No matter what product is being sold or what service provided, one common thread runs consistently through virtually every industry: safety. For many industries, the application of optical plastics is not something that automatically triggers an association with safety considerations. There are several sectors, however, that require special attention to be paid to the plastics they purchase and install.
Mirrors made for buses and trucks must conform to regulations regarding the driver’s field of view. This is especially true with school buses, where there are extensive regulations that require mirrors to be produced with vision fields that are adequate for the driver to see children entering or exiting the bus. The driver must be able to see near the bumpers, tires and any other place that is dangerous for a child before he or she can put the vehicle in motion. This requires collaboration between the manufacturer of the mirrors and the makers of the buses themselves.
Everything on airplanes — including its mirrors — must be lightweight. Although plastic has an advantage over glass because glass is much heavier, glass doesn’t burn and plastic does. This requires plastic manufacturers to deviate from the standard mirror-production process by using special fire-retardant polycarbonate.
When playground manufacturers buy polycarbonate domes, those domes must go through extensive weathering and impact testing. Plastic domes function as windows, and are often the only thing standing between a child at play and a potentially catastrophic fall from a significant height.
Bubbles and domes for skylights must pass a number of tests regarding impact strength. These tests are done to ensure that a person walking on a roof who steps or falls onto a skylight won’t fall through into the structure below.
Corrosion and weathering tests should be part of any manufacturer’s regular process for ensuring their plastics have the ability to withstand the applications for which they were designed. For some industries, however, even greater testing is needed to ensure the specifications of the mirror fall within that industry’s regulatory guidelines.