Compare HDPE and UHMW to identify the best option for your project

Differences Between HDPE and UHMW

HDPE (high density polyethylene) is a durable, versatile, low-cost, abrasion- and chemical-resistant plastic material. HDPE is easy to fabricate and weld using thermoplastic welding equipment. It is an excellent choice for fabricated water tanks and chemical tanks.

UHMW (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) is an extremely tough, abrasion-resistant, low-cost plastic, used for a wide range of wear applications. UHMW is a popular plastic for countless industrial applications that require durability, low friction, and chemical resistance. Applications include UHMW wear strips, chain guides, and marine dock fender pads.

HDPE Material Characteristics
  • Easy to machine
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Impact resistant
  • Easy to fabricate
  • Easy to weld
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
HDPE Applications:
  • Chemical tanks
  • Cutting boards for food preparation
  • Water pipe flanges (HDPE pipe grade)
  • Outdoor and indoor playground systems
  • Marine construction (pile guards, bumpers, anti-skid surfaces)
  • Orthotics and prosthetics – AFOs, KAFOs
  • Light-duty tank, chute, and bin linings
  • Outdoor cabinetry and furniture
HDPE Common Brands
  • Polystone® G, Sanatec®, Orthoform®,
  • Sanalite®, Seaboard®, King StarBoard®, Playboard®, SIMOLIFE, Hitec®
UHMW Material Characteristics
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Impact resistant
  • Easy to fabricate
  • Good for friction and wear
  • Good for bearings
  • Easy to machine
UHMW Applications:
  • Chute, hopper, and truck bed liners
  • Wear strips and guide rails
  • Star wheels and idler sprockets
  • High-speed conveyors
  • Packaging machinery parts
  • Food processing machinery parts
  • Bumpers, pile guards, and dock fenders
UHMW Common Brands
  • Polystone® M, GUR®, Tivar®, LubX® C


Typical properties of HDPE vs. UHMW
Specific gravity (73°F)   D792 0.96 0.93
Tensile strength (73°F) psi D638 4,000 3,100
Tensile elongation (73°F) % D638 600 350
Flexural modulus of elasticity (73°F) psi D790 200,000 110,000
Rockwell M&R, Durometer Shore D (73°F)
scale as noted D785,
Shore D 69 Shore D 64
Izod impact (notched, 73°F) ft-lbs/in D256 - 18.0*
Coefficient of Friction   Dynamic - 0.10 - 0.20
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion in/in/°Fx10-5 D696 7.0 11.1
Heat deflection temperature @ 66 psi/264 psi °F D648 172 -
Maximum continuous service temperature in air °F   - 180
Water absorption (immersion 24 hours) % D570 0.10 slight

Values may vary according to brand name. Please ask your Curbell Plastics representative for more specific information about an individual brand. *Double-15° notch