The U.S. Army & Rotomolding Polyethylene

Glenn Beall

The rotational molding (RM) process existed for 90 years before there was a moldable plastic material.  In 1948 Italian Patent #440,295 discussed the RM of liquid polyvinyl chloride (plastisol) .  Low and high density polyethylene were discovered in 1933 and 1957 respectively.  The first moldable polyethylene powder was introduced in 1961.

The U.S. Army became interested in RM polyethylene for fuel tanks and impact resistance containers.  In order to accelerate the adoption of the process, the Plastics Technical Evaluation Center and the Defense Department’s Specialized Information Center compiled a RM “Engineering Design Handbook” in April 1975.

There are surprisingly comprehensive and relevant chapters devoted to in-depth discussions of molds, processing equipment, processing parameters, quality control, part design, RM advantages and disadvantages, economics and applications.

The 55 page chapter on materials covers acetate, ABS, cellulosics, fluorocarbons, ionomers, Nylon 6-11-12, polybutylene, polycarbonate, polyethylene low-high density and cross-linked, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride.

This book which would be a good addition to any RM Reference Library is identified as ” Engineering Design Handbook Rotational Molding of Plastic Powder” #AMCP 706-312.

You can download the book here.

Glenn Beall is an engineer, consultant, educator and editor who played a key role in the advancement of plastics design. He is also a member of the Rotational Molding Hall of Fame

The ARM Blog is written by a variety of leaders in the rotational molding industry. We encourage you to share your input in the comment section. If you’re interested in writing a post for the blog, email ARM staff at

One response to “The U.S. Army & Rotomolding Polyethylene”

  1. Thank you, Glenn, for sharing this interesting piece of roto-history. In addition to the many applications of the rotomolding process, providing a valuable solution for our military should make us even prouder to be part of this industry.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: