IS POLYWOOD The Same As HDPE?
What Is The Difference Between POLYWOOD And HDPE?
POLYWOOD is a furniture brand; HDPE is the primary material used by this furniture brand to make outdoor furniture. People often mistake the two because ‘poly wood’ is similar to Poly lumber, a product of HDPE.
However, POLYWOOD is a brand that produces outdoor furniture from lumber made from high-density polyethylene. So let us explore the brand and this material so that you can understand it more deeply.
Who Is POLYWOOD?
POLYWOOD lumber is manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a durable plastic widely used to make milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, bottle caps, etc.
POLYWOOD Company currently recycles an average of 400,000 ocean-bound and landfill-bound plastic containers per day and transforms them into genuine POLYWOOD lumber.
They primarily sourced recyclable plastics from local and regional partners when they adopted in-house recycling.
As they double down on our commitment to stop plastics from ever reaching our oceans, they have expanded the recycling process to incorporate globally-sourced ocean-bound plastic into their on-site plastic recycling center.
POLYWOOD transforms truckloads of recycled plastic into genuine HDPE lumber, which they then use to construct a wide array of all-weather furniture.
Since the 1950s, the large-scale production of single-use plastic has rapidly increased. However, plastic is extremely slow to degrade — scientists still don’t know precisely how long plastics will exist after they end up in a landfill.
At POLYWOOD, they recycle high-density polyethylene, a highly durable type of plastic you’ll find all around the home in the form of milk jugs, detergent containers, shampoo bottles, and lotion bottles, cleaner spray bottles, etc.
The best thing about high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is that it can be infinitely recycled. So these materials are very environmentally friendly. But you will learn more about the material further.
POLYWOOD lumber includes UV-inhibited pigment systems to help maintain the lumber colors throughout the material, not just on the surface. Currently, the brand produces all types of outdoor poly lumber furniture through an on-site design department.
What Is HDPE?
There are six major types of plastic, and HDPE is one of them. This strong plastic is a popularly used petroleum thermoplastic that sees various applications. It is known for its tensile strength, high-impact resistance, and melting point.
Under a microscope, HDPE has a linear structure with a low degree of branching, which contributes to its strength. Manufacturers derive this plastic by modifying a natural gas such as ethane, propane, methane, or a mix. They can also derive it by catalytic cracking of crude oil into gasoline.
Key Properties of HDPE
The primary properties of this plastic are:
- The density of 0.93 to 0.97 g/cm3 (grams per centimeter cubed)
- A melting point of 120 to 140oC
- Continuous temperature of -50oC to +60oC
- High tensile strength
- Excellent electrical insulating properties
- Low water absorption
- Polymer with good processability
- Notable low-temperature resistance
- Excellent resistance to multiple solvents
- Moderate renaissance to oils and grease
- Impressive resistance to dilute acids, alkalis, and alcohols
- Poor resistance to hydrocarbons
Advantages of HDPE
HDPE is relatively inexpensive to make, which lowers the overall cost of production. Thus, this material is easy to acquire, making it cost-efficient. Additionally, HDPE is endlessly recyclable making it readily available boosting its affordability.
The key properties of HDPE outline it as a highly resistant material. For starters, it is resistant to moisture and therefore useful for applications where moisture resistance is essential for end product durability. Secondly, this material has excellent chemical resistance to organic solvents, electrolyte attacks, and degreasing agents. HDPE is also UV-resistant and can resist damage from mold, mildew, rot, and oxidation.
HDPE can also withstand high stress without cracking and breaking. That is why people drop HDPE containers without any repercussions. It would take significant force to break HDPE.
Since HDPE is a thermoplastic, it comprises a string of ethylene molecules. Thus it has a lightweight feel but is also very strong. This makes it the ideal material for manufacturing portable containers.
This plastic is famously recyclable. All plastic comes with a recycling symbol printed on the bottom with a number to indicate recyclability. HDPE has the symbol and #2, meaning that end consumers can recycle it. In fact, many industries use recycled HDPE to make products such as piping and furniture.
HDPE has a high melting point, making it durable against high temperatures due to its inherent malleability. However, when it reaches its melting point, this material becomes the perfect canvas to mold and use for various applications. It is why so many manufacturers favor this high-quality plastic.
And finally, the moldability and beneficial properties make this plastic versatile. Manufacturers use it for an array of small and large-scale applications. You will find it in the packaging, plumbing, and furniture industries to mention a few.
Shortcomings of HDPE
While HDPE is a good material, it is not free from defects that make it less ideal for some applications. Some of the challenges manufacturers and end-consumers face with HDPE are:
- Low stiffness compared to polypropylene. While HDPE is strong, it is not indestructible. The material will change shape with enough pressure, proving it has low stiffness compared to polypropylene. Due to high stiffness, polypropylene applications include twine, rope, tapes, clothing, and even camping equipment.
- Difficult to bond.HDPE is a notoriously tough plastic to glue. Interestingly, one of its desirable properties paradoxically makes it difficult to bond without welding it. Its high abrasion resistance helps with durability but makes it difficult to glue. Manufacturers must weld or use specialized glues, nails, and screws to bond HDPE.
