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Skrim- What is Skrim?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Wed, Apr 01, 2015 @ 12:31

Skrim...have you seen it used before? Or should it be, "Scrim"?  Or maybe it is spelled, "Skryrim"?  No- it's "Skrim" right?


According to some lisings on the internet, Skrim is a mountain of Buskerud, in sourthern Norway! Really? Did you know there was such a mountain named, Skrim?

Another place where you see the word, "Skrim" is used in conjunction with Raven Industries product called "Dura-Skrim".  This is a product that has a layer of string reinforcement between layers of polyethylene plastic sheeting.  Now you have implied meaning of a durable roll of plastic that is strong due to the string reinforcement- thus it's durable!

What about Skrim spelled, "Skyrim? Again when searching for "Skrim" you come up with Skyrim which is an action role-playing video game! Did we get that right?

Then we find that "skrim" is also spelled, "scrim"!  Scrim is another word for gauze- a very light textile made from cotton or sometimes flax. Scrim can be light weight and translucent which makes it very useful when making curtains. Scrim is also used in making book bindings and upholstery. Scrim is well-known for it's use in the theater. There is a variety that is used for special effects. This variety of scrim/skrim is called, "sharkstooth scrim".  In the theater world, if someone uses the word scrim, they can be referring to a thin screen made out of a wide variety of materials.  Scim can have a rectangular weave.

Where does that leave "scrim"?  There is another plastic sheeting product called, "Poly Scrim".  This is  polyethylene plastic with layers of string reinforcement placed between the layers of poly to make a strong plastic sheeting product that won't tear, and can stand up to wind and harsh conditions, In this case, scrim is referring to the string mesh that is placed within the plastic sheeting. When string reinforcement, often made of nylon, is added to plastic, it allows for hems, drains, elastic cord, webbing handles and more to be made from the plastic.  Poly Scrim can also be made in a fire retardant version. Now you have a skrim/scrim/string reinforced plastic sheeting product that has a multitude of uses.

There you have it- a look at the word, "skrim" and it's many adaptations.

Tags: Skrim

"Visqueen" Vapor Barrier- Will it do the job?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Mon, Mar 09, 2015 @ 10:16

So often people inquire about, "Visqueen" vapor barrier.  What they are really asking for is some sort of plastic sheeting to use as a vapor barrier/retarder. (Click here to visit the vapor barrier page).

Vapor barrier for concrete

Why are vapor barriers used under concrete you ask...Moisture that is in the ground slowly rises to the surface. This is problematic if you are putting tile or carpeting on top of the concrete in the way of flooring.  Vapor barriers AKA vapor  retarders are a sheet of plastic that blocks the water from reaching the concrete slab. 

Can any type of plastic work for this purpose...not exactly.  You see while you may think a 6-mil layer of Visqueen is sufficient, it simply isn't. This liner is not water tight. Additionally, 6 mil plastic gets damaged during the placement of reinforcement and concrete which will create holes that will let the water right up.

Visqueen has become one of the generic names for plastic sheeting, just as Kleenex has become the generic name for tissue. When someone asks for Visqueen, they are referring to a lesser grade of plastic sheeting. The plastic sheeting known as Visqueen has become a generic name for Construction and Agricultural Grade Polyethylene sheeting (C&A film). C&A film contains up to 25% post consumer recycled content, and is made from the least expensive resins available at any given time. While it is excellent for use in many projects, it is not ideal for any use that requires sustained strength such as a tarp or for use as a vapor/moisture barrier or retarder. People will often do a search for "visqueen vapor retarder", or fire retardant visqueen" when they may be looking for an engineered plastic. An engineered plastic is one that is intentionally designed to meet certain measurable criteria to insure its suitability for the job it is intended for. 

