From Plastics Wiki, free encyclopedia
LEXANÂ® is a registered trademark for General Electric Company's brand of highly-durable polycarbonate resin thermoplastic intended to replace glass where strength justifies its cost. It is made up of chains of Bisphenol A alternating with phosgene, or carbonyl chloride. The trademark holder promotes the style "LEXAN", but both "Lexan" and "lexan" are commonly used (at least outside the context of sales literature), without implying claims about its source.
Lexan was discovered in 1953 by GE chemist Dr. Daniel Fox, while working on a wire coating. Dr. Hermann Schnell of Bayer in Germany applied for a U.S. patent on a virtually identical molecule in the same year that GE filed for a patent, 1955, but Dr. Fox is generally credited with the discovery.
Lexan is similar to polymethyl methacrylate (Plexiglas/Lucite/Perspex) — commonly described as Acrylic — in appearance, but is far more durable, often to the point of being described as "bulletproof" (depending on the thickness of the sample and the type of weapon used). Lexan is typically used in the aerospace industry for items such as aircraft canopies, windscreens and other windows, but can often be found in household items, such as bottles, compact discs, and DVDs. It is also one of the most common products used to make Bullet-resistant glass.
Lexan is manufactured by GE Plastics, a unit of General Electric. Today it is manufactured at several GE plants around the world, the largest being in Mt. Vernon, Indiana; Cartagena, Spain; and Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands.
Perhaps the most visible Lexan consumer product is the Apple Computer iBook and the iPod; the gleaming white plastic is GE Lexan. It also is used by Nalgene for their 1-liter wide-mouthed water bottle, popular with hikers and mountaineers. Nalgene participates in Lexan's publicity.
Lexan was also used for the housings of Loran audio cassettes, which was chosen due to Lexan's high resistance to warping & melting from heat, a common problem with audio cassettes being stored in the interiors of automobiles during hot summer days. Blank Loran cassettes were marketed as an ideal choice for automotive listening.
Lexan also is the brand name for polycarbonate sheet in thicknesses from 0.75 mm (0.03") to 12 mm (0.48"). Applications are mainly in three domains — building (glazing and domes), industry (machine protection and fabricated parts) and communication and signage.
For similar products offered by other companies, see polycarbonates.
Lexan in popular culture
Lexan is also used in racing cars to replace heavier (and breakable) glass windshields and windows.