WHAT IS TPE ?
Thermoplastic Elastomers are generally low modulus, flexible materials that can be stretched repeatedly to at least twice their original length at room temperature with an ability to return to their approximate original length when stress is released.
The grandfather materials with this property are thermoset rubbers, but many families of injection-moldable thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are replacing traditional rubbers. In addition to use in their basic form, TPEs are widely used to modify the properties of rigid thermoplastics, usually improving impact strength. This is quite common for sheet goods and general molding TPEs.
WHAT ARE PROPERTIES OF TPE PLASTIC?
Depending on the environment, TPEs have outstanding thermal properties and material stability when exposed to a broad range of temperatures and non-polar materials.
TPE consume less energy to produce, can be colored easily by most dyes, and allow economical quality control.
TPE requires little or no compounding, with no need to add reinforcing agents, stabilizers or cure systems. Hence, batch-to-batch variations in weighting and metering components are absent, leading to improved consistency in both raw materials and fabricated articles.
TPE materials have the potential to be recyclable since they can be molded, extruded and reused like plastics, but they have typical elastic properties of rubbers which are not recyclable owing to their thermosetting characteristics. They can also be ground up and turned into 3D printing filament with a recyclebot.
- TPEs are used where conventional elastomers cannot provide the range of physical properties needed in the product. These materials find large application in the automotive sector and in household appliances sector.
- TPEs are used in snowmobile tracks where stiffness and abrasion resistance are at a premium. Thermoplastic olefins (TPO) are increasingly used as a roofing material.
- TPEs are also widely used for catheters where nylon block copolymers offer a range of softness ideal for patients.
- TPE is commonly used to make suspension bushings for automotive performance applications because of its greater resistance to deformation when compared to regular rubber bushings.
- Thermoplastics have experienced growth in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry due to the function, cost effectiveness and adaptability to modify plastic resins into a variety of covers, fans and housings.
- TPE may also be used in medical devices, electrical cable jacket and inner insulation, sex toys, and some headphone cables.