Why Do We Use Polyethylene For Plastics Manufacturing?

February 28, 2018

polyethylene granules raw plastic material

You may already be familiar with the major types of raw material we use for our plastics manufacturing processes, especially if you’re already an existing customer. Featuring heavily amongst them is polyethylene, which we use in various forms for our roto moulding projects for customers. In this week’s blog, we’ll be dive into a few details about polyethylene, and why we find it so useful in the plastics manufacturing industry.

What Is Polyethylene?

Essentially, it’s a thermoplastic polymer that has an extremely variable crystalline structure, which makes it hugely useful for a broad range of applications. The original commercial process was developed in the 1950s by a partnership of two Italian and German scientists, and since then it’s seen huge success in not just the world of roto moulding, but other plastic manufacturing techniques too. In fact, today polyethylene is one of the most widely produced plastics on the face of the earth, with tens of millions of tonnes of it produced and processed annually across the globe.

Polyethylene’s incredible utility has a lot to do with its status as a thermoplastic. The main reason why thermoplastics are so useful to companies like us here at Excelsior is because of their ability to be heated to their melting point, cooled and reheated again, all without significant or noticeable degradation. That makes polyethylene a prime candidate for rotomoulding, which subjects it to this exact process in order to create plastic products.

In its solid form, polyethylene is also non-toxic, which makes it particularly useful for food-grade materials like plastic packaging and plastic crates for transporting food.

A Quick Rundown of the Different Types of Polyethylene

The chemical makeup of polyethylene is versatile enough for it to be categorised into several different compounds, which allows it to fill a number of specialised roles. The most common of these compounds is Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).

LDPE is a particularly flexible material with a high ductility but a low tensile strength, so that under strain it stretches rather than snaps. These qualities make it ideal for plastic film applications – shopping bags, for example, or plastic wrapping.

Meanwhile, HDPE is more crystalline, which gives it a higher density so that it’s stronger, stiffer and more robust. This makes it handy for those in, say, the construction industry, for drain piping and similar applications. Others include milk cartons, laundry detergent, bins and cutting boards.

Polyethylene’s chemical structure even allows for a little in between. Our own safety steps here at Excelsior are made from medium density polyethylene, so they’re strong, durable and resistant to most chemicals, making ideal for safety applications. Meanwhile, our materials handling bins are made from food-grade polyethylene, so you can count on being able to transport your food safely without worrying about the risk of contamination. You can click here to browse more of our plastic products, or give us a call on 0161 765 2010 if you want to place an order.