Plexiglass is a versatile material that’s used for a wide range of different products, from protective barriers in retail and restaurants to medical equipment like incubators. Since plexiglass can be used for protection, many people wonder whether this plastic compound is bulletproof. What’s the truth of the matter?
Plexiglass is not technically bulletproof, but layering sheets together and reinforcing it with other materials can help make it fairly bullet resistant. Other materials that are used for bulletproofing include laminated glass, tempered glass, and polycarbonate.
So, if you’re planning to use plexiglass to stop a bullet, you may want to think twice. Let’s take a closer look at the properties of plexiglass, as well as how to make it more bulletproof and whether it can shatter.
How Is Plexiglass Made?
Plexiglass is made through a process called polymerization. This involves combining a liquid monomer, such as methyl methacrylate, with a catalyst and an initiator, and then heating the mixture to trigger a chemical reaction.
The resulting polymer is a clear, hard, and durable plastic that can be shaped and molded into different forms. Once the polymerization process is complete, the plexiglass can be cast into sheets or other shapes, and it can be cut, drilled, and polished to meet different needs, making it a very flexible material.
How Thick Does Plexiglass Need to Be to Stop a Bullet?
The thickness of plexiglass required to stop a bullet depends on a few things including the type of bullet, the velocity of the bullet, and the angle at which the bullet hits the plexiglass. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and there are no guarantees if you’re looking for a bulletproof material.
However, in general, it takes a relatively thick piece of plexiglass to stop a bullet — at least an inch or more.
For higher caliber bullets like the ones that may come from a rifle, the plexiglass would need to be even thicker. It’s also worth noting that plexiglass can shatter or deform upon impact, even if it’s thick enough to stop a bullet. Other measures, such as a protective film or additional layers of material, may be necessary to prevent injury.
Does Plexiglass Shatter?
Plexiglass is generally more shatter resistant than glass, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to shatter it at all — and you still need to take care with it.
Whether plexiglass will shatter generally depends on the impact, the thickness of the plexiglass, and the temperature at the time it’s struck by something. If the plexiglass is hot, it’s more likely to shatter on the impact.
To help prevent plexiglass from shattering, you should handle it with care and avoid exposing it to excessive stress or temperature changes. Plexiglass can also be treated with coatings or laminates that can help to improve its impact resistance and prevent it from shattering or cracking upon impact.
Are Plexiglass Windows Bulletproof?
Plexiglass windows can be made to be somewhat bulletproof, but it depends on the specific application and the level of protection required. The thickness and composition of the plexiglass, as well as any additional layers or coatings, will determine the level of bullet resistance, and it’s very unlikely the plexiglass will be entirely bulletproof.
Bullet-resistant plexiglass is often made by layering multiple sheets of plexiglass together with polycarbonate or other materials to create a composite material that can withstand bullet impacts.
The number of layers can be customized to meet the requested bulletproof requirements, though it’s usually with the understanding that there is still a risk of a bullet getting through in some cases.
If bulletproof plexiglass is ever used in an official capacity, it’s usually with other measures in place to reinforce it further.
What’s the Best Bulletproof Glass?
When deciding on the best bulletproof glass option, there are a few things to take into account, such as the level of visibility required (for example, if it’s on a mask). There are a few forms of bulletproof glass that can be used:
Laminated glass is made by sandwiching a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between two or more sheets of glass. This helps to absorb the impact of a bullet and prevent the glass from shattering.
Laminated glass is often used in buildings and vehicles because it can provide a high level of protection against bullets, though the visibility often isn’t great.
Tempered glass is made by heating glass to a high temperature and then rapidly cooling it. This process makes the glass stronger and more impact-resistant than regular glass, but it also makes it more prone to shattering upon impact. It’s not as good as laminated glass for bullet protection.
Polycarbonate is a type of plastic that’s lightweight and impact resistant. It can be layered to create bulletproof glass and is often used in security applications where weight is a concern, such as in bulletproof shields or helmets. Click here to read our guide comparing plexiglass and polycarbonate.
Lastly, plexiglass is still an option if it’s layered and reinforced with something other than the base material.