It is the axiom of building a better mousetrap that continually has researchers and manufacturers always looking for the next best thing. These days, with the condition of the earth so front of mind, manufacturers are looking for materials that can stand up to harsh conditions that can also be recycled and reused. One material that meets these standards is HDPE, or high-density polyethylene.
Plastics that are used for manufacturing and packaging tend to come from the six popular resin concentrations used today. Whether for bottles and jugs, cutting boards, or piping, petroleum products are very versatile due to the way they can be melted into liquid form for convenient molding or shaping. Other advantages include customization for printing or coloring the plastic as well as being able to make it food-safe. Further, it can be formulated to withstand caustic chemicals and is corrosion-resistant. All of these together means that it is a very strong material
If HDPE is high-density polyethylene, then it stands to reason that LDPE has to be low-density polyethylene. LDPE is more flexible due to its lighter nature. The difference has to do with the polymer chains and how they undergo either tight crystallization or a more diffused and scattered formation. You see LDPE more commonly used for such things as plastic bags and plastic sheeting.
LDPE is more flexible, but its lighter construct also makes it more susceptible to damage. HDPE is a more reliable plastic for use in manufacturing and packaging and therefore more preferred. From toys to garbage cans, HDPE has also been recognized as the preferred material replacing cardboard and fireworks tubes for the safety of being shatterproof in the event of a malfunction.
HDPE comes in many formats, including sheets. As an excellent budget plastic, HDPE sheets, such as those from Sandhill Plastics, can be used in a wide variety of applications. Used for shipping, it saves on fuel because it is lightweight. Similarly, it is favored for car parts such as fuel tanks, interiors and bumpers for fuel-efficiency. HDPE sheets can be cut or drilled just like wood.
Due to its resilience, HDPE is often used to make pipes and linings for reservoirs to prevent the different substances held from leaching into the ground. The material is rigid, but not brittle. It will not shatter. The sheets can be purchased in different thicknesses for the appropriate use.
Since HDPE is FDA approved, it is safe for food processing or food use. There are no BPAs to worry about. When it comes to sustainability, the market for HDPE continues to expand as the material is recyclable. It is immune to nearly all chemicals. However, it is not UV resistant and will oxidize when exposed to acids. Since it does not interact with other chemicals, it is the ideal material for use as chemical bottles for everything from laundry detergent to antifreeze.
Ultimately, HDPE has proven to be a versatile manufacturing and packaging material for a list of practical uses that continues to grow. It is clean, light and strong. Shipping costs are low for HDPE saving millions for companies. Beyond all those advantages, it is also a recyclable material, so there is no need to see these items piling up in landfills.