So where did HDPE come from anyway?
Here is a brief history.
Formally, HDPE was invented in 1953 by Karl Ziegler of the Max Plank Institute and Erhard Holzkamp. They improved on a polymethylene (similar to a medium density PE) compound a German chemist developed in 1900. This original formula was improved on in 1935 and used during WW2 to insulate radar cables. The process to make HDPE is a controlled high pressure method, known as “cracking,” which creates ethylene gas. During its production, the gas molecules will attach to form polymers, which then produces polyethylene.
The first commercial application for HDPE was producing HDPE pipe. Since that time HDPE is used extensively for many grades of pipe including, gas pipe, fluid handling, etc. HDPE sheet was developed as a stronger, chemical resistant alternative to LDPE (low density polyethylene). Being stronger and more rigid than LDPE, has propelled HDPE to be one of the most commonly used plastic sheets in the world.
Today HDPE sheet has advanced to many variations which are engineered for specific applications. Who knows what the future holds for HDPE. What we do know, is there are science and technology advancements that open doors for new applications. Our lab is continually working with resin manufacturers to develop custom engineered HDPE sheet to fill market niches.