Do you know what differentiates high density polyethylene (HDPE) from other types of plastic? This article will describe what makes it unique, what its most common applications are, and why you should consider using it for your next project.
What is high density polyethylene?
High density polyethylene or HDPE is a thermoplastic that was first created by Karl Ziegler and Erhard Holzkamp in the 1950s. Because of its popularity in the U.S., it’s now one of the most commonly used plastics.
High density plastic is made from ethylene molecules that come from natural gas. The polymerization process that results in the polyethylene HDPE can be carried out using the Ziegler, Phillips, or gas phase method. This produces a polymer that is structured without the branches that characterize other types of plastic polymers.
Here are some noteworthy characteristics of high density polyethylene plastic:
- HDPE resists chemicals and does not easily absorb liquids;
- An HDPE polymer is known for being light and flexible while simultaneously being hard and strong;
- This type of plastic is able to tolerate low temperatures and high impacts;
- HDPE material can withstand temperatures up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, but it can endure 230 degrees for longer durations,
- HDPE density ranges from 0.93 to 0.97 g/cm3.
High density plastic does not have
- Heavy metals;
This plastic is used in many different ways. You will find it in:
- Food containers;
- Marine products;
- Drain pipes;
- Outdoor signs;
- Milk bottles;
- Shampoo and conditioner bottles;
- Bleach containers;
- Shopping bags;
- Cutting boards,
HDPE plastic can be recycled, making it a more sustainable material to work with. It is actually quite easy to recycle and can be taken to most recycling centers.
After sorting, cleaning, and discarding any trash that got mixed in, HDPE plastic goes through a homogenization process. Subsequent steps involve shredding and melting the material before it’s cooled into pellets. These pellets are then utilized for manufacturing purposes.
Recycled high density polyethylene can be used for:
- Waste and recycling containers;
- Bike racks;
- Picnic tables;
- Outdoor furniture.
The markets that take advantage of HDPE materials include:
- Food services;
- Retail businesses;
- Golf courses;
- Public venues;
The chemical-resistant qualities of high-density plastic make it an ideal material to use in lab settings and the healthcare industry. And because HDPE materials don’t easily absorb liquids, this type of plastic is an excellent option when making containers that store liquids.
Advantages of HDPE
There are many compelling reasons for choosing this plastic for your next project. Listed below are some of those reasons.
Quick to install
HDPE is light and easy to move and does not require the use of heavy machinery. Consequently, it’s a breeze to install.
Polyethylene HDPE is more flexible than other types of polyethylene. This flexibility allows it to bend and be shaped for a wide variety of applications without the need for special tools.
HDPE is able to withstand exposure to liquids, impacts, and chemicals, meaning it will last for a long period of time.
Perhaps this is one of the best benefits of using a high density polymer. Many HDPE products come from materials that have already served useful lives and are being recycled to continue their use.
Plus, the process to make HDPE plastics doesn’t use up as much energy as other manufacturing processes do. And even though it doesn’t weigh much, HDPE plastic is strong. This strength makes it possible to use less of it when packaging food and other products.
Although not completely devoid of toxins, HDPE does not contain BPA. This is important when packaging food and beverages as well as producing containers that store them.
With an ability to resist many environmental impacts and elements, such as moisture, insects, warping, graffiti, and more, this type of plastic doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance.
This particular benefit is great news if you need underground pipes to transport water. Using HDPE plastic for the job will eliminate the risk of rot, mold, and mildew.
Although already mentioned, HDPE’s ability to hold up under forceful impacts is worth noting again because this durability will prevent damage.
Using sustainable building materials allows you to accumulate points that count towards earning LEED certification. Earning this certificate will show consumers that you are applying environmentally sound principles in your building projects.
With sustainability becoming a major concern for consumers, anything you can do to show them that you are playing your part towards helping the environment is a plus.
As you can probably tell, high density polyethylene is a superior material that offers many benefits. If you think it’s the right choice for your next project, contact us today!