There seems to be a lot of curiosity about this long acronym recently. Over the last few years, UHMWPE has received increasing attention from the protective clothing world and many other industries. We want to shed some light on what UHMWPE is and why it is attracting so much attention. UHMWPE stands for ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, which is a type of thermoplastic polyethylene. It is incredibly strong because it comprises extremely long polyethylene chains, which are all aligned in the same direction. It is much stronger than steel because of this characteristic. Manufacturers of abrasion-resistant clothing use UHMWPE to make moto and other sports gear. But it is a lot more than a strong fabric, and it has some features which set it aside from the competition. Let’s find out more about this material and why it is essential in the protective clothing world.
What are the different uses of UHMWPE?
UHMWPE is a lot more than a motorcycle gear fabric and finds its use in many contexts. It is widely adopted in the manufacture of vehicle armor as well as personal armor, such as cut-resistant gloves and climbing equipment. The sports industry in general also makes use of this material, popular in the manufacture of parachutes, fishing lines, yachting, fencing, and kite sports.
This material goes a lot further than extreme sports. In fact, it is also widely adopted in the military and the manufacture of medical equipment. It is certified to be non-toxic, and it is one of the safest synthetic materials available to patients. Its level of tolerability for a vast number of conditions is very high. For example, several materials have been used for hip and knee replacements, some with more success than others. UHMWPE has proven to be an excellent choice and has caused virtually no complications if utilized correctly by highly skilled professionals.
People often ask how far do UHMWPE resistance claims go and if they have solid foundations. Many are skeptical about its strength because of its relatively low weight. Don’t be fooled; this is one of the most robust materials you can find. It has ballistic characteristics, and it is also widely resistant to sharp edges. This is the reason why it is also commonly adopted in the manufacture of bulletproof vests.
Last but not least, UHMWPE is a powerful ally in the manufacture of PVC. This can then be used to make windows and doors; it can also be utilized for seals, wires, cables, and various insulation equipment.
Why is it used in Abrasion Resistant Clothing?
We have already seen how UHMWPE performs as an excellent abrasion-resistant material, making it an obvious choice for abrasion-resistant and every protective clothing. Furthermore, UHMWPE has no odor and is non-toxic. In a world where the use of plastics is increasing rapidly, it is important to find some which are safe for use in the long term. Several tests have shown that UHMWPE is highly resistant to many corrosive chemicals and impact abrasion. In the motorcycle apparel world, UHMWPE is more commonly known as Dyneema. This is a proprietary material that was very first seen in the late 1960s. Since then, the material has continuously been studied and developed further. It has become a well-respected name in the motorcycle world and further. It is also popular in skiing equipment, climbing, parachuting, just to name a few. You will find Dyneema equipment in virtually any type of outdoor sports gear.
Aside from its popularity, Dyneema possesses a number of qualities that make it an ideal candidate in the manufacture of protective motorcycle apparel. It has an extreme hardness, which we know is a key factor for safety considerations. In practice, this means that it is possible to use less material compared to other fabrics in the market and still obtain the same level of protection. Dyneema also has good chemical resistance and abrasion resistance having a very low coefficient of friction. It is able to withstand impact impressively, and it is highly water-resistant. In fact, the material has one of the lowest rates of moisture absorption.
As we have seen, its safety characteristics have been well established, but many customers wonder about the actual wearability of UHMWPE. Surprisingly, this fabric is reported to be even more versatile than nylon. It also feels very light when worn, which allows for optimal comfort and range of movement. We have already said that a smaller amount of material is required to obtain the same level of protection, which largely increases the feeling of wearability. Last but not least, Dyneema (or UHMWPE) is relatively easy to fabricate. It is widely available to manufacturers who can be creative in its applications and uses. It is fair to say that Dyneema has somehow revolutionized the apparel world, and not just in terms of protective apparel. UHMWPE is so versatile that it finds applications in the mechanical industry and even in the world of fashion. The most common uses of Dyneema include the manufacture of jackets, denim, and shoes.
How resistant UHMWPE is?
Its highly protective qualities are due to the meticulous manufacture of the material. In fact, for protective motorcycle gear specifically, UHMWPE fibers are aligned and bonded together to start, then various layers are put one on top of the other at different angles. The result is a material that is strong and resistant in all directions. UHMWPE has been put through several tests to verify its resistance. It has consistently performed well against other materials. The material doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t tear, and it holds its characteristics well.
UHMWPE is extremely durable and has proven not to deteriorate under extreme weather conditions. The material doesn’t lose any of its strength when exposed to UV light, even for long periods. Frigid temperatures are also not a problem; the rider can feel safe and protected with the right type of gear.
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