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Polyethylene Plastic Grades, Advantages & Applications

Polyethylenes are semi-crystalline materials with excellent chemical resistance to organic solvents, degreasing agents and electrolytic attack.

They offer high impact strength and wear resistance and come in a wide range of properties due to differences in length of the polymer chain. Polyethylene plastics have lower working temperatures and tensile strengths than Polypropylene. Polyethylenes are easy to distinguish from other plastics because they float in water. Request a quote for our polyethylene plastic machining services today.

Material Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • High tensile strength
  • Impact-resistant
  • High compressive strength
  • Excellent dielectric properties
  • Resists most alkalis and acids
  • Resists stress cracking
  • Retains stiffness and flexibility
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Non-toxic
  • Non-staining
  • Easily fabricated
  • High heat resistance

View the Polyethylene Material Properties Chart

Grades & Applications

There are 3 grades of Polyethylene Plastic — Low Density (LDPE), High Density (HDPE) and Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW PE).

Low Density (LDPE)

This extruded material offers good corrosion resistance and low moisture permeability. Low Density Polyethylene plastic can be used in applications where corrosion resistance is important, but stiffness, high temperatures, and structural strength are unimportant.


A highly flexible product, LDPE plastic is widely used in orthopedic products, or where mobility without stress fatigue is desired. LDPE is also frequently used in consumer packaging, bags, bottles, and liners.

High Density (HDPE)

Representing the largest portion of the polyethylene plastic applications, HDPE offers excellent impact resistance, lightweight, low moisture absorption, and high tensile strength. It is non-toxic & non-staining.


High Density Polyethylene plastic meets FDA and USDA certification for food processing.

Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW PE)

Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene is lightweight (1/8 the weight of mild steel), high in tensile strength, and as simple to machine as wood. It is self-lubricating, shatter resistant, long-wearing, abrasion & corrosion-resistant. UHMW PE is  a good performer in applications up to 180 °F (82 °C) or when periodically cleaned with live steam or boiling water to sterilize.


UHMW PE s the ideal material for many wear parts in machinery and equipment, as well as a superb lining in material handling systems and storage containers. It also meets FDA and USDA acceptance for food and pharmaceutical equipment.

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