Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene aka UHMW is one of the most commonly used thermoplastics materials in the world. There are many reasons for this, but most engineers love UHMW for its excellent abrasion resistance, low coefficient of friction and it's tremendous impact resistance.
Standard High Density Polyethylene has a molecular weight of between 10,000 and 100,000. UHMW has a molecular weight of between 3,000,000 - 6,000,000. The extra molecular weight of UHMW give it special properties that allow the UHMW materials to perform well where lower molecular weights fail. Abrasion, chemical, and impact resistance are all areas that the higher molecular weight flexes it muscles.
UHMW has an extremely wide array of uses, and is found in nearly every industry. To list just a few, UHMW is found in body joint replacements, gears, packaging machines, dump truck liners, bearings, and synthetic ice.
UHMW is widely used in the food industry, and in general comes with FDA approval. It is important to note, though, that not all UHMW is FDA approved. Be sure and check with your plastic dealer or material manufacture before putting it to use in food applications.
Yes and no. In general UHMW is not weldable, but there are a number a UHMW materials on the market that can be welded. Make sure to ask for weldable UHMW specifically when looking to order it from your plastics dealer.
UHMW can be found in nearly any color! Most commonly you will find UHMW stocked in virgin natural (white) and black, but material manufactures have many other colors available purchase.
The typical properties of UHMW can be found here
It is important to note that these are generic properties and you should request to see that material manufacturer's data sheet to verify any given property.