When looking for a vapor retarder/barrier, we recommend  an engineered film like Raven Industries VaporBlock Plus for this purpose to block as much of the moisture, radon, methane and VOC's as possible. VaporBlock Plus engineered films are designed to last forever buried in the soil, where C&A film often completely breaks down within a couple of years. Have you ever dug up some old black plastic? Remember how torn and crusty it was? It's important that today's vapor/moisture barriers or retarders should pass the ASTM E 96 Class A, B and C (standard for under-slab vapor retarders in contact with soil or granular fill).  ASTM E 96 measures in part the "permeance" or how much water can pass through the vapor barrier.  You need a liner that is 0.3 perms or less. In terms of thickness, 10 mils and above will offer much better protection and resistance to moisture transmission.   If you need to over-lap the vapor retarder, 6 inches at the seams, taped and sealed around column and the like.

The bottom line is doing your due diligence regarding vapor barriers and selecting one that is not a "visqueen vapor barrier" and go with  liner that is engineered and tested to do the best job for the application.

Tags: Visqeen vapor barrier

6 Mil Clear Reinforced Films- Why Are They Popular?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Thu, Mar 05, 2015 @ 01:21

6 Mil clear Reinforced Films  Why are resized 600

Click here to view 6 mil clear reinforced plastic sheeting. 

Are 6 mil clear reinforced polyethylene construction fins the same thing as 6 mil clear plastic sheeting/poly sheeting?  Perhaps comparing it to a 4 wheel drive SUV’s and 2 wheel drive SUV’s can help  with the analog.  The SUV's may look the same in terms of the shape and color of the vehicle, but the performance of the two vehicles vastly differ.  The same can be said when you are trying to compare 6 mil clear reinforced (nylon string poly to 6 mil clear plastic sheeting. Both films can be made from virgin resins, but the strings/scrim reinforced film is much stronger due to the string reinforcement.

 When people refer to "string reinforced"  they are talking about fiber that is placed between two sheets of polyethylene to strengthen the plastic sheeting.  This fiber can be made from a variety of materials such as fiberglass, polyester, polypropylene and others.  Each string type will offer a different set of benefits.  Essentially all those terms are referring to the fact that there is more than just polyethylene in the sheeting.  The string/ fiber is what keeps tears to a minimum.  If the string is laid equally in both directions it follows that the tear will be the same in both directions.

So how do you decide between the string reinforced and the non-reinforced plastic sheeting? The key is defining the results you want from the poly film for the application at hand. If you need a tougher film, then go for the scrim reinforced version. 

Will this film be used outside and thus need UV protection to protect for sun degradation?  Some of the addition that can be added to the 6 mil reinforced  film are grommets, tie‐downs, hems, zippers, drains, and 3‐D custom shapes are an option. Do you need the film to be fire retardant? That is an option as well.

Both films will do a good job when they are used in applications that suit their intended use. 

Tags: Poly Scrim, string reinforcement, scrim reinforcement, Raven IndustriesDura Skrim

The History of Polyethylene

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 @ 10:19

On March 27, 1933, two organic chemists working for the Imperial Chemical Industries Research Laboratory were testing various chemicals. To  R.O Gibson and E.W. Fawcett's surprise the white, waxy substance they were testing would become a revolutionary substance that would change the world. Polyethylene was born!

 polethylene resin for plastic sheeting

The researchers set off a reaction between ethylene and benzaldehyde, in an autoclave. It seems their testing container sprang a leak and all of the pressure escaped. There was the white, waxy substance that greatly resembled plastic. Upon carefully repeating and analyzing the experiment, the scientists discovered that the loss of pressure was only partly due to a leak; the major reason was the polymerization process that had occurred leaving behind polyethylene. The first patents for polythene were registered in 1936 by Imperial Chemical Industries.  A year later the first practical use for the material, as a film, was discovered. In 1953 Karl Ziegler of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and Erhard Holzkamp invented HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). From there, two years later, in 1955, HDPE was produced as pipe.  Ziegler was awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Did you know that polyethylene played a key supporting role during World War II? It was first  used as an underwater cable coating and then as a critical insulating material for  vital military applications as radar insulation. This is because it was so light and thin that it made placing radar onto airplanes possible thus vastly reducing the weigh. The substance was a highly guarded secret.

After the war, polyethylene became a tremendous hit with consumers It became the first plastic in the United States to sell more than a billion pounds a year. It is currently the largest volume plastic in the world.

