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 sheets | UHMW-PE colored sheets

HDPE Material Characteristics

UHMW Material Characteristics

• Easy to machine and fabricate
• Good chemical resistance
• Impact resistant
• Easy to weld
• Good for orthotics and prosthetics
• Easy to machine and fabricate
• Good chemical resistance
• Impact resistant
• Good for friction and wear
• Good for bearings

HDPE Applications

UHMW 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
• Duct bank spacers and bore spacers
• 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
• Material handling machinery parts
• Bumpers, pile guards, and dock fenders

HDPE Common Brands

UHMW Common Brands

• Polystone® G, Sanatec®, Orthoform®, Sanalite®, Seaboard®, StarLite®, King StarBoard®, Playboard®, SIMOLIFE, Hitec® • Polystone® M, GUR®, Tivar®, LubX®

Typical Properties of HDPE vs. UHMW

Property Units ASTM Test
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 11.1
Heat deflection temperature (66 psi) °F D648 172 -
Maximum continuous service temperature in air °F - - 180
Water absorption (immersion 24 hours) % D570 0.1 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.

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