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Attributes and Applications – UHMW

Companies in a huge array of industries make use of various plastics, including UHMW sheet(s), to support their operations. Though many simply use the term “plastic” to describe this category of materials, there are actually tons of specific varieties to choose from, each with their own unique qualities, benefits, and use cases to consider. 

UHMW sheet is a popular type of plastic that offers benefits for companies in a wide array of industries. Though it may not be a household name on its own, there’s a good chance you’ve come across it at some point. And there’s an even better chance that your company may be able to utilize this material to improve your processes or operations in some way. 

Here’s a guide to UHMW plastic to help you make the most of this powerful material. 

UHMW Sheets

What Is UHMW Plastic? 

UHMW is short for Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. It is sometimes also referred to as UHMW-PE. It is a semi-crystalline material, meaning it holds its shape extremely well within its approved temperature range.

However, it is also a thermoplastic, which means that it can be formed and shaped to fit custom applications when exposed to heat. It has a continuous use temperature range of up to 180° F or 82° C. So it holds its form up to that temperature and may be molded when exposed to higher ranges. 

UHMW plastic is most commonly found in industrial applications, food handling materials, and even packaging. However, it’s one of the most versatile plastics available on the market today. So the range of use cases extends well beyond those popular examples. 

Attributes of a UHMW Sheet

UHMW exhibits very low moisture absorption. This allows it to hold its basic form and attributes when exposed to water or other liquids. It also generally retains key physical properties at a wide range of temperatures, from the high temperatures listed above to as low as minus-22° F or minus-30° C. This makes it well suited for a variety of environments and even gives it good insulating properties.  

On the durability front, UHMW offers moderate mechanical strength and stiffness. It has excellent impact strength, so it doesn’t usually crack or break down when struck by other objects. And it offers superior abrasion resistance and low coefficient of friction, which means there’s little to no wear when other objects are dragged or swept against the surface of a UHMW sheet. It’s also fairly resistant to corrosion, which makes it able to stand up to various elements that may otherwise cause damage to certain materials. 

Machinability is another reason why UHMW is such a popular material in the world of plastics. The material is very easy to work with and can be formed and machined into a variety of applications. This is what gives it much of the versatility that allows it to be used by companies across so many different industries. 

Applications of UHMW Sheets

Overall, UHMW is an excellent general-purpose material. It offers performance properties that make it effective for use in a tremendous range of applications, from marine accessories to food storage. In addition to its basic properties, UHMW also meets a wide array of regulatory compliance standards that are relevant to companies in various industries. A few of these include 3-A Dairy, ASTM/Mil-Spec, FDA, UL-94 Flame Class, and USDA. So companies that must comply with these regulations when choosing packaging materials or equipment supplies can feel confident in choosing UHMW sheets. Though versatility is one of the main selling points of this plastic, here are a few of the areas where it is especially popular. 

When choosing plastics for food handling solutions, the ability to hold shape in a wide array of temperature environments and to avoid corrosion and stand up against moisture are essential. UHMW meets all of these qualifications and more. And it’s approved for use by various regulatory bodies like the FDA and USDA and dairy industry associations. So it’s common in packaging and handling equipment across the food service industry. 

UHMW’s durability and ability to resist friction and corrosion also make it a popular choice within the industrial sector. More specifically, it is commonly used in the production of conveyance mechanisms and material handling equipment. These items need to be able to withstand products moving across them on a regular basis. So UHMW’s friction and abrasion resistance can be especially helpful in these facilities. 

UHMW plastic is also widely used in packaging solutions. Specifically, it’s beneficial in use cases where wear resistance and durability are crucial. If an item needs to be protected from corrosion, extreme temperatures, moisture, or friction, UHMW plastic should be a top choice. 

If you’re interested in utilizing UHMW plastic for any of these applications, Polymershapes can help. We offer UHMW from industry-leading manufacturers like Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced MaterialsQuadrant Engineering Plastics. We can also provide UHMW plastic in a variety of shapes and sizes, including sheet, rod, and tubeYou can even request specific colors and grades of the material, including bearing grade, ceramic filled, and FDA approved. Since our facilities are outfitted with industry leading fabrication and conversion equipment, our team is always happy to customize orders and provide personalized service. We also have key distribution sites spread throughout the country to ensure fast shipping and turnaround times. In addition to UHMW sheets, we also provide a wide array of other plastic products including acrylic, corrugated twinwall, ABS, polycarbonate, HDPE, and many others. If you’re ready to reap the benefits of UHMW or any of these other plastics, visit our website and reach out to your local branch today.