 Today, Polyethylene has the advantages of excellent moisture-vapor, chemical, and electrical resistance. It is widely used for making containers, wire cable insulation, pipe, linings, coatings, and engineered films. It is used to power transmission, consumer goods, packaging, electronics household good and more. Its principal disadvantage is poor mechanical strength, unless it has a little help from scrim reinforcement! Developments in technology continues to improve its functionality making it the most efficient use of natural resources petroleum and natural gas. We applaud these scientists for creating polyethylene that is used in a variety of plastic sheeting products today.

Polyethylene is the largest volume polymer produced globally, with over 90 million metric tons per year!

Tags: plastic sheeting, polyethylene, film, history of polyethylene

Heavy Duty Plastic Sheeting- 4 Examples of what it is

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 09:18

What do we mean when we say, "Heavy Duty Plastic Sheeting"?  The dictionary defines "heavy duty" as, "made to withstand hard use or wear" and "made to withstand great strain or use".  So when Global Plastic Sheeting refers to "heavy duty plastic sheeting", we are referring to a plastic sheeting product that is made to withstand hard use or great strain based on the application the plastic sheeting was designed for.  Therein lies the difference.  A plastic liner is not heavy duty in every application it is presented with.  A liner/ film is heavy duty when the plastic was engineered specifically for an application and the film is capable of doing the job it was designed for. It will stay strong, and protect what it was employed to protect.

Let's take surface protection films. These are films that are engineered to cover a variety of surfaces in the most expeditious way possible.  Carpet plastic is made to stick to carpeting without transferring the adhesive onto the carpet; hold up under the PSI pressure that a ladder could place on the plastic, have a tight enough cell structure that any fluids that land on the plastic won't permeate onto the carpeting; and continue to do its job protecting the surface of the carpet for the time period it was engineered for- usually 30 to 45 days. Can any type of plastic do this job? Absolutely not. Plastic known as "visqueen" that you find in big box stores won't hold up to the riggers like a virgin polyethylene will.  Some products that have adhesive come from overseas where they don't have the quality control that we have over our plastic and our adhesives.  What can happen is this foreign film can discolor you carpet due to a petroleum based adhesive. All the films that Global Plastic Sheeting offers we consider to be "heavy duty plastics" because this are rough and tough when used where directed.  glass plastic

It's tricky for consumers to really understand what goes into making these films. On the surface they look like, well- plastic.  But just like cars for the most part all looks the same, there are a great degree of differences that explain why one may be better suited to be a race car versus a family car. What is under the hood came make a huge difference.  We offer hundreds of different types of plastic sheeting that perform different duties.

What about Fire Retardant Films? Again, plastic looks like plastic.  When you feel it you might notice one is thicker than the other. One is sticky on one side, or one is black and one is white.  How is that important?  Plastic is an amazing animal.  In the lab, additives can be added to the films to make the perform double duty.  Take fire retardant plastic (flame resistant plastic).  A fire retardant additive is mixed in with the plastic so what when a flame comes in contact with the film, the plastic will not add to the fuel source. This heavy duty fire retardant film will not burn. It may melt due to the extreme heat, but it will not burn. This constitutes being heavy duty because the flame resistant plastic is doing what it was designed to do- withstand hard use- extreme conditions.

Anti-Static Flame Resistant plastic

Another liner/ film that falls into the category of "heavy duty plastic" is a liner called, HDPE.  HDPE stands for high density polyethylene.  This plastic which is also called a "geomembrane" is engineered with a specially formulated polyethylene resin.  It contains approximately 97.5% polyethylene, 2.5% carbon black and trace amounts of antioxidants and heat stabilizers; no other additives, fillers or extenders are used.  What you get is a film that has excellent chemical resistance, very low permeability- high tensile strength and more.  This liner stands up to UV radiation and can survive outside in harsh conditions.  Now that is heavy duty!

