What is UHMW Polyethylene Plastic and What is it Used For?
When it comes to choosing the right plastics for your unique projects, there are plenty of options out there that can make it difficult to settle on the right material. However, if you’re in the market for a strong, lightweight, and durable plastic, UHMW plastic may be the material for you. Otherwise known as Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, this plastic often flies below the radar, remaining an unfamiliar material to most businesses and manufacturers.
As it turns out though, this type of plastic is an ideal material for both commercial and industrial applications, and for good reason–it has a myriad of benefits that make the material a superior alternative to other types of plastic on the market. Take a look:
What is UHMW?
As previously stated, UHMW stands for Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. Strong and versatile, this material offers high abrasion, impact, and wear resistance, while remaining relatively lightweight.
The secret to UHMW’s unique properties is its high molecular weight and surface–about 3 to 6 million molecules. As a result of this, UHMW will not melt or turn into molten liquid, making it ideal for high-temp areas.
What is Polyethylene Plastic Used For?
Polyethylene plastic, in general, has several useful applications. Because of its strength and durability, it is ideal when protective measures need to be taken as well. Spanning a variety of industrial and commercial uses, let’s take a look at UHMW plastic and how it can be used for you.
Food Service Cabinetry
In foodservice, materials need to be easy to sanitize, while keeping mold and bacteria at bay. Moreover, materials need to be able to stand up to potentially abrasive cleaners. UHMW is corrosion and chemical resistant enough to stand up to cleaners of all types. Best of all, it comes in several different finishes, meaning it’s easy to match a UHMW food shelf to any color scheme.
Food Service Cabinetry
In foodservice, materials need to be easy to sanitize, while keeping mold and bacteria at bay. Moreover, materials need to be able to stand up to potentially abrasive cleaners. UHMW is corrosion resistant and strong enough to stand up to cleaners of all types. Best of all, it comes in several different finishes, meaning it’s easy to match a UHMW food shelf to existing decor.
Its ability to withstand high temperatures, repeated stress, and exposure to chemicals makes UHMW extremely ideal for conveyor systems. This plastic is also ideal for creating star wheels for conveyor systems, which help transport products through assembly and sorting lines quickly and efficiently.
Docks and dock fenders are commonly made of UHMW and for good reason. This plastic is water-resistant and can withstand moisture for an extended period of time. It’s also abrasion-resistant and can easily withstand impact when watercrafts bump up against it while docking–there is little or no chance of it showing damage.
Boom Trucks and Outrigger Pads
It’s not uncommon to see UHMW used for boom trucks and outrigger pads. Outrigger pads can keep cranes and boom trucks from slipping on unstable construction surfaces—because of UHMW’s low friction coefficient and high impact strength, UHMW plastic performs well across these high-stress applications. Moreover, UHMW is suitable for a wide range of temperatures so it fares well outdoors.
It may come as a surprise to learn that UHMW plastic is an ideal material for body armor thanks to its impact resistance. It is also lightweight, which makes it comfortable to wear and it can be bent to meet the variety of shapes and sizes needed to shape armor correctly.
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