You can build plenty of different projects with a huge variety of building materials available today including plastics. One increasingly popular choice is Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight (UHMW) polythene. If you’re curious about what kind of material is UHMW, it’s a type of high-grade plastic that has many uses. We break down some of the most common questions asked about it below.
How Strong Is UHMW Plastic (And What Kind of Material is UHMW Anyway)?
UHMW plastic is a particularly tough plastic. It’s highly resistant to impact damage compared to HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) plastic and has an approximate tensile strength of 3100psi and flexural modulus of 110,000psi.
Because of this, the plastic is perfect for a wide range of uses including production lines and food packaging and processing machinery. It’s also highly durable and able to be used over and over again without significant wear.
Can UHMW Be Welded?
Yes, UHMW plastic can be welded. However, to get the best results it’s better to avoid using regrind although in some cases regrind plastic can also be welded.
While the plastic can be welded, it’s important to understand if there were any additives added to the plastic, it may result in it being unweldable.
For instance, if silicone or specific dyes to pigment the plastic are added, the material is no longer weldable. Unfortunately, the only surefire way to test which colours aren’t weldable is to actually try welding the plastic or to speak to the manufacturer if welding it is possible.
Is UHMW Flammable?
No. It would be HB on UL-1—i.e. slow-burning (less than three inches per minute). You’re safe to have it around heat without the worry of it bursting into flames from sparks. Because of this, and the fact that most UHMW plastic is weldable makes it perfect for a variety of projects and applications. Not least of which because the plastic is also highly abrasion and wear–resistant.
Can You Heat and Bend UHMW?
It’s not recommended that you try to heat and bend UHMW plastic. The material has a memory and will naturally want to return to its original shape until it is heated to a level where it just melts and no longer bends.
However, because of this property, it is perfect for products and applications where it needs to retain its shape, even under significant heat.
Is UHMW Anti-static?
UHMW is not naturally anti-static, but it is possible to purchase anti-static UHMW plastic. This type of anti-static plastic can be protected against static discharge and its properties will also keep dust and particles from building up on the material. The additives put into the plastic to make it anti-static will also last for the life of the material.
This property is particularly helpful when replacing metal components that wear out faster.
Can UHMW Be Painted?
UHMW plastic can’t be painted due to its water and chemically-resistant properties. While painting it isn’t possible, the material does come in a wide selection of colours that are likely solid substitutes to your initial painting plans.
Plastics are some of the best materials to work with as they break down much slower than other materials. What kind of material is UHMW? One that’s perfect for a wide range of projects and uses compared to other types of plastic. It’s durability, chemical resistance, and high abrasion resistance make it a natural choice for many uses.
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