Dec 15, 2019 - 12:19 PM
The Short Answer:
We prefer to use acrylic sheet to manufacturer all of our display and test tanks. The critical issue is to remain below their operating max temperature of 70C at all times. It is easy to work with, but you must only use chemical welding, not any type of adhesive to build your tanks!
The Long Answer:
Poly(methyl) methacrylate (acrylic) and polycarbonate are both listed as "recommended" on our Materials Compatibility Guides (MGC), however please note that some brands of these materials can be subject to yellowing due to heat and age, and they have specific operating temperature that must be observed at all times for safety.
In all cases you want to chemically weld the pieces together using various solvents including Acetone and MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone). We use MEK as we find its faster and provides a stronger joint, however, your pieces must butt against each other perfectly to get a joint without bubbles in it. Also please make sure you only use MEK in areas with excellent ventilation for safety as it has very strong fumes!
Acrylic sheet is marketed under the names: Plexiglas®, Acrylite®, Lucite®, Polycast®, Optix® and Chemcast®
Usable temperature range: -34°C to 70°C / -30°F to 158°F
Polycarbonate sheet is marketed under the names: Lexan®, Makrolon®, Monogal®, Palsun®, Zelux®
Usable temperature range: -40C to 140C / -40F to 284F
We've done a lot testing with both acrylic and polycarbonate as we build tanks and containers with them for testing, demonstration units, and displays units for our customers. While both of these materials can be used to make demonstration tanks and displays, we have come to prefer the use of acrylic sheet whenever possible as it welds better with chemical solvents and its cheaper. Polycarbonate sheet is definitely more scratch resistant, stronger and has a higher operating temperature, but we find it more difficult to get a good chemical weld on these materials.
If you are going to use these materials for large tanks, you can use the same recommendations in terms of thickness and strength that the manufacturer provides for use with water at the operating temperature you specify. Our Dielectric Coolants are 20% lighter than water, so you'll have an added safety margin in your design.