Polyethylene’s Material Properties Help Converters Serve Customers, Whether on Land or Sea
The desirable material properties of high-density polyethylene make it ideal for the manufacturing of boat hulls, on-board components, and marine-grade board.
Polyethylene’s material properties make it durable and versatile, as exemplified by its vast number of applications and end uses. Among high-density polyethylene’s growing applications is the manufacturing of boat hulls, components, and marine-grade board.
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger [HDPE] Boat
HDPE has long been a favored raw material for rotational molding canoes and kayaks. It’s strong, buoyant, impervious to sunlight and ocean salt, and requires minimal maintenance compared with traditional alternatives such as wood.
Over the past few decades, a growing number of companies have started to make and sell larger HDPE boats, including sail boats, power boats, leisure craft and work boats. For example, Amsterdam-based boat builder Tideman recently expanded to the U.S. market, offering HDPE patrol and pilot boats up to nearly 40 feet in length.1 2
That’s a notable shift from 20 years ago, when polyethylene boat lengths topped out at around 20 feet, produced by just a handful of companies.3
The recreational boat manufacturing market is experiencing continued growth:
- Globally, the market is projected to grow at an annual CAGR of 6.2% in the coming years, reaching $23.6 billion by 2027.4
- Recreational boat sales are driving anticipated revenue growth.5
- U.S. recreational powerboat sales have been trending at all-time highs since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic emerged.6
Besides molded HDPE boat hulls, HDPE marine-grade sheet is also popular for boating applications – used to make on-board components such as hatches, doors, grab rails, cup holders, countertops and frames.7
That’s in addition to its many other material properties and advantages:
- It’s moisture, chemical, and abrasion-resistant, making it ideal for packaging electronics and molding complex, durable components that won’t degrade.
- It can be used for rigid, molded applications.
Ensuring Quality Resin Across Applications
For converters – whether the products they make are ultimately used on the open ocean or on land in supermarkets, hospitals, and other facilities – consistent batches of high-quality polymer resin are a must.
Inconsistent batches can cause slowdowns and other production challenges for converters that can ultimately harm their bottom lines and their customer relationships.
Shell Polymers’ new polyethylene plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania has the facilities and expertise to ensure its HDPE pellets meet strict quality standards. That includes state-of-the art machinery, procedures, and rigorous testing, all aimed at making sure pellets have the material properties and specifications converters expect.
Our analytical lab and polymers science laboratories will play a key role in our testing processes.
These facilities are staffed by in-house polymer experts including analytical chemists, chemical engineers and polymer scientists with long track records in the polymers industry as well as the broader Shell network. Many converters don’t have advanced testing capabilities in-house, and these experts will provide peace of mind to converters that their resin meets standards and regulations.
Our analytical lab will collaborate with our production team to test additive levels, pellet size, color, melt index, density and other variables, and alert production to make adjustments if any specs are trending outside of the center of their range.
Our plant tests to industry standards, but our polymer science laboratories are also capable of testing materials to their limits in order to tease out key differences and provide valuable insights to converters. That takes cutting-edge equipment, including our Instron, a universal testing machine that can evaluate tensile and compressive strength, as well the force required for a material to tear, shear, or puncture.
Our teams can also conduct in-depth characterization studies, including rheology studies that determine how easily a resin can be processed. Such tests are key to developing new or improved products, increasing production capabilities, and ensuring product quality and consistency.