What Are Side-by-Side Windshields Made of?
Side-by-side windshields are almost exclusively made of polycarbonate. This material is practically indestructible.
Now if you are interested in the technical side of how polycarbonate is made and its chemical composition, you can check out this website. They explain in-depth how polycarbonate is made and its chemical properties. For those of us who are not as technically inclined, we’ll give you the highlights.
Polycarbonate is a virtually unbreakable plastic. It is thermoplastic, which means it can be reheated and remolded many times without ruining the material. This allows it to be recycled and repaired easily. It is highly impact-resistant, making it a safe material for windshields. Polycarbonate needs to be hard coated to protect it from scratching, however.
Polycarbonate should be covered in a hard coating to protect it from scratching. Polycarbonate is very susceptible to scratching. Even drying non-coated polycarbonate with a dry rag can rub the dirt and dust into the polycarbonate. Polycarbonate can be coated to protect it from scratches and UV rays that can yellow the polycarbonate.
Weaknesses of Other Materials
Why choose polycarbonate? Surely other materials are cheaper. However, most other materials come with safety hazards or other concerns that make them less desirable. Polycarbonate is the industry standard material.
Glass is a decent option. Glass is brittle and tends to shatter into sharp pieces. Glass is common on some older UTV models, though. When purchasing a side-by-side, verify the materials used for the windshield. You may want to replace it. Glass is not prone to scratching, but it can be easily chipped or cracked.
Plexiglass seems similar to polycarbonate. However, plexiglass is acrylic plastic. It is brittle and shatters easily. When it does shatter, it shatters into sharp shards that are very dangerous for UTV riders. Plexiglass is 10x stronger than glass but is still too prone to breakage.
Polycarbonate can be hard-coated or non-coated. Uncoated polycarbonate is vulnerable to scratching. It can scratch just from washing. However, coated polycarbonate is 250x stronger than glass. It is used to reinforce glass to make bullet-proof glass. It is also used for the windshields of fighter jets.
What Else Is Polycarbonate Used For?
Polycarbonate is used for many products that require a lightweight, shatter-resistant, and transparent material. These products may include glasses, bullet-proof glass, fighter jet windshields, NASCAR windshields, and of course, UTV windshields. Knowing that your windshield is made out of the same material as these products that are under extreme stress should give you great peace of mind.