Containment plastic must be heavy duty as well to do its job correctly. What is contaiment plastic?  It is plastic that is used to cover the object that needs covering.  Take scaffolding.  You have seen where it is covered in plastic- that is a specialty plastic called heat shrink wrap.  This engineered plastic is made to shrink when heat is applied to tightly cover the building, boat, or object it is protecting. Pictured below is the Mars Rover protected by our specialty heat shrink wrap called, GPS Anti-stiati Fire Retardant Heat Shrink Wrap.mars

Can greenhouse plastic be heavy duty? Absolutely.  Take SolaWrap greenhouse covering film.  This bubble wrap looking plastic will last 10 years in the hashest of environment.  It is made to withstand heavy snow loads, high winds, sun, heat, rain- you name it...and it won't yellow or degrade. Other greenhouse covers made from 6 mil polyethylene will only last a few year. And while they will get the job done for a time period, they are not as heavy duty as Solawrap. Here you see SolaWrap on a commercial greenhouse for Proven Winner.  SolaWrap goes the distance.

Greenhouse plastic SolaWrap

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what we mean by, heavy duty plastic sheeting when we refer to our product line.  Products that do what they say they will do make life a little easier.

Tags: heavy duty plastic sheeting

Recovering your Greenhouse Plastic? 3 Things To Consider

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 03:00

Is it that time again to replace your  greenhouse covering? Are looking for the best greenhouse plastic you can find. This article will look at the greenhouse covers that have been on the market for years in the US and then present a proven product that has a track record of 30 years in Europe, but if fairly new in the United States.  It is like nothing else that currently exists on the market.  You will see that it outperforms all its competitors, and is more cost effective in the long run.

 What factors are you taking into consideration for your greenhouse?  You are probably considering the amount and type of light reaching your plants, the overall appearance of your greenhouse, its ease of maintenance, safety and longevity. Most of all, you want something that is cost effective.

What are your choices?  Let's start with polyethylene films.  It comes in a variety of thicknesses with 6 mil being very common. When selecting a 6 mil greenhouse plastic, you need to make sure it is not a product out of China.  The Chinese made films are not made with virgin polyethylene which degrades in the sun! Some people chose to use a double layer for better insulation. Typically a single layer of polyethylene film has an R value of approximately 0.85. A double poly cover consisting of two layers of poly has an approximate R value of 1.25.  This is a quick inexpensive fix- but is it really inexpensive when you add in the labor cost to replace it more often than other options. Greenhouse plastic will offer some UV protection, and some versions have better tensile strength than others.

Greenhouse plastic tears One thing to be aware of is the plastic ripping where the plastic touches the PVC. This seems to be reported from growers who don't use a film that offers UV protection  The PVC may absorb the heat and speed up the breakdown of the plastic.  As we all know, sun is an enemy to all sorts of plastic sheeting. Another reason for the breakdown and tearing of the plastic could be the chlorine that is in PVC.  This too is a problem for greenhouse plastic.  There is a polyethylene greenhouse film that won't give you these problems called SolaWrap!  Read on to learn more.

6 mil greenhouse plastic coverings also come in white. They are often referred to as, white opaque greenhouse films. White greenhouse films are popular when reducing heat in the greenhouse is the goal.   Being white will however reduce the light transmission by almost half per layer.

Another option is to look at the reinforced polyethylene greenhouse films.  This product comes in a 3 ply laminate where a cord grid is placed between two layers of plastic.  The goal is to offer a high strength film that is durable yet light weight.

Polycarbonate Panels:  Another route that has been popular in the past is polycarbonate panels.  This is a translucent rigid plastic.  Some compare it to glass as it is almost as transparent.  It can be installed as a corrugated single layer, or in a flat twin wall version.  By doing a twin wall you create air pockets between the two walls which act as insulators.  Due to its glass like quality, it offers good light transmission.  People like that it is a light weight material that can be cut to size and installed.

Glass:  Glass is one of the least efficient materials for retaining heat because it has very little insulating value, and it transmits heat and cold quickly. Consider thermometers are made from glass.  

Glass is much heavier than other coverings and needs substantial framing. It doesn't diffuse light so plants could get burned; glass breaking is a huge hazard.  Consider climates that have heavy snow loads and hail storms. If the foundation or the frame shifts for whatever reason, the glass can crack. Another consideration is heat loss due to gaps between the panes.  It's important to have an installer who is experienced. It's not something that most weekend gardeners can throw up.

