UHMW stands for ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. Polyethylene materials are semi-crystalline materials with excellent chemical resistance, good fatigue and wear resistance, and a wide range of properties (due to differences in length of the polymer chain). Polyethylene materials are easy to distinguish from other plastics because they float in water. They provide good resistance to organic solvents, degreasing agents, and electrolytic attack. They have a higher impact strength, but lower working temperatures and tensile strengths than polypropylene. They are also light in weight, resistant to staining, and have low moisture absorption rates.
Light weight (1/8 the weight of mild steel), high in tensile strength, and as simple to machine as wood, UHMW PE is the ideal material for many wear parts in machinery and equipment, as well as a superb lining in material handling systems and storage containers. UHMW PE is self-lubricating, shatter-resistant, long-wearing, and abrasion and corrosion resistant. It meets FDA acceptance for food and pharmaceutical equipment and is a good performer in applications up to 180 °F (82 °C) or when periodically cleaned with live steam or boiling water to sterilize.