Low density polyethylene or LDPE is a thermoplastic polymer from the olefinic family, consisting of multiple ethylene units. It has high strength and flexibility and is used in the manufacture of many products and parts. The main difference between high-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene is precisely the molecular density (a density of around 0.910-0.940 g/cm³). Low-density polyethylene is made up of highly branched structures, which makes it less dense, whereas the molecules of high-density polyethylene are hardly branched at all.
Characteristics of LDPE plastic
Low density polyethylene is characterised by the following:
- This polymer undoubtedly stands out for its flexibility, which sets it apart from high-density polyethylene.
- It has good resistance to extreme temperatures (it can withstand temperatures of 80ºC continuously and 95ºC for short periods of time), impact and chemicals.
- It is a milky white material which, depending on thickness, can become almost transparent, making it difficult to print, glue or paint on.
- It is an easy material to process by methods such as injection moulding or extrusion.
Applications and uses
This type of material is used for the manufacture of plastic bags and sacks, as well as the production of transparent film, both domestic and industrial. Other parts or products in which LDPE can be found include pipes, toys, cables, plastic containers and caps, detergent containers, etc.
It is a recyclable material, which is assigned the Plastic Identification Code 4. However, it cannot be recycled more than 6 or 7 times, since during the different reprocessing cycles the material undergoes modifications.
Its recovery rate is around 35%, although it is the second most processed plastic material in the European Union.
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