POLYETHYLENE - PE

WHAT IS PE & WHAT IS IT USED FOR?

Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer with variable crystalline structure and an extremely large range of applications depending on the particular type. It is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world (tens of millions of tons are produced worldwide each year). The commercial process (the Ziegler-Natta catalysts) that made PE such a success was developed in the 1950s by German and Italian scientists Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta.  

There are a vast array of applications for polyethylene in which certain types are more or less well suited. Generally speaking, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is much more crystalline, has a much higher density, and is often used in completely different circumstances than Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). For example, LDPE is widely used in plastic packaging such as for grocery bags or plastic wrap. HDPE by contrast has common applications in construction (for example in its use as a drain pipe). Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) has high performance applications in things such as medical devices and bulletproof vests.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLYETHYLENE

Polyethylene(PE) is commonly categorized into one of several major compounds of which the most common include LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, and Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polypropylene. Other variants include Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE), Ultra-low-molecular-weight polyethylene (ULMWPE or PE-WAX), High-molecular-weight polyethylene (HMWPE), High-density cross-linked polyethylene (HDXLPE), Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX or XLPE), Very-low-density polyethylene (VLDPE), and Chlorinated polyethylene (CPE).

1. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is a very flexible material with very unique flow properties that makes it particularly suitable to plastic film applications like shopping bags. LDPE has high ductility but low tensile strength which is evident in the real world by its propensity to stretch when strained.

2. Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is very similar to LDPE with the added advantage that the properties of LLDPE can be altered by adjusting the formula constituents and that the overall production process for LLDPE is typically less energy intensive than LDPE.

3. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is a strong, high density, moderately stiff plastic with a highly crystalline structure. It is frequently used as a plastic for milk cartons, laundry detergent, garbage bins, and cutting boards.

4. Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) is an extremely dense version of polyethylene with molecular weights typically an order of magnitude greater than HDPE. It can be spun into threads with tensile strengths many times greater than steel and is frequently incorporated into high performance 

 

PROPERTIES OF POLYETHYLENE

Property

Value

Technical Name

Polyethylene (PE) (a.k.a. polythene, polyethene or polymethylene)

Chemical Formula

(C2H4)n

Melt Temperature

LDPE: 110 °C (230 °F)

HDPE: 130 °C (266 °F) **

Typical Injection Molding Temperature

LDPE*** & HDPE****: 21 – 66 °C (70 – 150 °F)

Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT)

85 °C (185 °F) at 0.46 MPa (67 PSI) **

Tensile Strength

LDPE:  7 MPa (1000 PSI) ***

HDPE: 20 MPa (2900 PSI) ****

Flexural Strength

LDPE:  6 MPa (800 PSI) ***

HDPE: 21 MPa (3000 PSI) ****

Specific Gravity

LDPE: 0.92 ***

HDPE: 0.95 ****

Shrink Rate

LDPE: 2.4 – 3.1 % (.024 – .031 in/in) ***

HDPE: 1.7 – 2.9% (0.017 – 0.029 in/in)****

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