Polyethylene is polyolefin. Polyolefins are high molecular weight hydrocarbons. Polyolefins include linear low density polyethylene, low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene, polypropylene copolymer, polypropylene, and polymethyl pentene. These are the only plastics that have a lower specific gravity than water. This means that they weigh less than water. These materials can become brittle from oxidation and are damaged by exposure to UV light.
When ethylene is polymerized the result is relatively straight polymer chains. From the main chain they can branch out. We get different kinds of Polyethylenes from the varying degree of branching in their molecular structure. Below are brief descriptions on how the polyethylene differ from each other.
LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) has the most excessive branching. This causes the low density to have a less compact molecular structure which is what makes it less dense. It has a density of 0.91-0.925g/cm3.
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) has minimal branching of its’ polymer chains. Because it is denser it is more rigid and less permeable then the LDPE. It has a density of 0.941-0.965g/cm3.
Besides vinyl, latex, and nitrile gloves, two new kinds of gloves have begun to grow in popularity: cast polyethylene (CPE) gloves and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) gloves.
CPE(Chlorinated Polyethylene) gloves are made of polyethylene, a kind of resin (i.e., organic compound) created during the polymerization process of ethynylene.
Polyethylene is known as a “commodity” resin since it can be produced in high volumes at low costs. It’s also the most commonly used kind of plastic in the world.
Many other products are made of polyethylene including food wrap, detergent bottles, and shopping bags, among others.
CPE gloves offer many positive benefits – most notably their durability. They also tend to weigh more in grams than TPE gloves.
TPE(THERMOPLASTIC ELASTOMER) gloves are made of thermoplastic elastomers, polymers that can be molded more than once when heated. Thermoplastic elastomers also have the same elasticity as rubber.
Industrial fabricators classify thermoplastic elastomers as “specialty” plastic resins for two reasons. Firstly, they’re produced at lower volumes than “commodity” resins like polyethylene and at higher costs as well. Secondly, they’re used for more specialized applications than “commodity” resins.
Besides TPE gloves, products including adhesives and footwear are manufactured using thermoplastic elastomers.
When to Use CPE or TPE Gloves, If you’re a wholesaler or distributor who works with food service and food processing customers, we recommend that you get in touch with your trusted glove partner if you’re evaluating TPE and/or CPE gloves as alternatives to vinyl or latex gloves. They can help you select the best alternative solution(s) for your specific applications.