Polyethylene Chain for Rooftop Barrier Systems
The barrier chains and connector links on our roof barrier system are manufactured from 6mm polyethylene, the most common type of plastic on our planet. While it may seem that using stainless steel chain would provide more protection, this is not the case so today we’re going to take a close look at polyethylene, how it’s manufactured and how durable this product really is.
You may be surprised to learn that polyethylene was first synthesized as far back as 1898 by the German chemist Hans von Pechmann who prepared it by accident while investigating diazomethane. The first industrially viable synthesis of polyethylene was discovered in 1933 by Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson at the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) works in Northwich, England and, again, it was discovered by accident. Then, in 1935, another ICI chemist, Michael Perrin developed a reproducible method of high pressure synthesis that became the basis for industrial LDPE (low density polyethylene) production in 1939. It was discovered that polyethylene has extremely low loss properties at very high frequency radio waves so commercial distribution in Britain was put on hold with the outbreak of World War 2. The new process was kept secret and used to produce insulation for UHF and SHF coaxial cables on radar sets. Further research was carried out during the war years and large scale commercial production began at Du Pont, West Virginia under licence from ICI.
The high density polyethylene used to make the chains for our roof barrier systems is durable and provides reliability in terms of resistance to corrosion and oxidation. The addition of anti-UV additives ensure that the chain doesn’t deteriorate over time. Polyethylene links are not joined by adhesives or solvents but are welded together to produce an almost unbreakable chain. The polyethylene has the added advantage of being resistant to caustic materials. Despite being tough and durable, polyethylene is remarkably light and it is reliable under every circumstance. It can just as easily deal with tropical temperatures as with the low temperatures found at the polar circle!
Polyethylene is a good insulator and can be processed into a soft and flexible material or into tough, strong products. It’s been increasingly adopted as the material of choice for pipes, tubes and fuel tanks because it is such a stable material. It’s also surprisingly environment friendly because it is so efficient as a raw material and the manufacturing process is relative clean and efficient with minimal emission of harmful materials to the atmosphere. There is also very little waste produced during the manufacture of polyethylene and it is totally suited to recycling. It is also very easy to clean and maintain, so the use of polyethylene in construction products is on the increase.
When it comes to strength, polyethylene can be spun into threads with tensile strengths many times greater than steel so it’s frequently used in high performance equipment and is even used to manufacture bullet proof vests! This means that the polyethylene chains used in our rooftop barrier systems offer all the advantages of plastic combined with the strength of steel.