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UHMW Polyethylene

UHMW Polyethylene

UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) Polyethylene is 1/8 the weight of mild steel but is high in tensile strength and as simple to machine as wood. Also unlike steel, UHMW Polyethylene reduces noise in many applications. It is an inexpensive alternative to metals, ceramics, and wood because it is self-lubricating, long-wearing, and resistant to shattering, abrasion, and corrosion. UHMW Polyethylene is well suited for applications that demand durability and low friction. It causes no undesirable taste, smell, or discoloration, and it can be cleaned with water, steam, detergents, or disinfectants. UHMW Polyethylene will withstand intermittent temperatures of up to 212° F, while at the same time being ideal for use in freezing lines.

A semi-crystalline, whitish and effectively opaque engineering thermoplastic which, chemically, is a very high molecular weight (3-6 million) HDPE. As a result it has an extremely high melt viscosity and normally can only be processed by powder sintering methods. It also has outstanding toughness and cut and wear resistance and very good chemical resistance, somewhat better than that of HDPE. Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), also known as high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) or high performance polyethylene (HPPE), is a thermoplastic. It has extremely long chains, with molecular weight numbering in the millions, usually between 3.1 and 5.67 million. This high molecular weight results from efficient packing of chains into the crystal structure.

UHMWPE is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic. It is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals except oxidizing acids; has extremely low moisture absorption and a very low coefficient of friction; is self-lubricating; and is highly resistant to abrasion, in some forms being 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel. Its coefficient of friction is significantly lower than that of nylon and acetal, and is comparable to that of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon), but UHMWPE has better abrasion resistance than PTFE.

Applications include many "wear parts" (eg bottle handling machine components), gears, bearings, artificial joints and marine quay headings. Fibres of very high molecular orientation can also be made from polyethylene of very high molecular weight by gel spinning and subsequent drawing to give fibres which are reported to be up to 85% crystalline and with 95% parallel orientation. They are known as Ultra High Modulus or High Performance Polyethylene fibre (UHMPE or HPPE).

Key Properties

Resistant to impact, abrasion, corrosion, moisture, and chemicals

High tensile strength




Standard Shapes and Forms

Sheet: .060” – 8” thick

Rod: .025” – 10” diameter

Tubular Bar: .875” – 9.50” OD / .250” – 8.25” ID

Other Forms:  Wear strip, Tivar®, Extruded wear profiles – U-Channel, Angle etc.

The range of sizes and shapes are grade specific.

Grades and Colors

Virgin: Natural (white) and black

Reprocessed: Black and green

UHMW Polyethylene Pictures