The Density Of Plastics | The Complete Guide

Hello everybody. Today I will share a deeply researched guide on the density of plastics. So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is the Density of Plastic Materials?

Density in plastics is the measurement of mass per unit volume. It is calculated by dividing the material’s mass by volume and is generally expressed in g/cm3. The density of plastics usually varies with temperature changes. It may also change due to solvent absorption, plasticizer loss, and crystallinity change.

Therefore to figure the accurate density of plastic material, certain things need to be taken care of, such as:

  • Identifying the material
  • Observe and follow the physical changes in the specimen
  • Specify the consistency among different Samling specimens
  • Specify the average density of a large item
  • Calculate the strength weight and cost-weight ratios

How to Calculate The Plastic Density

The density of any object and its substance is found by dividing the object’s total mass by the total volume of the thing. However, you might need to use different methods to determine the importance of any object; as far as calculating density, it will be calculated similarly by this formula.

There are several methods to determine density, but the below are the most common ones:

  • ASTM D1505
  • ASTM D792-98
  • ISO 1183-2

ASTM D1505

ASTM S1505 testing method uses the Density-gradient technique to determine the density of a material. Here, the material is kept in a liquid column of variable density with glass beads.

The material’s relative density to the floats in the column and the density of the glass beads determine the density.

ASTM D792-98

ASTM D792-98 describes establishing solid plastics’ specific gravity and density in forms like rods, sheets, tubes, or molded items. There are mainly two methods involved in the process:

  • Test Method A – For testing solid plastics in water
  • Test Method B – For testing solid plastics in other liquids

ISO 1183-2

The method includes a gradient column technique for establishing the density of extruded or non-cellular plastics in void-free form. Density gradient columns consist of two liquids that consistently increase density in the queue from top to bottom.

Below is the chart showing the density values of all mainstream plastics.

Interesting Read – What is Hardness in Plastics? An In-Depth Guide

The Density of Plastics – Minimum and Maximum Values

Polymer NameMin Value (g/cm3)
Max Value (g/cm3)
ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene1.021.21
ABS Flame Retardent0.151.2
ABS High Heat1.11.15
ABS High Impact11.1
ABS/PC Blend – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene/Polycarbonate Blend1.11.15
ABS/PC Blend 20% Glass Fiber1.251.25
ABS/PC Flame Retardant1.171.19
ASA – Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate1.051.07
ASA/PC Blend – Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate/Polycarbonate Blend1.151.15
CA – Cellulose Acetate1.221.34
CAB – Cellulose Acetate Butyrate1.151.22
CPVC – Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride1.51.55
ETFE – Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene1.71.7
EVA – Ethylene Vinyl Acetate0.920.94
EVOH – Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol1.11.2
HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene0.940.97
HIPS – High Impact Polystyrene1.031.06
HIPS Flame Retardant V01.151.17
LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene0.9170.94
LLDPE – Linear Low-Density Polyethylene0.9150.95
PA 11 – (Polyamide 11) 30% Glass fiber reinforced1.251.27
PA 11, Conductive1.131.13
PA 11, Flexible1.031.05
PA 11, Rigid1.021.03
PAI – Polyamide-Imide1.41.4
PAI, 30% Glass Fiber1.61.6
PAI, Low Friction1.41.5
PBT – Polybutylene Terephthalate1.31.4
PBT, 30% Glass Fiber1.51.6
PC (Polycarbonate) 20-40% Glass Fiber1.351.52
PC (Polycarbonate) 20-40% Glass Fiber Flame Retardant1.41.5
PC – Polycarbonate, high heat1.151.2
PE – Polyethylene 30% Glass Fiber1.21.28
PEEK – Polyetheretherketone1.261.32
PEEK 30% Carbon Fiber-reinforced1.41.44
PEEK 30% Glass Fiber-reinforced1.491.54
PEI – Polyetherimide1.271.3
PEI, 30% Glass Fiber-reinforced1.51.6
PEI, Mineral Filled1.41.5
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate1.31.4
PET, 30% Glass Fiber-reinforced1.51.6
PETG – Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol1.271.38
PI – Polyimide1.311.43
PLA – Polylactide1.231.25
PLA, Heat Seal Layer1.231.25
PLA, High Heat Films1.231.25
PLA, injection molding1.241.26
PLA, Spunbond1.231.25
PLA, Stretch blow-molded bottles1.231.25
PMMA – Polymethylmethacrylate/Acrylic1.171.2
PMMA (Acrylic) High Heat1.151.25
PMMA (Acrylic) Impact Modified1.11.2
POM – Polyoxymethylene (Acetal)1.411.42
POM (Acetal) Impact Modified1.31.35
POM (Acetal) Low Friction1.41.54
POM (Acetal) Mineral Filled1.51.6
PP – Polypropylene 10-20% Glass Fiber0.971.05
PP, 10-40% Mineral Filled0.971.25
PP, 10-40% Talc Filled0.971.25
PP, 30-40% Glass Fiber-reinforced1.11.23
PP (Polypropylene) Copolymer0.90.91
PP (Polypropylene) Homopolymer0.90.91
PS (Polystyrene) 30% glass fiber1.251.25
PS (Polystyrene) Crystal1.041.05
PS, High Heat1.041.05
PTFE – Polytetrafluoroethylene2.12.2
PTFE, 25% Glass Fiber-reinforced2.22.3
SAN – Styrene Acrylonitrile1.061.1
SAN, 20% Glass Fiber-reinforced1.21.4
UHMWPE – Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene0.930.95
XLPE – Crosslinked Polyethylene0.9151.4

Disclaimer – All the values mentioned in the table are well-researched and come from reliable sources but are shared for knowledge purposes. You should prefer consulting your supplier to get an accurate value for the material you want to work with. 

