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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone used an Acrylic windshield long term? What are the pros and cons of Polycarbonate over Acrylic in normal use scenarios?

Interested in DIY bespoke windshield to a custom cage and considering the material options I can find to fit my needs.

How much does hardcoat help resist scratching?

Use case is projected to be rarely, only when the weather is very inclement, heavy rain, woods riding in dense forest. Probably will need to cope with splashes, puddles ect. , possibly small rocks from thrown gravel of group members ahead rarely. Looking for an almost inexpensive disposable solution to try out and can also be easily replaced.

Sounds like acrylic is less scratch susceptible, but polycarbonate will do far better with impact resistance?

Has anyone used a acrylic window and what was your experience with that material? Anyone had both materials and could offer some advice?

Typically use goggles, but looking to try a full windshield and see how it works out for me, and not sure glass is the best choice for me, but looking into that option as well if I can find a good way to maximize the full viewing area.
 

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I've used both acrylic and polycarbonate for windows, safety shields, cases, and a variety of other things. The pros of acrylic are it's more scratch resistant and has a bit more clarity than poly but the fact that it's easier to crack and shatter offsets its attributes for many uses where impact or vibration may cause it to fail. I wouldn't use it for a window or windshield on a vehicle. But I have made windows and windshields out of poly and it works great for that. And scratches are easily removed with aviation plastic polish. Just be sure to wipe the direction that the wind flows over the glass and never in a circular pattern.
 

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I've used both acrylic and polycarbonate for windows, safety shields, cases, and a variety of other things. The pros of acrylic are it's more scratch resistant and has a bit more clarity than poly but the fact that it's easier to crack and shatter offsets its attributes for many uses where impact or vibration may cause it to fail. I wouldn't use it for a window or windshield on a vehicle. But I have made windows and windshields out of poly and it works great for that. And scratches are easily removed with aviation plastic polish. Just be sure to wipe the direction that the wind flows over the glass and never in a circular pattern.
Whatever racing it is you're into you know you have to change the windshields fairly periodically. Especially under lights. Unless you use tear offs.

Any plastic window is a throw away item eventually imo.

I wouldn't mind if these things were cheaper. But they are so expensive I just can't justify them.
 

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You may be surprised how long a plastic windshield will last. Virtually every aircraft uses plastic windscreens and windows. They may last for decades if taken care of. And most aircraft sit outside in the elements including dust storms. But if you don't know how to properly clean them you can ruin them in a matter of seconds.
 

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You may be surprised how long a plastic windshield will last. Virtually every aircraft uses plastic windscreens and windows. They may last for decades if taken care of. And most aircraft sit outside in the elements including dust storms. But if you don't know how to properly clean them you can ruin them in a matter of seconds.
Thats the problem when offroad. Not so easy to clean properly in the middle of nowhere.
 

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Thats the problem when offroad. Not so easy to clean properly in the middle of nowhere.
My plastic can-am windshield is pretty much junk after its' 1st muddy winter. I take responsibility due to the way I "cleaned" it in the woods with a squeegee...I really didn't realize it would scratch so bad, so easily. But as SideXEach said cleaning it properly off road is not easy and IMO not practical. Waste of money. I have the aircraft window scratch removal kit which I have tested on the windows in the flight simulators I work on and it works on basic poly but I can't imagine it will be the worth the amount of effort it will take to resurrect my windshield...but we'll see.
 

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Well cpap, you got your work cut out for you. But if you ever want to try plastic again, here's the world's best cleaner & polish (at least the best I've found in four-decades of flying). Use it on your helmet face shields too. It will take out small scratches but not the deep ones. NEVER use a circular motion cleaning plastic windows, make the strokes the same direction as the wind goes over the windshield.

Want to get rid of bugs and other stuck on debris -- use Pledge furniture polish. Works on painted surfaces too. Flying search & rescue at low altitude in the mountains during the summer months and you hit thousands of bugs. Pledge makes an impossible job of cleaning bugs off windscreens and leading edges a piece of cake.

Good luck.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Well cpap, you got your work cut out for you. But if you ever want to try plastic again, here's the world's best cleaner & polish (at least the best I've found in four-decades of flying). Use it on your helmet face shields too. It will take out small scratches but not the deep ones. NEVER use a circular motion cleaning plastic windows, make the strokes the same direction as the wind goes over the windshield.

Want to get rid of bugs and other stuck on debris -- use Pledge furniture polish. Works on painted surfaces too. Flying search & rescue at low altitude in the mountains during the summer months and you hit thousands of bugs. Pledge makes an impossible job of cleaning bugs off windscreens and leading edges a piece of cake.

Good luck.

Thank You NAZ, would you have any experience with the various remedies people use to cope with plastic windscreens negative attributes?
I have read people using all kinds of materials to help mitigate dust attracted to the plastic (assumption is static electricity from the microscopic surface interacting with air as it passes by?) as well as help dissuade water droplets from sticking to the material like rainX for plastic or "Slipstreamer" , even waxing the surface...

I have read that Pledge you mention might actually do both those fairly proficiently? But may compromise the optical clarity with some distortion.

I understand there are several cons to utilizing plastic, but for the planned little use and environment, I think it will be the best compromise, at least until I find out if it will be something I would like to move forward with.

