight. Storing panels in direct sunlight can cause the masking to bond to the panel surface, making it difficult to remove. To also prevent heat buildup, avoid covering the sheets with a dark tarp or some other type of heat absorbing material.


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What is a Polycarbonate Warranty?

Filtering Through the Confusion”

stephanie bitzanSince AmeriLux opened its doors over ten years ago, Stephanie Bitzan has been the friendly voice over the phone helping customers by answering technical questions and providing product information. Stephanie currently serves as a leader in the Customer Relations Department and has become a resident expert on LEXAN™ polycarbonate, its performance characteristics, and how the product compares to other ‘like’ products. She is often asked to explain, “What is in a polycarbonate warranty and what does the warranty cover?

I recently sat down with Stephanie and asked her some questions to help clarify and ‘clear up’ the confusion surrounding the industries multiwall polycarbonate warranties.

Q&A with Stephanie Bitzan:

Q:  Why is the yellowing index an important factor in a polycarbonate warranty?
A: Starting from the original material color, the warranty will specify how far from the original color the product will yellow over a period of time. Besides aesthetically unappealing, yellowing is the first visual sign of polycarbonate degradation.

Q: Why is understanding the loss in light transmission important in a polycarbonate warranty?
A: Polycarbonate warranties address how much light transmission the product will lose over a period of time. The quality of light, measured by the percentage of transmitted light, has a significant impact on the performance of a multiwall polycarbonate sheet.

Q: Why is AmeriLux able to offer a 20-Year Warranty on the LEXAN™ THERMOCLEAR™ 15 multiwall polycarbonate sheet?
A: SABIC, the manufacturer of the LEXAN™ brand, has conducted years of research and product testing, developing significant advancements in polycarbonate technology. Because of this extensive testing, AmeriLux has enhanced the warranty to reflect the product’s high performance characteristics.

Q: Is this 20-Year Warranty solely from the manufacturer?
A: No, the warranty is for an additional five years to the already established 15-year limited manufacturer warranty and is the sole liability of AmeriLux International.

Q: Is this 20-Year Warranty pro-rated?
A: From the date of purchase up to fifteen years, the extended warranty is not pro-rated.  Years 16-20, however, are pro-rated.

Q: What is the 20-Year Warranty schedule?
A: With a justified claim, 100% of the material will be replaced free of charge up to 15 years from original purchase date. Years 16-20 offer a material replacement proration schedule.

Q: What does the 20-Year warranty cover?
A: The extended warranty covers any claims on LEXAN™ THERMOCLEAR™ 15 multiwall polycarbonate products displaying a loss of more than 4% light transmission and a change in the yellowing index of more than 5 units.

Polycarbonate warranties can be confusing and they certainly do not offer an insurance policy for other costs associated with a warranty claim such as labor, disposal, and transportation costs associated with removing and replacing the materials. If you have any warranty-related questions, please call the AmeriLux Customer Relations Team at 920-336-9300.


LEXAN THERMOCLEAR is a trademark of SABIC.


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What is the meaning of Coefficient of Thermal Expansion?

Coefficient of Thermal Expansion or “CTE”

Every material has a different response to heat, which is characterized by its thermal expansion coefficient (CTE). The coefficient of thermal expansion measures how much a material expands per degree change in temperature compared to its original size. CTE is calculated by the change in length divided by the quantity of the length at room temperature, multiplied by the change of temperature.

Plastics tend to expand and contract anywhere from six to nine times more than metals. From a design perspective, understanding the relative expansion/contraction characteristics of materials is important for application success.


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Polycarbonate Hobby Greenhouse

“Designed for Years of Gardening Enjoyment”

4mm_clear_hobbygreenhouse_resPolycarbonate is a very durable greenhouse glazing material – perfect for the ultimate backyard greenhouse. A polycarbonate hobby greenhouse can be used to extend the growing season, overwinter plants, or even grow plants year round. This will, of course, depend on local climate conditions and whether or not the greenhouse is equipped with ventilation and heating. A gardener’s success is dependent on the greenhouse design and construction.

