It’s fair to say that manufacturers of playground equipment are generally looking for durability and long-lasting functionality, to keep kids safe and parents happy. One of the important decisions to be made surrounds the ordering of those clear plastic domes that kids just love to peer out of. What are the key considerations?

Worry Less About the Brand

Lexan™ is a brand name of polycarbonate now owned by SABIC. Because of the dominance of the former Lexan™ supplier, General Electric, many people equate polycarbonate with Lexan™ the same way many people refer to tissues as “Kleenex” or cola soft drinks as “Coke.” In reality, the quality, composition and manufacturing method of the polycarbonate is far more important than the name stamped on the packaging.

UV Protection: What Are The Options?

Since polycarbonate is not inherently UV-stable, various manufacturers provide different UV-protected versions. For most applications, the basic UV stabilizer compounded through the bulk of the polycarbonate sheet will do. But to protect against the wear and tear, excessive yellowing, sunlight, weather and foot traffic associated with outdoor playground applications, it’s sometimes wise to invest in a higher level of UV protection. For playground equipment manufacturers, there are two options for upgrading UV protection on polycarbonate domes:

UV-1 Side Protected Polycarbonate

  • Widely available and stocked by most industrial sheet distributors
  • Can get suppliers to run sheets of custom size and thickness
  • Perfectly suitable if the part is only exposed to the sun on one side

UV-2 Side Protected Polycarbonate

  • Unusual request — generally not stocked anywhere
  • Requires enormous purchases of 10 tons or more for suppliers to run
  • Requires long lead time for orders
  • Only really useful when a part is going to receive direct sunlight from both sides

Replex Plastics works with several different suppliers, including Palram, Bayer and SABIC, who all operate in the same sphere, and all offer sheets in standard-grade, UV-1 side and UV-2 side. Replex does manage the supply of UV-2 protected polycarbonate for some clients who want the broadest protection against the elements, despite the above-mentioned challenges in ordering this unique product.

When it comes to polycarbonate domes, it’s not helpful to focus on the brand name to the neglect of more important considerations related to weather resistance. You’ll make the best decision if you focus your attention on UV protection, durability and quality.