SolaWrap Greenhouse Plastic Cover:  SolaWrap Greenhouse Plastic (Greenhouse covering) offers:

  • R-Value 1.7
  • 83% transparency
  • 10 year warranty against UV degradation (better warranty than polycarbonate)
  • up to 83% diffused light (only product on the market with both high transparency and high diffusion)
  • 120 lbs per square foot snow load rating (approx 15 feet of snow)
  • 100 mph wind rating (has survived 135 mph windstorms in Alaska)
  • Has been shown to last up to 27 years on greenhouses in Europe
  • Does not yellow or get brittle
Greenhouse Covering SolaWrap

Pictured above the greenhouse that Proven Winners built using SolaWrap. More and more commercial growers in the U.S. are becoming familiar with Solawrap, and are selecting it.  The bubble structure offers amazing benefits when compared to the other products on the market.

Greenhouse covering SolaWrap

SolaWrap has withstood many a hailstorm, snow load, and all out terrible winters. There is no need to worry about hail storms and the resulting broken glass!broken glass greenhouse

describe the imagegreenroof problems

To find out more about SolaWrap, please call us at 855 Sola USA  (855.765.2872). Happy Growing!

Tags: Solawrap, greenhouse plastic

Waterproof Tape- Does it exist?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 @ 01:52

Question:Can you recommend a tape to hold plastic together for a pond liner that is waterproof? Does such a waterproof tape even exist?

Answer: Ye, waterproof tape does exit!  Taping pond liners can be tricky business. Common types of liners expand and contract over temperature ranges, and the liners commonly used can expand and contract by as much as 5%. This alone makes successful taping of liners a challenge. As ponds are filled with water, the liner settles, and the water stretches the liners. Any taped seams are put under additional stress. There are waterproof tapes on the market, which can be used for this purpose if there is no other choice, and for repairs.(Click here for waterproof tapes_ 225 Fr tape, Butyl tape.) My highest recommendation goes to lining the pond with a one-piece liner, or one that can be welded in the field. Global Plastic Sheeting, Inc. offers a nice selection of pond liners made from 100% virgin resins.

Tags: Waterproof tapes

Flame Resistant Plastic Sheeting- When to Use It!

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 11:42

What ?? Flame resistant plastic sheeting, really? Does it come in Clear, white, black?  Flame resistant flexible plastic comes in white and black, but it does not come in clear when it is made from polyethylene.  The reason being that the fire retardant/ flame resistant additive is white! It is common to find this plastic in a  Black plastic sheeting that is fire retardant?  Why would anyone want it, and what advantages does it offer me? What makes the GPS Black Plastic Sheeting any different than what I can get at the home improvement stores? Why is it important to use during Halloween for example?

FR Global Plastic Sheeting

First, polyethylene is highly combustible in its natural form, and makes what Fire Marshal's deem a "VERY EXCITING FIRE"once it is on fire.  Because polyethylene is made from oil and natural gas based compounds, it is highly flammable, and burns at very hot temperatures. 

Polyethylene is used everywhere.  If you keep your eyes open, you will see it every day- on construction sites, in homes and offices, black plastic at haunted houses, flea markets, warehouses are full of it, packing supplies are made from it, toys, auto parts, most foreign cars (just threw that in for giggles!), anyway you get the picture.  Poly makes a fire burn much hotter and faster, and is an accelerant.  This causes people to get hurt, and unfortunately, in numerous cases every year, people lose their lives because of plastic sheeting or other types of plastics. This is why FR plastic is important for Halloween. If people have a candle or a lighter, you don't want the plastic catching fire. It's important to buy an FR plastic that is cerified as Fire Retardant. There are I am sure you can all remember hearing of fires in night clubs, where  plastic caught fire, and many people were trapped.  This is avoidable, and with some education, people can make choices that keep these tragedies from happening.

Through chemistry, the plastic industry has been able to make most polyethylene, regardless of form (even most foreign cars) using plastic that is deemed "Flame Resistant".  First, let's get an idea what this term means.  Making a highly combustible material, like polyethylene, Fire Retardant (FR)  or Flame Resistant means that we take away its ability to contribute significantly as a fuel source in a fire.  This can be done at various levels and there are countless tests available today to help certify the levels of just how FR these products have become.  Some of the most popular are the NFPA 701, ASTM E-84, UL-94, California Fire Marshal Title 19, just to name a few.

