The versatility of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) resin puts it at the core of many strong, impact-resistant, puncture-resistant, and affordable LLDPE plastic products and product components that keep our foods fresh, our homes stocked, and our lives comfortable.
What is LLDPE and How Does It Stand Out?
LLDPE is one of the various polyethylene resin types which differ by thickness and flexibility.1 High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is the most robust and most chemical-resistant but not as flexible as LLDPE. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is very flexible but not as strong. LLDPE leverages the benefits of each: LLDPE characteristics offer flexibility akin to LDPE but strength closer to HDPE.
Individual polyethylenes are defined by the branching in their molecular structure.2 The less branching, the stronger the material. LDPE has the most excessive branching, making it less dense. HDPE has minimal branching.
By contrast, LLDPE has shorter and more branches than LDPE. That allows chains to slide against each other without becoming entangled like LDPE’s long-branching chains. And that creates more tensile strength and higher impact and puncture resistance.
Given those advantages, LLDPE has become a preferred resin for many modern-day applications.3 The versatility of polyethylene gives it a distinct advantage over other polymers such as polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride.
LLDPE Is Popular In The Plastic Film Segment
While LLDPE is a good choice for many end uses, LLDPE characteristics that create products that are both solid and thin help it stand out as a packaging film. Around 80% of LLDPE goes into film applications.4
LLDPE film applications include food and beverage packaging such as grocery bags and wraps for produce, cheeses, and meats. Other such applications can be liners for dairy cartons, cereal, or snack food boxes.
It’s also a stalwart resin for many non-food packaging needs, such as shrink and stretch film. Whether for food or not, many LLDPE film applications are produced through mono- or multi-layer blown film conversion processes.
LLDPE Plastic Products Are Everywhere
LLDPE makes many other everyday products used by many industries and consumers, including outdoor living products like garden tools, planters, heavy-duty sacks, and playground equipment. Other everyday life applications for LLDPE plastic include:
- Toys, bins, buckets, and plastic tanks.5
- Films of many uses: general-purpose, stretch film, garment packing, agricultural film, and more.6
- LLDPE tubing carrying air, water, or chemicals.7
LLDPE’s usefulness has fueled its growth in market share in film applications as well as in global production of the polymer.8 The global market size of LLDPE is forecast to see a CAGR of 3.4% through 2028,9 growing to $59 billion by then.10
LLDPE Rotomolding Benefits
While LLDPE is practical for use in various conversion processes, it offers distinct advantages in rotomolding operations.
Rotomolding produces a wide array of products: everything from bins and containers to toys and industrial parts.11 In fact, more than 95% of the rotomolding materials market is polyethylene.12 LLDPE is often used in rotomolding because it is durable yet forgiving.13 Polyethylenes like LLDPE have characteristics that make them the most widely used resin powders for rotomolding after being pulverized.
Preparation is vital for optimal rotomolding operations. It’s critical that converters ensure LLDPE resin powder is uniform, run thickness experiments with new molds, and carefully monitor equipment settings to ensure quality outcomes.
Optimize Opportunities With Shell Polymers
Converters need suppliers that help them capitalize on a wide array of opportunities. To that end, Shell Polymers will offer a wide range of products at its new polyethylene plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania. The plant will offer both LLDPE and HDPE, including various grades of LLDPE that cover the needs of many market segments.
Plus, the plant’s location is within 700 miles of most of the North American plastics industry. That makes it a strategic supply option for converters looking to strengthen and diversify their supply chains.
Shell Polymers also wants to be more than just a supplier of resin. We want to be a resource for business success. We will have the equipment and expertise to help customers troubleshoot their problems and maximize opportunities at the plant.
Our resources and facilities will include an applications hall, adjacent to the plant. There, customers will be able to use cutting-edge commercial equipment to trial new LLDPE plastic products, including blown film lines. That will allow converters to trial new products without having to shut down their production lines.
Plus, our Polymers Pioneers and Pros can offer insights on how to develop new products and help customers troubleshoot issues along the way.