UHMW-PE (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) simply known as “UHMW” is the most prolific industrial plastic in many sawmills and has a long history of success in many applications. Along with grades readily available from most plastic distributors, sawmills also utilize several grades where their primary use is in sawmill applications. The following is a primer on the different grades available and any strengths and weaknesses worth noting:
The lowest cost grade of UHMW and is widely used as wear strip. UHMW provides around 80% of the properties of natural at a reduced cost. Its weakness would be that it obviously has less physical properties and can have difficulty thermoforming properly.
Natural (white or black):
Natural is the baseline grade of UHMW and used almost anywhere UHMW can be found. It is important to note that the white natural is not UV stabilized, so using it outdoors is not optimal.
Titanium is the ultimate grade of UHMW – the slickest, strongest, most dimensionally stable and is UV-resistant. Titanium is a premium option and does particularly well as wear strip and chain channel insert. Its only drawback would be price and availability on certain sheet/rod/tube profiles.
Tivar 88/Tivar 88-2:
While primarily a hopper lining material, Tivar 88 is cross-linked for increased strength, weldable (Tivar 88-2), and UV-stable. It pops up in various applications including sharp chain bed.
The “clean” means no visible UHMW regrind in the recycled material and it is colored yellow. This material shows up most often as the standard chain channel insert grade but is also available in other colors (such as orange).
The best “pulp-safe” UHMW on the market with an excellent metal content and ratio. It is metal detectable and exists to avoid contamination issues in pulp mills. Synsteel has been adapted to a number of applications outside of the sawmill industry especially as fenders, mud flaps, and other heavy-duty UHMW applications.
For more information on the grades of UHMW available, MSDS and property data sheets click here.