Innovating for the future

A win-win for performance and sustainability

High-density Polyethylene (HDPE)

The building material of the future

Damen is taking a leading role in the use of HDPE as a substitute for aluminium and GRP in the construction of a wide range of smaller working vessels. Its many advantages include high durability, low weight and it is easily recycled.

Introducing HDPE

HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is a man-made fibre known for its high strength-to-density ratio and durability. Already used in many industrial applications, it is also ideal for the building of small craft with characteristics that include high rigidity, easily moulded, impact resistant, long life and fully recyclable, as well as low maintenance, highly versatile, weather and water-proof, and simple to maintain.


At Damen we use HDPE to build the hulls and superstructures for a wide range of small craft and floating structures. These range from water taxis, patrol boats and long-line fishing boats to pontoons, jetties and other floating installations. We have the experience and expertise to design and build a wide range of vessels that make the best advantage of HDPE’s superior qualities.

An extraordinary material

Lighter than aluminium, resistant to corrosion and ultra-violet, easy to maintain and virtually indestructible, vessels built from HDPE offer years of dependable, low cost operations in any environment. High resistance to impacts from rocks and other sub-surface obstructions makes it ideal for boats operating in littoral and constricted environments in security and law enforcement roles, as well as maintenance, recovery and diverse support operations.

Easy to work with

Using HDPE basic plate material, hulls are manufactured using techniques similar to those applied to steel and aluminium. However, welding is done using a special, blow dryer MIG, method, so no precautions are required for skin and eye protection. Once complete, HDPE does not require painting, thereby reducing build time, costs and future maintenance.

Building for the future

The use of HDPE matches perfectly with Damen’s commitment to becoming the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder. Light weight means lower fuel consumption and once a vessel reaches its end of life, the HDPE used in its construction can be removed, cleaned and then shredded into granules that can be combined and reshaped using heat. The end result can be anything from milk bottles to pipes to new boats, and the process can be repeated indefinitely. These characteristics means that HDPE makes a valuable contribution to the achievement of a Circular Economy.

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