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Polyethylene Foam: The Ideal Packaging Solution

December 06, 2019

The utility of polyethylene foam as a packaging material has allowed it to take centre stage on an international level, particularly within the shipping and handling industry. Transporting goods is a precarious endeavour, especially those that are fragile in nature; the success of the shipping and handling industry is contingent on delivering goods in as perfect a condition as possible.  

An ideal packaging solution should be lightweight, resilient, and durable – accurate descriptors of polyethylene foam that make it fit the bill.

Its suitable candidacy doesn’t end there, the insulative, and vibration-stifling characteristics it displays make it excel in preserving the nature of fragile objects during transportation.

You may think that its lightweight nature - which we brought up earlier - mean that exorbitant amounts of foam have to be used to achieve adequate levels of protection. If so, you’d be mistaken. Through an impressive load-bearing display, the volume of foam required, and packaging costs as a result, are brought down to economically scalable levels.

Unique applications for polyethylene can be derived depending on the properties:

Chemical properties

Much akin to paraffin, polyethylene demonstrates resilience to attacks from acidic and/or basic substances, oxidants, reducing agents, and salt solutions. Superior corrosion resistance like this, on top of being the least expensive of all plastics, make it no surprise that polyethylene sees expansive use for handling an assortment of package types.


Mechanical properties

The defining features of polyethylene are shown in its low friction, high ductility, and impact strength. While deformation under continuous load can be pronounced in certain variations of polyethylene, this can be alleviated with the addition of short fibers for more rigid solutions.


Thermal properties

The melting point of polyethylene is cited to be around 80°C, with its high-density counterpart ranging between 120-180°C. This range is dependent on the differences in crystallinity, chain branching, and molecular weight of the polyethylene in question.


Optical properties

Depending on the thickness of the film, thermal history, and crystal size, polyethylene foam has the ability to display optical characteristics across the spectrum, such as being translucent, transparent, or even opaque.


Reach out to a representative from Alcot Plastics, we’re here to help steer you towards foam materials that are perfectly geared towards your packaging needs!