To simplify this, additive packages are added to the resins used to make polyethylene products causing the finished product to be fire retardant. 

Today, we are able to engineer the additive levels so that the products can pass the FR tests needed for most applications and industries.  A  few applications for FR polyethylene that did not even exist as little as a decade ago are such things as: Black Polyethylene Sheeting (Black Plastic Sheeting) for haunted houses, Housewraps, Vapor Retarders, Construction Tarps, Enclosure Films, Abatement Plastics, Automotive interior parts, FR tapes, Airplane Covers, Military Applications Galore, Temporary Shelters, Humanitarian Aid,  Cargo Covers, Surface Protection Films, Pallet Covers, Heat Shrink Wrap, Theatrical Plastics used on stages, Dog show plastics, Industrial Plastic Sheeting, Spray booths, and the list goes on and on.

The reason for the increased popularity in FR polyethylene over such a short period of time is that the increase in fire safety is so substantial, and the cost difference is so small that it just makes sense.  When fires strike, and they strike often, using FR products of any type keep the loss of property to a minimum, and more importantly the loss of life and injury as small as possible.  More and more specifications are calling for FR products, and this is a great thing for all of us.  After all, when was the last time you checked to find out if that housewrap they used to build the walls of your house was Fire Retardant?  Please watch for future posts on this subject, because this hot topic is just heating up.

Tags: Flame Resistant plastic sheeting

Heat Shrink Wrap that is Anti-Static, Fire Retardant with UVI!

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 10:09

At last we have a heat shrink wrap film that has ultra violet resistance, is fire retardant, and is also anti-static! The "all-in- one"  implication for offering both anti-static and fire retardant characteristics to the film is pronounced. This film is fire certified to the NFPA 701. If you are wrapping equipment that has electrical motors, semi-conductors, or cannot withstand static discharge,  the anti-static property will minimize the chances of a spark. Take the Mars Rover for was wrapped with this proprietary film as pictured below!

heat shrink wrap anti-static, FR

 Wrapped by the Shrink Wrap Pros!

Heat shrink wrap film is one of the most versitile, useful ways to protect and encapsulate odd shaped objects of all sizes- (like the rocket pictured below from one of GPS's customers).  Heat shrink wrapping is used becasue it offers a containment that is strong, durable, and require little mainenance.

heat shrink wrap rocket Heat shrink wrap film (often referred to as, shrink wrap film/plastic) is made from virgin polyethylene resin, the most dependable film for the job.  It shrinks when heat is applied, encapsulating the object in a secure manner.  This encapsulation insures that the elements such as wind, rain, snow won't have access to the item.  

Heat shrink wrap film comes in a variety of thicknesses and colors to better suit the application. The thicker films are more durable for more demanding applications. The thicknesses range from 6 mil, 7 mil, 8 mil, 9 mil, 10 mil, and 12 mil.

There are three standard colors.  White is the most common. It is used for reflecting heat, and does well in all weather conditions.  White is often used for transportation as a cover.  Blue is well suited for areas with snow since it absorbs heat which helps the snow to slide off.  Clear works well when you want to see what is covered since you can see through it.

Heat shrink wrap can also come in a flame/fire retardant version which will quickly extinquish the wrap should it come in contact with flames.  Meeting NFPA 701, the FR heat shrink wrap is popular with  shipyards, scaffolding, factories, or any application that requires the materials to be fire retardant.

.There are hundreds of uses for heat shrink wrap film. Ten of the most pouluar uses are:

  • Use in construction on scaffolding to wrap buildings
  • Scaffolding wrap containment for bridges/ construction
  • Marine uses such as wrapping boats, and marine equipment
  • Disaster relief projects for covering damaged buildings and roofs
  • Wrap and protect large equipment of all shapes and sizes
  • Shrink wrap pallets for freight
  • Shrink wrap items that will be transported or packaging
  • Winterize items for storage
  • Environmental containment for safe removal of lead and other hazards
  • RV wrap

If you would like to know more about this product click here, or call 866.597.9298 and ask for Ken!

