A quick introduction to High Density Polyethylene

July 31, 2018


You may already be familiar with polyethylene – it’s one of the core materials we use in our roto moulding process here at Excelsior. Specifically, high density polyethylene is one of its very distinct sub-materials. If you’ve got a product in mind for plastic manufacturing, high-density polyethylene might be just the material you’re looking for!

What is High Density Polyethylene?

High Density Polyethylene (or HDPE for short) is a type of thermoplastic polymer, and one of the two types of polyethylene we use for our rotomoulding processes here at Excelsior. (The other being Low Density Polyethylene, or LDPE). HDPE’s status as a thermoplastic makes it fantastically useful because of its ability to be heated to its melting point, cooled and then heated again, all without incurring noticeable degradation.

HDPE specifically is the more highly crystalline form of polyethylene, making it stronger, stiffer and tougher than LDPE. It was first introduced in the 1930s, and used shortly afterwards in the production of radar cables in World War 2. Since then, its usage has branched out a lot, and now it’s amongst the most commonly used materials in British plastic manufacturing.

Seven major Advantages of HDPE

The benefits of high density polyethylene are many and varied, ranging from their structural advantages to their economical viability. It’s easy to see why it makes such an attractive choice of material for many businesses looking to take advantage of our roto moulding services.

1. Its strength and toughness

This is one of the defining characteristics of HDPE, and many of the material’s other benefits stem directly from it. Its strength not only makes it viable for a vast range of applications, but brings with it an implicit durability, too. In fact, it’s known primarily for its large strength-to-density radio (which dictates the maximum stress a material can withstand).

2. Its high thermal resistance

HDPE is helpfully resistant to an impressive range of temperatures, known to keep its structural integrity between temperatures of -100C all the way up to 80C.

3. It’s non-leaching

Leaching, in case you’re not familiar with the process, is the term used to refer to what happens when particles from a material are lost or extracted into a liquid. In this context, it means that if you use HDPE to make, say, a water container, then you don’t have to worry about accidentally drinking tiny pieces of plastic.

4. It’s highly resistant to chemicals or solvents

By the same token, HDPE’s resistance to contamination by chemicals or solvents make it brilliantly useful for containers such as chemical barrels or jerry cans for petrol and oil. As you can imagine, this gives it an inherent safety aspect that is always rated pretty highly by businesses!

5. Broadly maintenance free

As well as being resistant to chemicals and non-leaching, HDPE also possesses exceptional resistance to salt spray, oil, UV rays, graffiti, and splinting and warping. Unlike wood and other materials, insects tend to leave it alone too. Even if they could get into it, it wouldn’t make a terribly tasty meal!

This array of strengths and resistances makes it more or less maintenance free, saving businesses a notable amount of energy, cost and labour that it would otherwise take to look after it.

6. Eco friendly

It’s not a term the general public readily associates with plastic manufacturing, but HDPE requires just a fraction of the energy that’s normally needed to produce steel from iron ore. What’s more, its long serviceable lifespan and durability means it goes a very long time before having to be replaced, making it a more attractive and eco-friendly option than other, shorter-lived plastics.

7. Cost effectiveness

All this durability, resistance and eco-friendliness ultimately translates into significant cost savings for businesses, which is always useful!

If you think HDPE might be a suitable material for your next plastic product, why not take a look through our case studies, to see what we’ve achieved for other customers? Alternatively, feel free to give us a call on 0161 765 2010, and see how we can help!