Our local glass people are more than a bit high on product, and don't care for the limited viewing of all the glass windshields I have found that might even be compatible with my non stock profiled cage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've used both acrylic and polycarbonate for windows, safety shields, cases, and a variety of other things. The pros of acrylic are it's more scratch resistant and has a bit more clarity than poly but the fact that it's easier to crack and shatter offsets its attributes for many uses where impact or vibration may cause it to fail. I wouldn't use it for a window or windshield on a vehicle. But I have made windows and windshields out of poly and it works great for that. And scratches are easily removed with aviation plastic polish. Just be sure to wipe the direction that the wind flows over the glass and never in a circular pattern.
Even if purely empirical, what would you say the percentage of scratch resistance acrylic has over polycarbonate?

I have quad catchers as a rear reinforcement to the windscreen, so would feel better about utilizing acrylic just as a test, even if it is seemingly more brittle and prone to cracking.

I dont anticipate any "hard" or even moderate impacts, but small twig like brush wiping past at low speed is unavoidable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My plastic can-am windshield is pretty much junk after its' 1st muddy winter. I take responsibility due to the way I "cleaned" it in the woods with a squeegee...I really didn't realize it would scratch so bad, so easily. But as SideXEach said cleaning it properly off road is not easy and IMO not practical. Waste of money. I have the aircraft window scratch removal kit which I have tested on the windows in the flight simulators I work on and it works on basic poly but I can't imagine it will be the worth the amount of effort it will take to resurrect my windshield...but we'll see.
I was considering purchasing a window washer fluid tank and using that as a quick way to wash/rinse any splatter away directed down over the windscreen at high pressure.

Have not seen a lot of info out there how to cope with cleaning on trail really other than warnings to be careful
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Also, I am very curious, might they make a applicate film that would be applied over a semi rigid surface like Plexiglas to help with water and dust, maybe even scratching or being able to run a wiper over it?

Looking around I have not seen anything like that, but they make glass screen covers that seem like they might be a reasonable alternative if they could be sourced in the sizes needed, considering you can get something the size of a iPad for a few dollars and are relatively flexible and shatter resistant...
 

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I don't use plastic off-road cuz of the dust. Dust is attracted to the plastic but even glass windshields get coated with it. I have tried a couple anti-static products in the distant past. Don't remember which ones but they were a failure. NASCAR uses plastic windshields and apply tear-offs to them. Just like the tear-offs for your face shield but bigger. That could be an option for mud, bugs, and debris on the outer side but not practical on the inner side. I think what you'll find is that the dust coats the inside of the windshield more than the outer surface.

I really can't guestimate the difference in scratch resistance between acrylic and poly but it's different. And the propensity of acrylic to shatter is also real and will be something to deal with. You might want to go thicker with acrylic. I used 1/8" poly on my drag car -- could never get away with that in acrylic. If you're cutting your own, heres a trick to clean up the edges. Use one of those cheapo-depot butane torches and carefully heat the rough edges and it will melt to a smooth finish. Go too much and you will discolor it so practice on scraps. Try to keep the flame from touching the plastic. In my previous life I used these plastics quite a bit fabricating guards and shields for manufacturing equipment.
 

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Depends what you are driving in. If you are in wet muddy conditions and or clay consistency, that stuff will dry to like a cement.

In the desert a windshield would last far longer.

Where I live you can destroy it within hours.

Dirt in some areas is far more abrasive than others. Some is far more sticky.

The only way to get it off is with gentle running water. And if you're 50 miles into the middle of nowhere you're screwed unless you carry 20 gallons of water and a pump.

If you attemp to clean that kind of stuff, the window is damaged on the first day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Depends what you are driving in. If you are in wet muddy conditions and or clay consistency, that stuff will dry to like a cement.

In the desert a windshield would last far longer.

Where I live you can destroy it within hours.

Dirt in some areas is far more abrasive than others. Some is far more sticky.

The only way to get it off is with gentle running water. And if you're 50 miles into the middle of nowhere you're screwed unless you carry 20 gallons of water and a pump.

If you attemp to clean that kind of stuff, the window is damaged on the first day.
I have a high pressure/volume 12V pump I am thinking might be good hardware to pair with the wind screen.
I was thinking a washer tank with standard squirters for on the trail "need right now", and a pickup line to drop into creeks and ponds which are plentiful even in the summer.

I understand there is Manny associated hurtles with a plastic windscreen, but going to try it and see if I can cope with the drawbacks, I am capable of making many unorthodox ideas work for me with attentiveness, so hope this may work out for me as well knowing the pitfalls and working within the abilities of the material. fortunately its more of a test, and planing on only using it when its unreasonable otherwise.
 

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Well cpap, you got your work cut out for you. But if you ever want to try plastic again, here's the world's best cleaner & polish (at least the best I've found in four-decades of flying). Use it on your helmet face shields too. It will take out small scratches but not the deep ones. NEVER use a circular motion cleaning plastic windows, make the strokes the same direction as the wind goes over the windshield.

Want to get rid of bugs and other stuck on debris -- use Pledge furniture polish. Works on painted surfaces too. Flying search & rescue at low altitude in the mountains during the summer months and you hit thousands of bugs. Pledge makes an impossible job of cleaning bugs off windscreens and leading edges a piece of cake.

Good luck.

Thanks for the info. That cleaner seems like it would be worth trying on the windows on our simulators; we replace lots of them due to minor scratches. They're made from cheap plastic. And I might just try it on my goggle lenses... I'm considering biting the bullet and buying a glass, vented fold down windshield for my SXS.
 
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