Hey guys, I work in the plastic industry. My company makes thousands of windows for boats, buses, trains, planes and race
cars every month. Maybe I can clear some of this up.
Though Polycarbonate is stronger and more impact resistant, Acrylic
is the better choice for many reasons. Acrylic is cheaper and looks better. Acrylic is optically clearer. Polycarbonate is softer, so it scratches easier. Good quality Acrylic that's properly cared for will last you many, many years.
Crazing, cracking and fogging.
The number one reasion for this is chemical cleaners. Do not use Windex or other chemicals or cleaning
products on Acrylic. You may have used a cleaner on Acrylic before and it did not appear to damage it, it did. Cleaners attack the Acrylic and cause microscopic cracking, this is often not immediately apparent. Over time the cracks get bigger and bigger. Always use a soft clean rag or towel when cleaning
. Otherwise you create very fine scratches, over time all those scratches create fogging. Edge polishing(flame polishing or buffing) can also create crazing over time.
Tinted material vs. film
Go with tinted material. The problems with film stated in this thread are correct. Bubbling, blisters
and tears are very common.
A newer trend is to have a double layer window. You have your primary window with whatever tints and coatings you want protected by a thin(1/8"), cheap
replaceable outer window.