Thermoforming is a common method for producing plastic components. It involves heating thermoplastic material to its workable temperature and forcing it into a mold, where it takes a specific shape. Vacuum forming uses vacuum pressure to suck the thermoplastic more tightly against the mold to improve consistency and detail.
Polyethylene is among the most common thermoformed plastics because of its versatility across many applications. Here we’ll explain polyethylene thermoforming, the different types of polyethylene, and their applications.
What Is Polyethylene (PE)?
Polyethylene (PE) is a plastic polymer popular for its cost-effectiveness and versatility. PE is a variable crystalline thermoplastic that is easy to process and mold into different shapes. There are many different grades, types, and formulations of polyethylene, but the most common types fall into three categories: linear, branched, and cross-linked polyethylenes.
The most popular types of linear PE are high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), while linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) are the most popular branched types.
This polyethylene is popular for its high impact strength, excellent weather ability, and electrical insulation. Semi-rigid and flexible, LDPE also exhibits unique flow characteristics suitable for making plastic films and shopping bags.
This polyethylene is flexible and resists cracking stress, and chemicals. Like LDPE, LLDPE exhibits high impact strength and is often used to produce films. LLDPE is less labor-intensive to produce than LDPE, and it can be easily changed by altering its formula.
This polyethylene is different from LDPE and LLDPE in that it has a linear structure and almost no branching. Although HDPE is flexible, it exhibits distinct rigid properties and has high tensile strength. The material is also weather-resistant and can withstand low temperatures. Applications of HDPE include making cutting boards, garbage bins, and milk bottles.
This polyethylene is extremely dense and can be made stronger than steel. UHMWPE has great mechanical properties and is inert, making it an ideal material in corrosive environments. Its common applications include making high-performance equipment such as bulletproof vests.
Polyethylene Thermoforming Applications
Below are the common applications of polyethylene thermoforming:
- Agricultural equipment: panels, sprayer shells, roofs, livestock housings, feed containers
- Medical equipment: joint replacements, covers for ventilators and IV pumps
- Electronic housings: touch screens, plasma displays
- OEM equipment covers
- Electrical switches and connectors
- Plastic packaging and containers
- Tubes and profiles
Polyethylene Thermoforming Services From Lerner Molded Plastics
Thermoforming and vacuum forming are important for many industries, including the packaging, automotive, medical, and transportation industries. If you’re looking for precision thermoforming services for your project, look no further than Lerner Molded Plastics. We’re a one-stop-shop for all your thermoforming needs and offer other secondary services such as barcoding, labeling, part decorating, warehousing, distribution, and logistics.