The W606 Walk-In Greenhouse is designed for the home hobbyist. It features high strength, extruded aluminum framing and CoverLite® brand polycarbonate structured sheet glazing panels. These are the same materials commercial greenhouses use in their construction!

W606 Product Specifications:
• 6’6″W x 7’4″L x 6’6″H (1970 x 2240 x 1970mm)
• One Window
• 4 ft High Side Walls
• 4 mm Multiwall Polycarbonate
• 2 ft Wide Sliding Door
• Galvanized Steel Base is Available

Interested in owning a hobby greenhouse? Call 888.602.4441 and ask for Jen Hewitt.


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Frequently Asked Polycarbonate Question

Q: Do I need to be concerned about thermal expansion and contraction when installing my polycarbonate panels?

A: Most Definitely! Polycarbonate panels will expand and contract due to changes in temperature. Polycarbonate expands in hot weather and contracts in cold. Figure about 1/32″ per foot for 100º of temperature change with the greatest amount of expansion and contraction occurring during the Spring and Fall months. Fastener holes must be oversized to allow for this thermal movement.

One option is to “pre-drill” pilot holes and then fasten the polycarbonate panels in place. The other option is to use a “one-step” screw. The reaming wings of a one-step screw create a hole slightly larger in diameter then the screw shaft, allowing for relative movement between the sheet and the support.

Failure to accommodate for the expansion and contraction of the polycarbonate material will result in the panel warping and/or cracking around the fastener.

Note: It is recommended to use a large neoprene bonded washer around the fixing point, do not overtighten, and whenever possible, locate holes at least ¼” from the edge of the panel.

AmeriLux offers a wide variety of accessories for installing polycarbonate panels including “one-step” screws. Please ask a member of our knowledgeable customer service team about our available fasteners when placing your next polycarbonate order.

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Museum Exhibit: Breaking Grounds

“Altering Perceptions with Translucent Polycarbonate”

haggerty_a_smCreated by bauenstudio (Mo Zell and Marc Roehrle, Milwaukee, WI), Breaking Grounds is part of the Marquette University Haggerty Museum of Art’s current exhibition Current Tendencies IV: Topography Transformed. This exhibition features six regional artists and considers the layered meaning of “site-specific,” a term used to describe art created for a particular location.

haggerty_d_smBreaking Grounds, a wood and polycarbonate structure, mirrors the existing pedestrian traffic pattern that cuts through the museum’s sculpture garden. This temporary installation invites viewers to consider the body’s position as one is moved from the ground into an elevated space among the tree canopy. Because of its transparency and reflectivity, the polycarbonate panels provided Mo and Marc with a material that responded to both the users and the surrounding context while maintaining their interest in elevating ‘off the shelf’ materials to the condition of art.

Having seen polycarbonate used in a number of unique applications, the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) reached out to AmeriLux International with an opportunity to feature the translucent material in their temporary installation at the Haggerty Art Museum. After a visit to AmeriLux’s facility in De Pere, WI, both sides were excited about an educational partnership. This project would provide students with an opportunity to work with and form an intimate knowledge of polycarbonate while leveraging the transparency of the material.

haggerty_g_smA total of twenty-eight polycarbonate panels were used in the Breaking Grounds installation – fourteen 20mm 5-wall X-structure LEXAN™ THERMOCLEAR™ Plus panels and fourteen 8mm twin wall LEXAN™ VEROLITE™ panels. The 8mm panels were fabricated onsite to specific lengths to accommodate the slope of the ramp and capped with anodized aluminum u-channels. The profiles provided an aesthetic contrast to the polycarbonate without diminishing the focus on the material. As light shifts from dawn to dusk, the reflective and translucent properties of the bronze-colored panels alter the space through their engagement with the trees, landscape, and skyscape. Click here to view a time lapse slideshow of the installation. (

“The layered polycarbonate offers transparency, translucency and reflection”, Mo said. “Depending on the sun, time of day, and position of the viewer even the single layer of 8mm polycarbonate takes on all these qualities. These changes are significant to why the material was selected. We want people to walk away from this installation rethinking the use of this material.”


The Haggerty Museum of Art is is located on the campus of Marquette University in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more information on the museum’s fourth installment of its Current Tendencies exhibition series, please visit