5 Things You Need To Know About UHMW

UHMW plasticsUltra-High Molecular Weight (UHMW) is the highest quality polyethylene (PE) available, engineered for extreme performance and a wide range of applications. Because UHMW plastics resist so many different kinds of abuse we use it for machining plastic components and chain guides destined for high-wear operations such as commercial and industrial conveyor systems.

Ultra High Molecular Weight is the secret of this polymer’s unique properties. Its high-density polyethylene resin has a molecular weight range of 3 to 6 million, compared to 300,000 to 500,000 for high molecular weight (HD-PE) resins. That difference is what ensures that this material is strong enough to withstand abrasion and impact better than lower level plastics.

UHMW-PE cannot be transformed and molded by conventional plastic processing techniques (injection molding, blow molding or thermoforming). Instead, it is shaped using techniques more commonly used for metals. Compression molding and extrusion are the most common conversion process used with this resin because it produces a stronger, more consistent product.

All types of UHMW plastic used in our custom-fabricated parts offer the following five key characteristics:

  • Noise reduction UHMW compounds interact as moving parts in such a way as to generate less noise through friction and contact with other components
  • Self-lubrication The unique molecular structure of UHMW polymers results in a self-lubricating material which exhibits excellent wear and abrasion properties as well as adding extremely high impact strength.
  • Corrosion resistance UHMW polymers resist corrosion, making them ideal for applications that put them in contact with corrosive chemicals, such as acids
  • Low friction UHMW polymers feature a low coefficient of friction, well-suited for manufacturing chain channel, wear strips, belt scrapers, guides, and rollers.
  • Low moisture absorption UHMW has an absorption rate of less than .01%, making it popular for a wide range of marine and other applications that require exposure to high levels of humidity and moisture.

The high molecular weight is what gives UHMW-PE a unique combination of high impact strength, low co-efficient of friction and abrasion resistance that outwears carbon steel 10 to 1. That’s why UHMW-PE is more suitable for many applications where lower density grades fail.

To learn more about UHMW-PE and its uses, contact the UHMW polymer professionals at Slideways. We can help you select just the right UHMW product for your product and application.