Which types of corrugated plastic meet the UL 94 standard and how do they compare?

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DATE: 05.04.2023

Which types of corrugated plastic meet the UL 94 standard and how do they compare?

Choosing plastic corrugate that’s made of fire-retardant resins is a great way to enhance product safety and bolster your brand value. When evaluating plastic materials, look for a UL 94 rating. This indicates the material meets the flammability standard for plastics set by the Underwriters Laboratories. Not only is the UL standard widely recognized across multiple industries, but also by consumers at large.

UL 94 rates a plastic materials’ fire retardancy based on ignition and how quickly it self-extinguishes. It’s important to understand these measurements occurred in a lab setting, so it’s not a guarantee on how these materials would respond in a real-life setting. But using UL 94–rated corrugates can help you meet the standards when fire resistance is an industry requirement.

Because plastics can be formulated to meet UL 94 standards, they can be used as an alternative to metal corrugate, providing an instant upgrade for your product design. Plastic corrugate is lightweight, quiet and requires no additional finishes or treatments to resist chemicals. Plastic also offers lower material and production costs. When it comes to cleaning and upkeep, plastic offers a long-lasting, low-maintenance solution.

3 fire-retardant plastics and how they compare

To find the best value for your application — and to achieve your desired quality and performance — you’ll want to do a side-by-side comparison of the material’s properties and benefits.

To help you evaluate your options, these are three of the most widely used plastic corrugates that can be formulated for a UL 94 rating: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Corrugated HDPE is a lightweight versatile plastic that has multiple uses when it's formulated for a UL 94 rating, including consumer products, automotive, storage and construction.

Because it’s weather-proof and extremely durable, it provides long-lasting rugged protection that withstands the elements. HDPE is highly resistant to chemicals, acids, solvents and detergents.

Unlike polypropylene, HDPE stands up to UV exposure, extending its applicability to outdoor uses.image about the content in the post. HDPE is also touted for its strength-to-weight ratio, giving it unmatched impact resistance that doesn’t bend or break. Because HDPE can be welded and takes metal fasteners, it's a versatile corrugated plastic.

A key advantage to HDPE corrugated plastic is it can be formulated to be as flexible or rigid as you need it. By changing the amount of resin in the formula, it can be extruded into rigid sheets or flexible rolls, and then die-cut to meet your specifications.

Polypropylene (PP)

Uses of polypropylene and HDPE often overlap because they share many of the same properties. PP is known for providing an inexpensive and chemical-resistant option for corrugate — though unlike HDPE, PP can absorb aromatics and doesn’t resist certain solvents. Polypropylene is semi-rigid, with the ability to absorb energy and bend without cracking. It’s often used in electrical components for its high electrical resistance. Unlike HDPE, polypropylene deteriorates under UV exposure, and cannot be enhanced for flexibility.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

ABS corrugate is one of the most common plastic materials used in commercial products. Because it can be glued, painted and sanded, it’s not only used as a structural material but it’s also highly cosmetic. It’s touted for its resistance to chemicals and corrosion, provides good electrical insulation and resists stress-cracking. ABS is inexpensive, but it’s a highly rigid material.

Let us design your solution

When product safety is a priority, Wave-Core FR includes fire-retardant HDPE resins engineered to resist combustion when exposed to sparks and flames. Because it retains most of the core characteristics of our standard Wave-Core material — flexible, lightweight, rugged enough to withstand the elements — Wave-Core FR provides a superior choice to other fire-retardant plastics on the market.

Contact us to talk about your concept and our full-service solutions.