Tags: FR heat shrink wrap, boat wrap, scaffolding wrap, anti-static heat shrink wrap

Flexible Plastic Sheeting- Types, Uses, and Additives

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 @ 02:39

What is meant when someone mentions “flexible plastic sheeting” ? What kinds of “flexible plastic sheeting” are there? Are there different types? And what are the additives used to make flexible plastic films?

In its simplest terms, the main difference between the different types of plastic is the way their cellular structure, or molecules bond with each other, and how tightly they are formed. Beyond that, this incredible polymer allows us to add additives to improve the performance of the plastic.

Anti-static Fr Heat Shrink wrap Mars Rover

Which is the most flexible of them all?

Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is the most flexible of the plastic sheeting films. LLDPE is blended form of LDPE where the film has much more flexibility, tensile strength, and more conformability. It is more pliable and softer. LLDPE is used for pond liners or blended into other films to give them more flexibility and extra strength. LLDPE is used for films that need a tremendous amount of strength to absorb impacts while not tearing or puncturing. An example of this is a carpet plastic film that adheres to the carpet. It is strong enough to withstand foot traffic, even from stiletto high heels! The molecules all line up and strongly hold together as the film is stretched. The most common thickness range is from 0.5 mil to 40 mil in flexible plastic sheeting.

Which is the most common of them all?

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is the most common type of plastic sheeting. It is very flexible, most often from 0.5 mil thick to about 40 mil in flexible sheeting forms. Due to its flexibility is conforms well to a variety of surfaces. The downside is that this LDPE is not as strong or dense as some other types of plastic sheeting. It is not nearly as puncture resistant either. LDPE is used quite widely in construction, agriculture, surface protection applications, covers of all sorts, tarps and much more.

Which is least commonly used of them all?

Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE) is the least commonly used form of polyethylene for flexible plastic sheeting. Its positive attributes is that it is stronger than LDPE and has a little more chemical resistant. It has a tighter cell structure making it more tear and puncture resistant. When pond liners are manufactured they are often made with MDPE and blended with LDPE or LLDPE to achieve a strong yet flexible pond liner.

Which is the toughest of them all?

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE, aka HD), has the distinction of being the strongest, toughest, most chemical resistant and least flexible of the four types of flexible plastic sheeting referenced in this article. HDPE is also the most UV resistant- holding up to the harsh rays of the sun without needing UV additive packages. HDPE’s strength comes from its tight cell structure that makes it very difficult for other molecules to pass through its structure on a microscopic level. When applications call for very large liners such as pond liners, HDPE is the most easily seamed or “sewn” together. Used industrially, the thickness range from 12 mils to100 mil thick. HDPE is used as secondary containment liners for oil tanks, and most industrial ponds and canal liners where chemical resistance is needed.

What Additives can be added to the plastic?

Anti-static:  An anti-static additive can be added to polyehtylene to make it resist sparking.  Anti-static films are used in the telecommunication industry as one example.  Certain types of equipment can be prone to sparks which could result in a devistating fire.  Anti-static fire retardant films solve this problem.

UV Stabilizers:  Sunlight eats up plastic.  Perhaps you have seen black plastic on piles of dirt that are flapping in the wind? That is because that torn plastic didn't have any UV stabilizers to combat the strong rays of the sun. Heavy duty plastic sheeting adds these stabilizers for films that will be used for ponds, covering anything outdoors, exposed to sun light. 

Color/Pigment:  It's no surprise that pigment can be added to polyethylene to make the plastic look a certain color.  Just about any color can be created.

Flame/Fire Retardant:  Plastic goes up in a flash if it is exposed to an open flame.  Today there are fire retardant films that when exposed to a flame will not add to the fire. They will self extinguish.  Note that the plastic may melt, but it won't be a fuel souce to the fire.

Sip/Anti-block agents:  This additive is used to improve film to film slipping.

External Coatings:  Coatings can be applied to the surface of the plastic, which is designed to help wet out the surface of the film.  This in turn decreases the contact angle of the water dropplets and improves transparancy.

Tags: flexible plastic Sheeting, Types of flexible plastic sheeting