In our daily life, we are surrounded by objects made of many elements that we rarely stop to think about.
One of the most common materials is polyethylene (PE), a whitish thermoplastic material that we can find every day in many daily products such as a bag, packaging, a doorknob or even our mobile telephone.
It is the most simple of the polymers from a chemical point of view, made up of a linear and repetitive unit of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

We are going to give a brief history of polyethylene (PE) below:
It was discovered as the result of a chemical error, but, once its capabilities were discovered with great surprise in 1898, it started to be chemically synthesised into what we know today as low-density polyethylene.
Over time, with the help of catalysts, its formula was improved, which resulted in the people who discovered it being awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1963.
Polyethylene is not a good conductor of heat or electricity, and its density (in the solid state) varies with temperature.
Generally, the mechanical properties of the material will depend on the thermal history of its manufacture, in other words, the specific way it was cooled and solidified.
It has a high resistance to compression and impact, and it becomes fragile only at extreme low temperatures (from 50° below zero).

Polyethylene is an extremely versatile plastic.

Numerous items can be produced from it, such as packaging film for the food, pharmaceutical and agroindustrial sectors, packaging in the personal hygiene and cleaning industries (for detergents, shampoo, bleach), etc.

It is a thermoplastic that is suitable for the manufacture of baby bottles, toys, as well as cables and cable coatings, and pipes. It is even used, thanks to its very adaptable chemical characteristics, in the manufacture of mechanical parts and chain guides.

Nowadays, polyethylene is mainly divided into two main types, according to its density:

• PELD - low-density polyethylene: it is colourless, odourless and non-toxic, and is used in the food industry.
It is a partially crystalline and amorphous material, whitish in colour and translucent.
The uses of low-density polyethylene are very diverse, as you can find it in all types of bags, automatic food packaging and industrial products, film, IV bags, doorknobs, irrigation pipes, among others.

PELD has a white and translucent appearance, and has a soft, scratchable surface.
It is a much more flexible material than high-density polyethylene.
It boasts very good processability, thermal and chemical resistance (it is chemically inert – almost non-reactive).
Only under the action of strong oxidising agents can it be chemically destroyed, and at very high temperatures it can be dissolved with the help of aromatic or halogenated hydrocarbons.

• PEHD - high-density polyethylene is used in the packaging sectors, and is very common in the food, electrical, construction etc. sectors.
High-density polyethylene is a cost-effective thermoplastic that is easy to obtain and process, and it has very good physical, chemical, mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical properties that make it the most consumed plastic in the world.

 In contrast to PELD, high-density polyethylene is notable for its hardness and higher density.
At Induplast, we mainly work with PELD due to its brilliant and numerous characteristics that give us greater assurance in the manufacturing processes.
It is mainly used for high hardness packaging, bags for supermarkets, corner shops and household items, oils, drums, pipes for gas, telephone, drinking water, chain guides and mechanical parts.
It is also used to cover ponds, neutralisation pits, water tanks, artificial lakes, etc.


MECHANICAL PROPERTIES
- High-impact and bending resistance
- Good sliding properties

THERMAL PROPERTIES
- Can withstand temperatures up to 80°C, without subjecting it to high mechanical demands
- Very low thermal conductivity

WATER ABSORPTION - Water repellent. Does not display swelling phenomena.

SLIDING PROPERTIES
- It has self-lubricating properties, especially in dry sliding friction with metals, such as steel, brass and copper.

In conclusion, polyethylene has a wide range of applications and uses, which, apart from its reasonable price, makes it one of the most requested and used polymers in the majority of the economic and industrial sectors.

It is a material that we find in our hands every day.

Right now, your keyboard, mouse or the water bottle that you are drinking from could be made from polyethylene.
An important issue we must take into account is its recycling to help the environment, we must make good use of it and, when it is no longer useful or required, we should recycle it.

 
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