Types of Polyethylene Used in Pipe Manufacturing

Plastic colored pipes in a warehouse

Pipes are an essential component of residential and commercial plumbing systems and various industrial sectors. There are currently various material options for pipes for different applications. Polyethylene (PE) is, however, the most popular material.

This material is a thermoplastic polymer that has a flexible crystalline structure making it ideal for a broad range of uses.

The choice to use a polyethylene pipe is beneficial for its corrosion and fatigue resistance, leak-free joining, extended service life, eco-friendliness and trenchless installation option. There are several polyethylene materials used for manufacturing pipes. Here are the three primary ones.

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

This is an extremely flexible material with unique flow properties. LDPE, however, has a low tensile strength evidenced by its tendency to stretch when under strain. Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) is a variant of LDPE with a few altered formula constituents designed to boost its tensile strength. LLDPE and LDPE are typically used for low-pressure flow applications.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

This is the most common material used in PE pipe manufacture. HDPE is a high-density, strong and moderately stiff material with a highly crystalline structure. These properties make HDPE pipes the go-to choice for the oil and gas, telecommunications, and electrical industries as well as sprinkler, chemical and sewer systems.

Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW)

This is an extremely dense type of polyethylene. You can spin it to greater strengths, compared with steel and other high-strength piping materials. UHMW polyethylene pipes are unfortunately quite expensive and hence generally used for only conveying fluids at incredibly high pressure.

These polyethylene materials are all non-toxic and safe for food handling, unlike other plastic pipe materials. Although generally more expensive, the benefits of polyethylene pipes make it worth the cost. Regardless of your application, you are sure to get the polyethylene pipe you need.