What is the Bulk Density of Plastic Materials?

Bulk plastic density is the weight of material based on a given volume. Bulk density is expressed in three different ways:

  • Pounds per cubic foot (lb/cu ft)
  • Grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc)
  • Kilograms per liter (kg/l)

Bulk densities differ for every plastic material. Therefore, manufacturers measure productivity based on the weight of plastic material processed through their equipment.

Why is the Bulk Density of Plastic Materials Important?

Bulk plastic density affects material storage. For example, plastic material is often stored or packed in a specific size container. Although resin pellets of different materials have different properties and bulk densities, similar-sized containers of other materials will possess drastically different material weights.

Bulk density also affects the sizing of drying equipment. For the drying operations to remain smooth, the required weight of the material must be dried at the right temperature for the correct residence time. Therefore, the hopper size is significant to ensure the correct output of dried material for processing at the right time.

How Does Plastic’s Density Affect Its Other Properties?

Strength and rigidity: Plastics with a higher density frequently display increased tensile strength and rigidity, making them appropriate for demanding applications. For example, due to its exceptional sturdiness, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is commonly employed in various industries, such as packaging, automotive parts, and construction.

Durability: Plastics with a higher density generally exhibit enhanced resistance to wear, abrasion, and impact. This improved resilience makes them perfect for durable products like pipe networks and exterior furnishings.

Thermal Conductivity: Density influences a plastic’s heat transfer capacity. Higher-density materials usually possess extraordinary thermal properties, enabling them to disperse heat more efficiently. This attribute is advantageous in situations that demand temperature stability, including electronic components and automobile parts.

Buoyancy: Less dense plastics have a lower specific gravity than water, allowing them to float. This characteristic is essential for the design of flotation devices, marine equipment, and water sports gear.

Transparency: Low-density plastics are often more transparent than their high-density counterparts due to the reduced molecular packing. This property is vital for applications that require clear visibility, such as food packaging and eyewear lenses.

Processability: Low-density plastics are generally easier to process, as they have lower melting points and require less energy for molding. Consequently, they are more cost-effective for mass production, usually through injection molding, particularly in applications where strength and durability are not primary concerns.

Barrier properties: Plastic material density can impact its resistance to gas and moisture permeation. High-density materials generally exhibit superior barrier properties, making them suitable for preserving perishable goods or protecting sensitive electronics.

Fascinating Read – Melting Point of Plastics | The Ultimate Guide


Below you’ll find commonly asked questions that delve deeper into plastic density. Let’s examine them.

What are the 7 types of plastic?

Below are 7 types of plastics:

  1.  Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
  2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)
  4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  5. Polypropylene (PP)
  6. Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)
  7. Other.

What is the density of a bottle cap made from polypropylene?

Plastic bottle caps made from polypropylene have a density of 0.92 grams per cubic centimeter, lighter than seawater’s average density of 1.027 grams per cubic centimeter, and float in seawater.

Which is the toughest plastic in the world?

Polycarbonate is the toughest plastic in the world in terms of impact strength. It is said to be 200 times stronger than glass.

Why is density in plastic critical?

Because the bulk densities of all the plastic materials differ, plastic processors often measure productivity based on weight. Therefore, calculating the amount (kilograms or tons) of plastic materials through their equipment matters greatly.

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The Conclusion 

In summary, the density of plastic plays an indispensable role in many applications, impacting material performance, sustainability, and cost-efficiency. Although the wide range of available polymers offers various density profiles, optimizing density is crucial for achieving targeted functionalities—buoyancy in marine applications or durability in automotive parts.

Advanced computational modeling techniques can predict and customize density properties, deviating from traditional trial-and-error methods. Moving forward, a multi-disciplinary approach combining material science, engineering, and technology will be pivotal in developing high-performance, lower-density plastics that meet the escalating demands of the modern world.

That’s it from my end. The content comes from me. Kindly leave any questions or feedback in the comments area below.

3 thoughts on “The Density Of Plastics | The Complete Guide”

  1. I need to establish a density gradient column to test incoming ABS resin pellets. I am new at setting up density columns. Would you be able to provide input on my questions below?
    If ABS density range is 1.02-1.21, what mixture do you reccomend? I was thinking water/Sodium Bromide (1.0-1.41). In what form do you reccomend I purchase the Sodium Bromide; liquid Solution, or granular? If granular, is there a specific method/technique you reccomend for preparing the Sodium Bromide? Are you aware of a specific distributor/vendor that specializes in the sale of sodium bromide for density columns?


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