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HDPE vs. UHMW: Which is Better?

HDPE vs. UHMW is a long-time debate that, rightfully so, can cause confusion when looking at the differences and similarities between the two. Both appear very similar while also sharing many similar properties.


The Differences Between HDPE and UHMW


HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): HDPE, known as High-Density Polyethylene, is a low-cost, versatile, easy-to-fabricate, and non-absorbant thermoplastic polymer. This material has a high strength-to-density ratio, which is referred to in its own name; HDPE. HDPE is food-grade approved and is commonly used for various applications including FDA food processing applications (in natural colors only), as well as boats, and RVs.


UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene): UHMW is commonly compared to HDPE as it is also a cost-effective, chemical and impact-resistant, and non-absorbent material. This material is a great option when friction and wear are a concern. UHMW has very long polymer chains and also high molecular weights. Even with this difference, the appearance of UHMW is indistinguishable next to HDPE.


HDPE Common Applications

UHMW Common Applications

  • Chemical and other liquid storage tanks

  • Cutting boards for food preparation

  • ​Chute, hopper, and truck bed liners

  • Wear strips and guide rails

  • Anti-friction liners

When the question of "Which is Better?" comes into the conversation, it is not solely based on whether HDPE is better than UHMW or vice versa. Cost, cosmetic appearance, and material properties are just a few things to keep in mind when making a selection.


Still not sure which material would be ideal for your project? Feel free to reach out to us through our contact form or email us at service@gplastics.com.

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