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Thread: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

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    Default P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    I'm building my first P10 Matrix and need to pick up something to protect the front. I went to Home Depot and they have a 4x8 sheet of Plexiglass/Acrylic for $100 and Lexan for $175. Is the Lexan worth the premium?
    Last edited by kblagg; 12-26-2016 at 02:52 PM.

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    I would look for a plastics supply house. if one is available in your area. HD charges a huge premium for their "plastic" compared to what the supply houses charge. Personally, I did mine in glass which was really cheap and worked well.

    However, to answer your question, Acrylic is better than plain plexiglass as it resists scratches better. Lexan is better than both of them because it is more pliable and even more scratch resistant. I also think it is more resistant to UV exposure adn keeps it's clarity longer.

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    Quote Originally Posted by dsteward View Post
    I would look for a plastics supply house. if one is available in your area. HD charges a huge premium for their "plastic"...
    $100 is expensive for 4' x 8' acrylic?? Praytell... where do you buy yours?

    I paid $130 at Tap Plastics for 1/4 of that size.
    2017: 33069 pixels, 24 E682's. 50 A/C with 2 LOR
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    ...
    2011: 64 A/C channels with 5 LOR

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    For what it's worth, I opted for glass on my sign. It's flatter, more optically transparent and easier to maintain over time. Glass doesn't cloud or get UV fatigue over time. I even find it easier to cut and fit.


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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    Quote Originally Posted by dsteward View Post
    I would look for a plastics supply house. if one is available in your area. HD charges a huge premium for their "plastic" compared to what the supply houses charge. Personally, I did mine in glass which was really cheap and worked well.

    However, to answer your question, Acrylic is better than plain plexiglass as it resists scratches better. Lexan is better than both of them because it is more pliable and even more scratch resistant. I also think it is more resistant to UV exposure adn keeps it's clarity longer.
    Lexan is MORE likely to scratch over acrylic.....maybe twice as likely. Only use lexan to protect against rock throwers
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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    Quote Originally Posted by jchuchla View Post
    For what it's worth, I opted for glass on my sign. It's flatter, more optically transparent and easier to maintain over time. Glass doesn't cloud or get UV fatigue over time. I even find it easier to cut and fit.


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    how does it hold up to kids throwing rocks at it?

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    Polycarbonate (Lexan is a brand name) is about 100 times stronger than Acrylic. Polycarbonate scratches very easily compared to acrylic, but because it's very strong it's what bullet proof windows are made of.

    Both are susceptible to UV damage unless coated, which very often hazes the material slightly so it's not as clear as its original state.

    Glass, as we all know is easily broken but there is remedy for that. Safety glass, like found in industrial and school doors and windows, vehicle windshields, and things where safety is paramount, is a great alternative and it can be cut by a professional with a variety of tools including a waterjet. Find a local glass company and see what they would charge you for a given size. You may find it to be a reasonable alternative to polycarbonate.

    I used to use Lexan for race car windshields and they were great from a safety point of view - stones, rocks and other debris being kicked up by the car in front of me never came through. But, they got scratched up very quickly by dust and dirt and were only useful to us for a couple races.

    The lenses of your new-ish car headlights are probably polycarbonate. I'm sure you've seen 10-12 year old cars with very dull headlights. You can polish lexan to almost clear with a buffer wheel and ordinary toothpaste, and you can also heat polish it with a heat gun with some practice. I'm fairly sure both can be done to acrylic as well but I've never tried.

    I'm building a LCD-based digital sign and I've decided to use safety glass because I think it's a good balance between safety and clarity.

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    Quote Originally Posted by jchuchla View Post
    For what it's worth, I opted for glass on my sign. It's flatter, more optically transparent and easier to maintain over time. Glass doesn't cloud or get UV fatigue over time. I even find it easier to cut and fit
    I do not see glass as a better option. Not flatter or more transparent than acrylic. Lexan does cloud and yellow, but acrylic has been good for me. I used in my son's shed window, and 4 years later it is still clear. Most picture frames now use acrylic over glass. In larger sizes, like my 12 panel P10, glass was twice the price, thicker and heavier. Cutting 16th inch off acrylic on a table saw is easier than grinding the glass off. So fitting acrylic is simple

    Just sharing my experiences so others can make their best choice.
    Last edited by mrGrumpy; 12-28-2016 at 12:21 AM.
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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    I used clear vinyl, like a shower curtain. Very simple to use, very cheap. I purchased at a farm supply, it is thicker than a shower curtain.

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    Default Re: P10 Matrix Enclosure: Acrylic vs Lexan

    I didn't specify earlier (didn't occur to me that someone would use something other than ordinary glass) I used ordinary 1/8" plate glass. The kind you can get for windows at any hardware store. I paid something like $11 for the 24x36 sheet (which I cut down to 19x30) The same size in acrylic was something like $30 and lexan was $40. Cutting ordinary glass is simple. Score and snap. Laminated or reinforced glass is a different story. Not a DIY project for most people.
    Tempered glass needs to be cut before tempering. So that's a completely different ballgame. You almost have to order it made to size. I do have a glass tempering shop not far from me and I've had a few things done over the years. I've always been able to work a good deal with them so long as I wasn't in a hurry. If I just gave them the piece I needed tempered, they'd find a batch sometime within the next week where they could fit it in the oven with another order. They'd charge something like $10 to do it. That would be very good for this, but I didn't think it was necessary

    The way I look at it, is that ordinary plate glass is the same stuff used for my windows and the windows in every other house around me. If I'm not worried about safety there, why would I be for my sign. I did try using ordinary acrylic as a sample first. I didn't like it mostly because it looked like it has a glow when backlit. Acrylic (as well as polycarb and most plastics) has a lot of internal refraction. This is what gives it that glow when light passes thru it. You don't get that with glass. This effect gets greatly magnified as it gets dirty and those micro scratches on it. Acrylic is a perfect projection material. (not necessarily the ordinary type) The same things that make it less than optimal for transmission, make it better as a projection surface.
    That curvy bowing look that flexes with the wind also bothers me. There's a reason that every LCD TV and smartphone screen is a glass based surface. It's cost effective, perfectly flat and durable. many TVs and some smartphones have outer surfaces that are plastic of some sort to reduce glare and reflection, or otherwise optimize viewing angles. But that film is generally a highly engineered material designed for the purpose, and is always bonded to a glass substrate for flatness. (there's gotta be a better word for that than flatness) The rigid flatness of glass also allows me to pitch the sign slightly downward so that there's no viewable reflection of adjacent lights to the viewers in the viewing zone. Thus eliminating the need to provide an AR treatment in my application.
    But it totally depends what you're going for. Both acrylic and polycarbonate will get the job done. So if they're more readily available or cheaper, and you don't mind the minor lost in optical quality, they're fine. With a pixel pitch as big as a P10, it probably wouldn't even be noticeable. I'd argue that neither is that much safer than glass when it's broken. I've cut myself on all of them. But if rocks and snowballs are a problem, you may prefer polycarbonate. It'll start to look bad as it gets abused, but it will keep the seal to protect your electronics inside. Polycarbonate takes impact well because it flexes to absorb it. So if you're trying to stop a rock, make sure you leave a good buffer zone inside the enclosure between the sheet of lexan and the thing you're protecting to allow for that flex. the bigger the sheet, the more deflection you'll get at the center. Acrylic's impact durability is much less than polycarbonate but greater than glass. They each have their benefits, you'd have to weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which fits best for you.

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