What is HDPE Material? | The Ultimate Guide

what is HDPE material

What is HDPE Material?

High-Density Polyethylene, aka HDPE, is a trendy thermoplastic material made from petroleum. HDPE is known for its excellent tensile strength, high melting point, low cost, and good impact strength. Because of such impressive properties, HDPE can be used in various applications like milk jugs, plastic bottles, beach bottles, cutting boards, and piping.

The melting point of HDPE is 130°C thus, making it easy to fabricate and weld using standard thermoplastic welding equipment, mainly available in sheet and rod forms.

Accessible welding properties and versatility make HDPE the right choice for manufacturing more oversized plastic products like water tanks and chemical tanks, which are difficult to manufacture without using high-grade plastic material. HDPE density is also impressive, catering to plastic manufacturers looking to

HDPE is also available in multiple additional grades. It can be utilized to manufacture various products from many categories like FDA-compliant cutting boards, disinfectants for medical facilities, woodgrain texture for the outdoor environment, etc.

HDPE Properties 

Enhanced Stiffness HDPE

Conventionally, used for applications that are supposed to last for a long time (at least 8 to 10 years). It offers maximum flatness and consistency and is 25% thicker compared to the original HDPE material.

UV Stabilized grade HDPE

It does exactly what it sounds like. Typically, 25% to 30% lighter than the original HDPE is mainly utilized to resist UV and water exposure.

Those properties and availability in the sheet form make this HDPE a prime choice for manufacturing marine products, water tanks, playgrounds, outdoor cabinetry, etc.

Cutting Board grade HDPE

This HDPE Material is extensively used for manufacturing food-related products, primarily in food storage space. It meets all the FDA requirements to directly or indirectly contact food and related items.

It is resistant to hot water, and cleaning chemicals come with no absorption ability for moisture. Those properties make it perfect for F&B Sector.

Antimicrobial HDPE

Antimicrobial HDPE has a unique resistance property towards bacteria, algae, and fungi. What makes it resistant to them is its unique molecular configuration.

This HDPE is bonded at a molecular level, so it retains its usefulness for a prolonged period of time. It also works and blends well with woodworking tools, which makes it strong and durable.

The durability makes this HDPE an excellent choice to be implemented in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, medical carts, etc.

The unique property of resistance to bacteria and algae is helping this HDPE material steadily increase its presence in the retail industry, where showcasing and storing products for a long time is a crucial part of their business.

Engravable HDPE

The UV-stabilized HDPE is durable, weather-resistant, and available in sheet form, effortlessly blending with machines. This HDPE material comes in multiple color options.

The colors are reliable, long-lasting, and don’t need additional painting or refinishing. That color-holding nature makes it applicable to produce carnival equipment, number plates, toys, and children’s furniture.

WoodGrain HDPE

WoodGrain HDPE is known for being easily operable with essential woodworking equipment and for negligible maintenance. It comes with an authentic woodgrain color and is flexible enough to be shaped for desired objects.

Colors can be changed on every sheet. No worries about rotting, chipping, and eliminating. Suitable for outdoor applications construction and related products, furniture, and playgrounds.

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Below are the general properties of HDPE Material:

Property Unit


Melting Point °C 126 – 135
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion x 10-5
cm / (cm °C) 12.5 – 18.0
Density g mL-1 0.955 – 0.961
Heat Deflection Temperature, 0.5 MPa
°C 64 – 77
Heat Deflection Temperature, 1.8 MPa (unannealed)
°C 76.5 – 78
55 – 67
Tensile Strength, Yield at 23 C
MPa 23.0 – 29.5
Tensile Strength, Break at 23 C
MPa 30.5 – 33
Tensile Modulus at 23 C
MPa 900 – 1550
Flexural Modulus MPa 970- 1380
Flexural Strength, Yield
Izod Notched J/m (kJ/m2) 71 – 159 (20)
Electrical Properties
V/mm x 104 2.1 – 3.5
Dielectric Constant @ 1 MHz
2.2 – 2.4
Volume Resistivity
Ohm-cm 6 x 1015
Dissipation Factor @ 1 MHz
0.0001 – 0.0005
Other Properties
Continuous Service Temperature
°C -73 – 82
Water Absorption, 24 hr. Immersion
% 0.01 – 0.03
Linear Mold Shrinkage
cm/cm MPa

Advantages of HDPE Material 

advantages of HDPE material

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) has several benefits for both the manufacturer and buyer. Let’s discuss some of them.

HDPE is corrosion-resistant, making it suitable to produce essential public infrastructure like underground piping as it wouldn’t rust from weather effects and is long-lasting. Sterilization of HDPE makes it perfect for food and beverage storage containers.

Easy malleability and moldability are other standout features of HDPE material as it increases its applications substantially. The material is rigid and has an impressive melting point of 210 to 270°C. However, once it melts, it can be utilized in producing a lot of products like water tanks, cutting boards, detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, pipings, etc.

