Glass used to be the main finishing for traditional lamps and luminaires. While new lighting technologies may still use glass as a finish, there is a wide range of LED products that now use Polycarbonate and Acrylic Lenses. Since LEDs produce less heat an no infrared (IR) radiation, the versatility of these materials allows for a diversity of designs and applications. 

Polycarbonate and Acrylic are thermoplastics that can be re-melted from solid states and used in injection or casting processes. With excellent optical qualities, these light weight thermoplastics have great impact resistance and high temperature performance.

When should you choose glass or polycarbonate/acrylic lenses?

While glass is often chosen for stability, plastic provides peace of mind. If you work in the food industry, glass lamps are not an option, as food safety regulations require NSF-listed shatterproof coatings.  It then comes down to the environment and resistance required for your application and project. Even if glass lamps and tubes were priced to match lower costs of thermoplastic products, many are attracted to plastics’ low breakage feature. However, if you are looking for high power fixtures, they are usually built with a glass finish because for better heat dissipation.

If you need help weighing the options, talk to a lighting specialist!