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Old 09-24-2012, 06:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cutting polycarbonate skylight panels?

I've ordered a couple 12' sections of U panel polycarbonate skylight panel, I want to cut it into 4' sections and install these pieces on 2 of my walls to bring some light into my shop during the day. What's the proper way to cut this stuff? My roofing guys said it fractures and they typically don't like to cut it unless they have to. I plan to start throwing metal on the walls next weekend so I need to know how to cut this stuff without destroying it. I've cut the metal panel with a circular saw and reversed blade but that seems like it would kill the plastic panels.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Just got some 3/16" cut for my tow motor roof. They used a table saw and believe me they did not take it easy. Looked like it had a thin kerf carbide tip blade on it.

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Old 09-24-2012, 06:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have cut a lot of diff plastics with an abrasive blade, it does melt/leave a wide cut so there is some waste.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We cut vinyl siding with a circular saw but we ran the carbide blade backwards so it wouldnt chip, crack, etc.

I have seen a few plastic designated circ blades in our book so I know they r out there.

EDIT: I remember our cabinet installers putting the blue tape over the line they were cutting and would cut on top of it to prevent chipping. I would tape both sides if possible
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Maybe power shears?
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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We cut new windows for our CNCs every couple of years from bigger lexan stock. A table saw and 2 guys is what it takes. If you go that route make sure you wear some goggles.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd check with the manufacturer of the panels to see what their recommendations are.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Seems like the two most recommended rules are:

Keep the plastic protective layer on while cutting, or add your own (tuck tape, packing tape, etc).

and

Use tooling that is both sharp and high teeth count.



First link google shows is this:



Lexan Corrugated Polycarbonate

And they say this:

How to cut Lexan: Lexan Polycarbonate Corrugated sheet can be cut with a variety of common hand-held and table-mounted equipment. In general, sharp tooling with fine cutting teeth should be used to minimize vibration and clatter Sheets should be properly supported along the trim line before cutting. Circular Saws: Use a fine-tooth, hollow ground panel blade with 10-12 teeth per inch. Sabre saws equipped with a fine-tooth blade can also be used, but proper support is recommended.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Band saws work great if you have one big enough. If not, table saw as mentioned above, then use a blowtorch to finish the edges. Youtube has all of it covered.
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Old 09-25-2012, 06:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Metal blade in a jig saw
3 layers of masking tape
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:41 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Shit, a few years ago I cut several panels for a deck covering. I'll be damned if I remember which circular saw I used, but it was probably my 8" Milwaukee metal cutting with the finer tooth blade for thin metal. I didn't think anything of it, just cut it like I would corrugated tin or propanel, and no problems. Maybe I got lucky.

IME only the flat sheets will have protective coating.

On a different note, it took an act of congress to find this material in the same pattern as standard roofing "propanel" so I could shove it up under my existing roof. Finally found it thru Tallant, and then had to convince Lowe's they COULD order it, including providing Lowe's with the right number to call LOL
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:22 AM   #12 (permalink)
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We use a waterjet, but a router or table saw work fine too...
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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If you want to use the Circular Saw method, go out and get one of those really cheap plywood blades made of HSS only. No need for carbide, and the blade should be like $7.

Another method if you have air is to use a Body saw. Those fine steel cutting blades should work great. You could use a Saws-all with a really fine metal cutting blade.

But the biggest issue is going to be cutting down on vibrations. If you can clamp it to a sheet of plywood near the cut that will help. Something like the body saw with a nice short stroke will probably work best.

I have cut poly carbonate on a Table saw and it works well, just big, loud and difficult to maneuver a large sheet.



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Old 09-25-2012, 04:16 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I'd check with the manufacturer of the panels to see what their recommendations are.
Their recommendations are to order them the length you need straight from them and pay double the cost of a 12' sheet just for them to cut it into 4' pieces.
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Old 09-25-2012, 04:19 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D60 View Post
On a different note, it took an act of congress to find this material in the same pattern as standard roofing "propanel" so I could shove it up under my existing roof. Finally found it thru Tallant, and then had to convince Lowe's they COULD order it, including providing Lowe's with the right number to call LOL
I've got the Meuller Metal Buildings regional manufacturing plant right down the road from my house and they keep R and U panel polycarbonate sheets in stock but only in 12' lengths, anything else is custom ordered and the price doubles if you do that.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:46 PM   #16 (permalink)
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i cut it with a air powered body saw. as long as i use a new blade and don't rush it produces clean cuts. i have also used a high speed router with some luck when removing inserts while making some decorative parts with colored polycarbonate. ive heard guys have luck with circular saws running a new blade and putting wood directly under the cut but i have yet to try that style of cutting.


one of these style body saws.

for long cuts i use a piece of wood as a guide.

so far my newest one is from these guys and holding up well.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:58 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I use a plexiglass blade on the tablesaw and or the skill saw with a kerf blade. helps if you cut it over a sheet of plywood to support it.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Best way is to lay it on foam board and cut into the foam.Sabre saw with afine wood cutting blade or circle saw with a thin kerf carbide blade works good ,dont turn a carbide tipped blade backwards because you will knock the tips off the blade.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Depending on the poly carb it could cut easy, it could melt into a fucking nasty horrible mess that slings stringy goo...

I have had the best luck cutting thick polycarb and lexan with these sawzall blades, or any style pruning blade. Best bet is to try to get a sample piece, if not, you will know within the first few inches.

Have a broom ready, makes as much mess as wood.

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