Polycarbonate is used for a huge variety of products, from CDs and scuba masks to bulletproof glass and riot gear. This is due to PC's desirable physical properties. PC is a tricky filament to print with but when you get it right PC can produce some truly excellent products.
PC is a polymer that contains carbonate groups that give it it's balanced properties. PC is very durable and impact resistance. It is also scratch resistant which is somewhat unusual for impact resistant materials. Unlike Acrylic or Plexi-Glass, PC is less prone to shattering or cracking and will bend instead when subjected to high loads.
PC demonstrates excellent thermal stability, it has a glass melting temperature of around 150°C. Whilst this makes it excellent for products that need to withstand high heat it also means that 3D printing with PC requires very high temperatures. Anywhere between 250°C to 290°C or more will be required for 3D printing with PC. PC is also very high warp and will certainly need a heated print bed of around 110°C and a closed chamber for larger prints.
As well as the high print temperature, PC also requires excellent print surface adhesion due to the likelihood of warping. A good print plate is the best option as well as a slow printing temperature (around 20mm/second). PC is very hygroscopic and must be stored very well to avoid bubbling and potentially damaging your printer. Read our blog article about how to store 3D printing filaments. PC is a strong producer of ultrafine particles, even more so than ABS. Ensure that you are printing in a very well ventilated area to avoid inhalation.
Despite its drawbacks, once settings have been optimised for 3D printing with PC then it will produce some fantastic, extremely strong products and will greatly expand what you can do with your 3D printer! Here at Filaments.directory you can select the right PC filament using our constantly updated list of suppliers and our comprehensive search tool!