- Susceptible to some elements. HDPE is not resistant to oxidizing agents and chlorinated hydrocarbons. This can be a crucial disadvantage for manufacturers using chlorine and hydrogen peroxide in various industries.
- Non-compostable. And finally, HDPE is recyclable but cannot decompose naturally. Nor can it yield safe, non-toxic end products after decommission. It is why experts recommend endless recycling of HDPE.
Uses of HDPE
HDPE makes an appearance as a primary raw material in the following industries:
HDPE is a high-quality plastic with excellent resistance and toughness. It is no surprise that brands like POLYWOOD use HDPE to manufacture high-quality outdoor furniture. The furniture promises high resistance to water, sun exposure, insects, and chemical spills. The furniture does not stain and can last years without needing repair. More than that, the furniture comes in attractive colors and designs thanks to the availability of HDPE in various colors, plus easy moldability.
HDPE’s resistance to corrosion makes it an ideal material for the plumbing industry. It is also resistant to mold and rotting. So, manufacturers use it to produce durable piping for industrial and residential applications.
HDPE is primarily useful in the packaging industry, specifically applications that require a lot of moisture and chemical resistance. Therefore, you are sure to find HDPE bottles for detergents, soaps, and motor oil. HDPE also makes durable storage containers such as reusable plastic bottles, crates, trays, and food boxes. It also makes industrial-sized water tanks and jerry cans.
Because HDPE is highly resistant, durable, and strong, it is the perfect material for making plastic automobile parts such as fuel reservoirs.
Because of the strength and durability of this material, manufacturers use it to make various consumer goods that see long-term use. For example, HDPE makes recycle bins, chopping boards, toys, buckets, and even some plastic appliances.
The versatility of HDPE expands to recreational equipment. You will find this material in constructing playground equipment such as swings and slides. Additionally, it can make some fitness equipment.
Manufacturers recognize the durability and moldability of HDPE. Therefore, it is making significant contributions to the construction industry. HDPE can create durable and stylish floor tiles that give end consumers years of use. It also makes an appearance in shelf construction in homes and commercial spaces.
Because of the high tensile strength of HDPE, manufacturers in the textile industry are using it for various applications such as fishing nets, fabrics, and even some types of rope.
How Does HDPE Become Furniture?
HDPE furniture comes from recycled HDPE. The process aims to create high-quality furniture with little impact on the environment.
It is a creative way to reduce plastic waste that would otherwise end up in the ocean. Many plastic furniture manufacturers recycle the plastic themselves and turn it into furniture at their facility. The process is as follows:
The machines will sort the plastics according to various characteristics, including color, thickness, and type. This ensures that only HDPE plastics make it into the final product. It also guarantees proper recycling of the various types of plastics. This process ensures zero contamination, resulting in high-quality poly furniture. However, some furniture brands do not have this step as they receive pre-sorted plastic.
Washing removes impurities from the recycled plastic. Items such as labels, dirt, particles, and adhesives separate from the HDPE, making it possible to manufacture the end products. Without the washing stage, impurities could end up in the final poly furniture product, affecting its visual appeal and durability. Some manufacturers ensure that the plastic undergoes multiple washing stages for quality products.
The plastic then goes into shredders that chop the plastic into smaller pieces or shaped particles. It makes the plastic easier to work with and mold into different shapes. Shredding also helps identify any impurities that may have passed the washing stage. Some manufacturers use magnets to look for metallic components. It is easier to process shredded plastic.
Before this, the plastic may also undergo separation through air classification. This determines their thickness since thinner pieces will fly up while the thick ones remain in the lower levels. Each batch undergoes analysis to assess quality. On the other hand, compounding involves tuning the plastic into pellets through melting. Some facilities receive the plastic ready to undergo shaping into poly lumber at this stage.
Preparation of the pellets involves melting them down and mixing them with colorants, UV stabilizers, and foaming agents through extrusion. It significantly improves the appearance of the end product and also gives it structural stability that makes it highly resistant to external elements. The pellets come out as a long unstable board that is easy to mold.
Molding is a process by which the board goes through unique molds to produce various shapes. The molds also go through a series of cooling tanks that transform the HDPE into a solid-state. This stage is ideal for creating pallets that will make different furniture parts.
The polishing stage is ideal for giving the lumber a protective seal or coat. This coat makes it suitable for withstanding the harsh outdoor conditions for years. It also improves the appearance of the poly lumber to create visually-appealing items.
An automated saw then cuts the poly lumber into workable pieces. These pieces are what the assembly line uses to make the poly furniture.
This stage sees hand or machine drilling of the furniture pieces to create space for fasteners and metallic hardware. It ensures assembly is precise, creating practical and stable products.
And finally, all good poly furniture manufacturers test their products to ensure they are free from deformities. It also ensures they can withstand the harsh outdoor conditions for years.
Like POLYWOOD, we are a leading supplier of HDPE furniture made from recycled plastics. Our manufacturing process is simple and precise but guarantees high-quality products at an affordable price.
You can count on us to produce high-quality HDPE furniture such as Adirondack chairs, swings, benches, stools, couches, and more. Through our partnership, you will become a trusted retailer of high-quality poly furniture.
Our prices are affordable, and we can customize them to meet various requests. Contact us today and start the process of transforming your business. We are ready to partner with you.