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Comparing HDPE and UHMW Polyethylene

Comparing HDPE and UHMW Polyethylene

HDPE vs UHMW: When to Use High-Density Polyethylene

HDPE and UHMW are popular and well known types of plastics across many different industries for their reliability, so much so that many people have started to use them interchangeably. However, their uses don’t coin cide nearly as often as many think–HDPE has different qualities that lend well to different applications. While both materials are very light, with a density of .94 – which means they both float in water.

When best to use HDPE

High-Density Polyethylene or HDPE is known for its versatility and low moisture absorption, which result from its high-density chemical makeup. Its chemical composition also makes it highly chemical resistant, so it’s excellent for applications that involve moisture or mild chemicals.

HDPE is also very easy to machine and shape. As a result, it has been used successfully to make plastic lumber, milk jugs, containers, cutting boards, and many other products.

In addition to being easy to machine, HDPE sheet and rod are also relatively lightweight, and can be NSF and FDA compliant. This very durable material can not be glued or bonded, and thus must be heat welded together or attached with mechanical fasteners. HDPE is excellent for applications where reduced weight and low costs are paramount. This, combined with its easy machinability, allows HDPE to be cut, drilled, routed and shaped for many different end uses. Food cutting boards, piping, storage vessels, marine components, and many more benefit from HDPE. It’s also been successful in outdoor furniture, signage, playground equipment, structural tanks, food processing equipment, vacuum-formed parts, transfer boards, tank liners–and this is just a small number of its applications.

When not to use HDPE

While HDPE and UHMW have similar properties, they are often better suited to different tasks. Both plastics do have high impact resistance, but UHMW (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) performs better in applications where friction and constant impact are present. The UHMW molecular chain is much longer, thus giving UHMW the extreme wear resistance. This results in UHMW being used more often in functional components, like conveyor systems, concrete chute liners, mated parts, bumpers, and bearing applications. HDPE does not perform as well as UHMW under constant friction, making HDPE better for food processing surfaces, chemical resistant parts, decorative products, or components that will not experience constant friction. If a reduced friction application is needed, the use of UHMW with a coefficient of friction of just 0.08 (compared to HDPE with a coefficient of friction of 0.20) is much more suitable.

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UHMW-PE Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene

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UHMW Polyethylene Sheet

Lightweight & FDA compliant


UHMW Sheet and UHMW Rod

UHMW Polyethylene material is used frequently in a self lubricating bearing surface or slide type application. In fact, many of our clients refer to UHMW as ‘machinable solid wax‘ sheet. The wear resistance of this awesome plastic will impress you, as it is the most wear resistant of any unfilled material available.UHMW Polyethylene Timing Roller

Resistant to most common chemicals. Commonly replaces aluminum, Acetals, and Nylons. Used frequently in Food and Dairy Processing, Material  Handling, Fluid Handling, and Automotive. UHMW is great for wear strips, rub rails, guides, conveyor parts, feed screws, and many more applications.

UHMW Rod is machined to make pulleys, wheels, and washers. UHMW sheet is machined to produce FDA approved slip surfaces, food process fixtures, and scrapers. Some popular brand or trade names are Polystone® M, Lennite®, Tivar®, Duravar®, Gardur®, Solidur®, Polyslick®, UHMV®, Polyfend®, and Durasurf®.

We stock a very large inventory of UHMW performance plastic sheets and rods.

UHMW_timing_roller

Why you should use UHMW-PE :

  • Very low specific gravity (floats in water)
  • Superior wear resistanceVery low moisture Absorption
  • High chemical resistance
  • Very low cost vs. physical properties

This material is excellent wearing and very abrasion resistant – one of the best materials made for these properties. Promotes the flow of bulk material (sand, soy beans, coal, ect). Superior material for wear strip, conveyor rails, slide plate, wear pads.

  • Very low moisture absorption
  • FDA, USDA and 3-A dairy compliant
  • Superior wear resistance
  • Chemically resistant to chlorine and caustic/acidic cleaning agents
  • Offers excellent strength, rigidity and machinability

UHMW is ITAR compliant, and UHMW is RoHS compliant

Frequently used in:

  • Food, Dairy and Packaging equipment
  • Timing screws, wear and slide machined parts
  • Star wheels, idler sprockets and guide rails
  • FDA and 3-A approved material for Scraper blades
  • Hopper, chute lining, feeder lines and wear plates

Materials Available As

UHMW Sheet:

.125″ – 4″ in Natural (white) up to 48″ X 120″
Black available in many thicknesses
Some sheet available up to 8″ thick contact for details.
UHMW Rod:
.250″ – 8″ diameter in Natural (White) and in some diameter Black up to 120″ lengths
Larger diameter available in non-FDA grades, contact for details.
UHMW Film:
.005″ – .060″ in up to 48″ wide Natural with and without adhesive
General PropertyASTM TestTypical Value
Specific GravityD792.93 – .94
Tensile Strength YieldD6386,800
Coefficient of Friction – StaticD1894.25
Izod Impact – NotchedD256No Break
Hardness – RockwellD785R64
Vicat Softening TempD1525260
Deflection Temp @ 66 psiD648174
Co. Thermal ExpansionD69611.0X10-5

 

Properties are for evaluation purposes only. This information is not to be construed as a warranty, guarantee or assurance that you may achieve the same results. Materials made from different resin types, manufacturing techniques and manufacturers will react differently. The information should be used to compare against other materials only, and each user should make his own tests to determine suitability. No warranty as to this materials suitability are either expressed nor implied.