Cross-Linked Polyethylene

A Closed-Cell Polyethylene

Polyethylene, or PE, is the most common plastic on the planet. Specifically, it’s made when ethylene monomers are bonded together and then become stabilized to form a plastic. But because of the polymerization process involved with polyethylene, its characteristics can vary greatly, thereby dividing PE into several sub categories. One of these sub categories is polyethylene foam – and one type of polyethylene foam, characterized by its closed-cell makeup, is cross-linked polyethylene foam, or XLPE. This page will cover the basics of XLPE foam, as well as its properties and the applications where it is commonly used.

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Cross-Linked Polyethylene

Compression molding and thermoforming are common fabricating methods used when creating components, packaging and products from cross-linked polyethylene foams. These fabrication methods provide a unique finish that is aesthetically pleasing while still providing the necessary cushioning and support required.

Cross-linked polyethylene foam is a closed-cell foam characterized by a compact feel and resistance to water. It has many of the same properties as polyethylene foam but also has the ability to protect class “A” surfaces and is consequently used extensively in the packaging of medical products and equipment.

Characteristics of Polyethylene

In many ways, cross-linked polyethylene foam is similar to standard polyethylene foam. It features many of the same properties, can be fabricated via thermoforming and compression molding and is used for many of the same purposes, like product packaging. But there are also several notable differences between regular PE foam and XLPE. For instance:

• A Compact Feel
• Water-Resistant
• Adequate to Protect Class A Surfaces
• High Quality Finish
• Provides Support and Cushioning

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Common Applications

The above sponge-like qualities make reticulated polyurethane foam useful in so many industries and in a variety of ways.

• Medical Packaging
• Military Grade Tool Control
• Orthopedics
• Helmet Lining
• Case Inserts

• Electric Cables
• Oil Applications
• Alternative to PVC or Copper Tubing
• HVAC / Pipe Wrap

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