Durable Furniture: 5 Advantages of Polyethylene Furniture in Your Intensive-Use Environment
Polyethylene, one of the most common variations of plastic, is often used in the production of bags, bottles, containers and other mass produced items. But did you know, when properly manufactured, that polyethylene also can be used to create nearly indestructible, durable furniture products that can be used in correctional facilities, healthcare environments and shelters spaces?
Of course, there is a big difference in the way that plastic bags and durable furniture are produced. Bags, on one hand, are most often made of low-density polyethylene – a plastic variety that is used to produce softer products – while furniture is frequently made of high-density polyethylene, which is used for products that need to stand up to wear and tear and constant use.
And when manufacturers produce the furniture using rotomolding – the process of creating one-piece products by using a hollow mold that is filled with polyethylene then heated and rotated – they are capable of creating highly durable furniture, with thick surfaces and structural integrity.
But those are just a few of the advantages of buying polyethylene furniture. Below we outline five additional reasons why you should consider products made of this material for your intensive-use environment.
Easy to clean
As mentioned above, when rotomolded, polyethylene can be manufactured as a one-piece product. What are the advantages of this exactly? If manufactured seamlessly and with smooth surfaces, one-piece polyethylene products have no cracks and crevices where debris and fluids can gather. All of this together allows for the easy cleaning of the entire product using just a damp cloth, water and soap.
Premium polyethylene also can be chemically resistant to body oils and fluids, salt solution and cleaning solutions – adding years to the life of the furniture. This is especially important for high-use environments where there is a high turnover rate in occupants. This resistance provides highly necessary infection control not found in furniture made of inferior materials that may stain or include areas where fluids may accumulate.
High quality polyethylene can pretty durable on its own. But the material can also be manufactured with additional, specially formulated, fire-retardant, high-impact materials that make it compliant with industry flammability standards. Look for products that comply with the following standards:
- State of California, Technical Bulletin No. 133, Flammability Test Procedure for Seating Furniture for Use in Public Occupancies
- UL1056 Fire Test of Upholstered Furniture
- ASTM E1537 Test Method for Fire Testing of Real Scale Upholstered Furniture Items
- NFPA 261 Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Upholstered Furniture
- UL94 HB Test for Flammability of Plastic Materials
- British Standard BS 7176: 2007, High Hazard Occupancy (BS EN 1012-1: 2006, BS EN 1012-2: 2006, BS 5852: 2006)
When properly designed, polyethylene furniture can be some of the safest and most tamper proof products on the market. When rotomolded, rectilinear shapes are replaced with smooth contoured surfaces. This creates an element of safety for those using the product and guards against sharp edges in challenging environments. Additionally, high impact polyethylene is break resistant and prevents users of the furniture from turning parts of the product into weapons or producing pockets or holes in the product where contraband or other undesirable materials can be stored.
As mentioned above, perhaps the greatest benefit of polyethylene products is their durability. High impact polyethylene furniture is structurally robust, dent resistant and cannot rust. Additionally, polyethylene furniture that is manufactured as one piece is much less likely to break than furniture that is produced using multiple parts connected with mechanical fasteners. In a nutshell, the fewer the pieces the fewer the problems.
It is important to note that facilities should look for polyethylene products that have been manufactured using “compounding.” At Norix, compounding includes mixing all of the materials – polyethylene, color, fire retardants, etc. – then melting them together, making them homogenized and completely infused. The material is then extruded and chopped into small pellets with a die, then pulverized into powder before being rotational molded. That means every particle of the product contains equal amounts polyethylene along with all of the other additives, for superior coloring, fire retardant quality and durability.