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Different Variants of Polyethylene

February 12, 2021

Polyethylene foam is a kind of thermoplastic polymer with various crystalline structures and a wide range of uses depending on its specific type. PE foam is one of the most commonly used plastics globally, with millions of tons being manufactured every year. It was first developed during the ‘50s using different formulations of plastics.

Depending on their particular composition, different types of polyethylene foam work differently from each other:

In general, high-density polyethylene foam or HDPE is best suited for more applications than its low-density PE counterpart. HDPE is mostly used in situations that involve the construction and fabrication of industrial materials. On the other hand, LDPE is usually used in applications that involve plastic packaging such as in wraps and grocery bags.


PE foam is commonly classified into one of the many compounds available out there. There are many more variants of this compound. These include medium density polyethylene, ultrahigh molecular weight PE, high-density cross-linked PE, cross-linked PE, and very-low-density PE.   


Low-density polyethylene foam, or LDPE, is a very versatile foam material that has unique flow qualities which makes it very suitable for plastic film applications. It offers high ductility but low tensile strength allowing it to stretch considerably.


Another variety of PE foam is called the linear low-density polyethylene foam which works the same as LDPE but provides more benefits. For one, its properties can be changed by modifying the formula constituents and the entire production process, for it is usually less energy-intensive than low-density PE foam. Conversely, high-density PE foam offers more robust properties, making it more ideal to be used for applications such as in the case of cutting boards, plastic packaging for milk cartons, and garbage bins.


Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) is an extremely dense version of polyethylene, with molecular weights typically an order of magnitude greater than HDPE. It can be spun into threads with tensile strengths many times greater than steel and is frequently incorporated into bulletproof vests and other high-performance equipment.