Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE)

Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW) is a subset of the thermoplastic polyethylene. Also known as high-modulus polyethylene, (HMPE), or high-performance polyethylene (HPPE), it has extremely long chains, with a molecular mass usually between 2 and 6 million u. The longer chain serves to transfer load more effectively to the polymer backbone by strengthening intermolecular interactions. This results in a very tough material, with the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic presently made.

UHMWPE is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic. It is highly resistant to corrosive chemicals except oxidizing acids; has extremely low moisture absorption and a very low coefficient of friction; is self-lubricating; and is highly resistant to abrasion, in some forms being 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel. Its coefficient of friction is significantly lower than that of nylon and acetal, and is comparable to that of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon), but UHMWPE has better abrasion resistance than PTFE.

General Properties :
Physical Properties ASTM Test Method Units UHMWPE
Density D792 gm/cm3 0.926 – 0.934
Water absorption, D570 % Nil
Mechanical Properties ASTM Test Method Units UHMWPE
Tensile Strength at yield D638 MPa (ksi) 21 (3.1)
Tensile Strength at break D638 MPa (ksi) 48 (7.9)
Elongation at break D638 % 350
Young’s Modulus
At 23°C (73°F) D638 GPa (106 psi) 0.69 (0.10)
At -40°C (-450°F) D638 GPa (106 psi) 0.69 (0.10)
Izod Impact Strength
At -40°C (-450°F) D256 (a) kJ/m (ft. lb/in.)
1.1 (21)
At -40°C (-450°F) D256 (a) kJ/m (ft. lb/in.)
1.1 (21)
Hardness, Shore D D2240 —- 62 – 66
Abrasion Resistance —- —- 100
Relative solution viscosity D4020 dL/g 2.3 – 3.5
Thermal Properties ASTM Test Method Units UHMWPE
Crystalline melting range,
°C (°F) 138 – 142 (280 – 289)
Electrical Properties ASTM Test Method Units UHMWPE
Volume Resistivity D257 ohm-cm 5 X 1014
Dielectric Strength D149 - 2.7
Dielectric Constant D150 - 0.001

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