In order to provide the best quality plastic products, parts, and components for our clients, Advanced Plastiform, Inc. always ensures that we use the right materials for the project. One of the most versatile thermoplastics we use is high molecular weight polyethylene, also known as HMWPE or PE500.
What Is High Molecular Weight Polyethylene?
Polyethylene is the most commonly used plastic material in the world and accounts for over one-third of the total plastics marketed. There are multiple variants from low-density and high-density to High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, so these variants can be used in a huge spectrum of uses.
- Non-toxic and can be used for food storage
- Chemical resistant
- Abrasion resistant
- Impact resistant
- Water and moisture resistant
- Has a very low friction coefficient
- Easy and inexpensive to recycle
- Highly customizable
We specifically use HMWPE, which is an extremely dense form of polyethylene. The higher the molecular weight of the polymer, the stronger and more impact resistant the thermoplastic is, allowing us to manufacture a long-lasting, highly durable product.
HMWPE thermoforming is a highly efficient way to manufacture large plastic products and components. With over 60,000 square feet dedicated to thermoforming, we offer fast lead times for both big and small orders. This method of HMWPE plastics manufacturing is performed by heating the polyethylene until it’s soft, then fitting it around a custom designed tool. Then we finish the product using one of three methods, depending on the design of the product.
Vacuum forming HMWPE is the most basic method of thermoforming. Once the plastic is heated and fitted around the custom tool, a high-powered vacuum is used to suction out any air, drawing the plastic more tightly against the tool to get the shape. Vacuum forming is ideal for large plastics that don’t need sharp edges or high levels of detail, which is why it’s often used to make trays and totes often used in material handling.
Pressure forming plastics is a bit more advanced than vacuum forming, and is used for large plastic pieces that require the detail and sharp corners that can’t be achieved through vacuum forming. After fitting the polyethylene around the tool, the plastic is hit with highly pressurized air, pressing it firmly against the tool with a much greater force than what’s used in vacuum forming. Pressure forming is also used as a less expensive alternative to injection molding in some circumstances, and is ideal for making medical equipment and electrical control panels.
Twin sheet forming is the most intensive method of HMWPE plastic thermoforming as it requires two sheets of HMWPE to be heated adjacent to one another, then fit together precisely, often to form a hollow or double-walled product. Polyethylene thermoforming using twin sheets leaves no room for error because the pressed points where the sheets fuse together must be aligned perfectly, or the product’s integrity will weaken. With HMWPE’s self-lubricating feature with low friction coefficient, it’s excellent to use when manufacturing trash chutes used in construction equipment.
HMWPE Injection Molding
HMWPE injection molding is used for small plastic parts and components, especially those that need high levels of detail, ridges, or varying thickness across the part. To achieve this, the polyethylene is melted and injected into a custom-designed double-sided mold. While the high upfront costs of tooling can be a drawback, once the tool is designed, it’s easy to mass produce parts, which makes the per-unit cost much lower. Because HMWPE is moisture resistant and abrasion resistant, it’s used to manufacture seals, bearings, and medical components.
What Is HMWPE Used For?
Due to its ability to stand up to impacts, abrasion, and moisture, high molecular weight polyethylene is used in all types of industries, including:
- Material handling – used for shipping trays, containers, and chutes
- Automotive – used to make fenders, bumpers, and dash panels
- Food preparation materials – including packaging and plastic cooking tools
- Medical – to make trays and even used in medical joint replacements, like hips and knees
- Fibers – Because of its tensile strength, it can be used as a composite in fishing line, ropes and cables, and protective gear.
Contact Us for HMWPE Manufacturing
We are proud to be a leader in HMWPE plastics manufacturing, capable of providing custom plastics to customers across numerous industries. Our clients know we offer the durable, long-lasting products they need while providing competitive pricing and fast lead times. We work with businesses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. Please contact us today by calling 919-404-2080 or filling out our form below to discuss your custom plastic manufacturing needs.