What is High Density Polyethylene Sheet (HDPE Sheet)?

Although polycarbonate sheeting and plexiglass are two of the most talked about plastic sheeting materials, high density polyethylene sheeting is the most widely used. Your son’s toy truck? Made from HDPE. Your storage containers? Made from HDPE. Your hard hat for work? You guessed it, made from HDPE sheeting.

So what is high density polyethylene? What makes it so versatile and why is it so popular?

What is HDPE?

High density polyethylene plastic is most commonly known and referred to as HDPE sheet plastic. This thermoplastic is made from a string of ethylene molecules (hence, the poly part of polyethylene), and is known for being both lightweight and strong. With more and more companies embracing sustainability initiatives, HDPE sheet popularity has skyrocketed as it can cut down on the material used to produce and package products due to its weight and strength.

Types of HDPE Sheet

There are a variety of types of high density polyethylene plastics, all which have different applications and uses.

HDPE Matte Sheet

Matte HDPE sheeting was specially formulated to manufacture items such as cutting boards, as the material ensures a long product life and won’t dull knives. Matte HDPE plastic sheeting is acid resistant, compliant with FDA regulations, and approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).

HDPE Smooth Sheet

Smooth HDPE sheeting has a variety of qualities that make it an ideal material for many applications. Smooth HDPE is easily fabricated and features good chemical resistance, tensile strength, and is moisture and impact resistant. One of the most common applications of HDPE smooth sheeting is tank lining.

HDPE Pipe Grade

Pipe grade HDPE plastic features improved weight and performance than standard HDPE sheeting. The improved features of pipe grade HDPE make it the most popular HDPE sheet for outdoor applications.

HDPE ColorCore®

HDPE ColorCore® features a colored HDPE sheet core, that allows manufacturers to create signs and letters that expose the interior color. Colored high density polyethylene sheet features the same strength and durability features as smooth and matte HDPE.

HDPE Antiskid

Antiskid HDPE sheet was created specifically for marine applications where a non-slip or skid surface is required.

All grades of HDPE plastic sheeting provide the same basic features and benefits that set them apart from plastic sheeting materials such as polycarbonate or acrylic sheet.

Benefits of Using HDPE Sheet

HDPE sheeting is popular for a variety of reasons and depending on who you ask; you’ll often receive a number of different ideas to what the biggest benefit is. The most notable benefits of HDPE sheet includes:

  • Weight: As mentioned before, HDPE is known for being extremely lightweight yet durable.
  • Malleability: HDPE is easily molded and transformed into just about any shape or design.
  • Resistance: Not only does HDPE sheet feature a high chemical and impact resistance, but it also is resistant to rotting, insects, mildew and mold.
  • Weatherability: HDPE sheet is often used for outdoor applications as it can stand some of the most extreme weather.
  • Life-Span: Because HDPE has such high impact, chemical, and weather resistance, HDPE can outlast traditional materials.
  • Durability: As mentioned earlier, the durability of HDPE while being lightweight is one of the things that contribute to its popularity. If you’ve ever dropped a child’s plastic toy, you’ve likely experienced the durability of HDPE, as HDPE does not shatter, rather it ‘bounces’ back.
  • Sustainability: HDPE sheeting is recyclable, which is why many recycled plastic products such as recycled plastic lumber and trash cans contain HDPE.

These benefits and others include application-specific benefits all contribute to the success and popularity of the plastic material.

Common Applications of HDPE

Aside from antiskid HDPE sheet which was designed specifically for marine applications, HDPE plastic is used across a wide-range of industries and applications. Without realizing it, you’ve likely used something made of HDPE before. Common applications include:

  • Fuel tanks
  • Telecom ducts
  • Piping systems
  • Milk jugs
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Bread bags
  • Hard hats
  • Water Bottles

And the list goes on. Next time you pick up a plastic item, check the bottom. If its recycle number is a 2, it contains HDPE.

If you are interested in learning more about high density polyethylene sheeting, its benefits, and applications, please contact us to speak with a plastic expert.