HDPE material has a fabulous strength-to-density ratio of 0.93 to 0.97 g (it might not seem a lot compared to LDPE, but there’s a catch). When seen under a microscope, HDPE molecular structure differs from LDPE. It has a linear system with little branching, which results in a more robust molecular structure and greater tensile strength. That’s the reason why a 60-gram HDPE cup can hold about a gallon of liquid without any bending.

HDPE is an easily recyclable material. Recyclability is an essential factor, especially these days when the global carbon footprint is on the rise. Recycling HDPE can save up to 50% of your material cost, and no worries about quality, as recycled HDPE material is said to be as good as “virgin” material.

Disadvantages of HDPE Material 

Disadvantages of HDPE

Although there are a few HDPE disadvantages, I still want to shed some light on them.

  • High flammability
  • Considerably, high thermal expansion.
  • Non-resistant to chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • Non-resistant to oxidizing acids


Fantastic mechanical properties make HDPE suitable for many high-end applications across various industries.

  • Consumer Goods 
  • Packaging Applications 
  • Fibers and Textiles 

Consumer Goods

consumer goods - HDPE

HDPE’s inexpensiveness and easy processability with injection molding and extrusion molding make it a highly usable consumer goods application.

Products like kitchen wares, ice trays, food and packaging, dustbins, etc.

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Packaging Applications

Packaging Applications - HDPE

Impact strength and reasonable chemical resistance help HDPE polyethylene with applications in industrial bulk containers, jerry cans, drums, fruit juices, crates, bottles for keeping liquid foods, etc.

Fibers and Textiles

High tensile strength and easy processability boost HDPE’s competitiveness for manufacturing products like industrial and decorative fabrics, fishing and sports net, ropes, nets, etc.

Other applications include fuel tanks – for the automobile industry, wires, and cables, pipes for drainage, industrial uses, cable protection, large inspection chambers, gas, water, sea downspout, etc.

The Future of HDPE Material

The future of high-density Polyethylene seems bright as a study conducted by Market Research Future states that it can show a CAGR growth of 4.21% until 2023(Despite the Covid-19 pandemic virtually stopping the global manufacturing industry).

The injection molding method is the most significant contributor to HDPE products in the market, with almost a quarter of the market share. HDPE is also extensively utilized by manufacturing firms used for safeguarding goods in storage. Given the ever-rising demand for packaging films, the thin-film applications of HDPE are expected to witness exponential growth in the future.

Two things will work in the HDPE’s favor – the first is it is utilized in both making flexible and rigid packaging. Second, increasing awareness against single-use plastics is expected further to build up a healthy business ecosystem for HDPE and, in turn, benefit the manufacturers.

Expanding the packaging and automobile industry will keep the demand for HDPE steady worldwide (Especially in North America and Europe). Talking about the Asian market, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh will keep the momentum going with flourishing construction and automobile industries.

Another major industry giving a significant push to HDPE is E-commerce. People are more comfortable shopping online than ever before, which will drive the demand in developed and developing nations.

HDPE material is strong, rigid, and highly applicable; it can improve productivity and reduce costs.

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Why is HDPE used in hospitals?

There are several factors behind HDPE’s rapid adoption in hospitals and the medical industry in general. Its features, like high impact resistance, low moisture absorption, corrosion resistance, and resistance from chemicals, and most importantly, processing versatility, make it a go-to plastic material for the medical industry.

It does not splinter or rot, does not fade and retain bacteria, and is reasonably affordable, attracting hospitals to create reliable and cost-effective medical devices.

Can you microwave HDPE?

HDPE is safe and FDA-approved for food applications making it compatible with microwaves, and It has a tolerance of -40 to 266 degrees Fahrenheit before distortion. In the food packaging industry, HDPE is generally used for containers.

Can HDPE be boiled?

HDPE comes with an outstanding temperature range, and short periods of heating with up to 248°F (120°C) or for long periods up to 230°F (110°C) are considered safe. That makes the thermoplastic used in several food grade applications.

Which is stronger, HDPE or PVC?

The comparison is a bit unusual, and both materials are solid and rigid in their own right. Still, if we consider specific metrics, PVC is more robust and heavier in terms of brute strength, but HDPE is more rigorous and more heat and abrasion-resistant.

Is HDPE stronger than wood?

HDPE has been exhibited to be more stable than most plastics, wood, and even metals. It possesses excellent impact strength and can easily withstand your facility’s pressure and harsh scenarios. It won’t even scratch or dent, so you don’t need to keep replacements hands-on.

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The Takeaway 

In summary, HDPE is a versatile polymer that uses extensively in various industries such as construction, packaging, and healthcare. Its exceptional strength, chemical resistance, and durability make it suitable for these applications. Moreover, HDPE’s lightweight nature, ease of fabrication, and recyclability render it an environmentally sustainable option for many uses.

With technological advancements, it is anticipated that HDPE demand will increase further with the discovery of new applications. In essence, HDPE is a crucial asset to modern society and a significant contributor to sustainability.

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