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Thermoplastic Elastomers TPE, TPR

Introduction

The formal definition of a thermoplastic rubber or elastomer (TPE) is “a polymer blend or compound which, above its melt temperature, exhibits a thermoplastic character that enables it to be shaped into a fabricated article and which, within it’s design temperature range, possesses elastomeric behaviour without cross-linking during fabrication. This process is reversible and the products can be reprocessed and remoulded.

Properties of ITE TPEs

Even though ITE TPEs are thermoplastic, they exhibit elasticity similar to that of a cross-linked rubber. A key indicator is their softness or hardness value as measured on the Shore durometer scale. Like crosslinked rubber, TPEs are available as very soft gel materials from 5 Shore A up to 90 Shore A, at which point they enter the Shore D scale and can be formulated to give hardness values up to 85 Shore D, which designates a material that is very hard.

Designers increasingly use TPEs due to the significant cost savings possible because their ability to be processed on plastics machinery.   Conventional rubber, whether natural or synthetic, is a thermosetting material that must undergo a chemical cross-linking reaction during moulding or extrusion, typically called curing or vulcanization. Due to this reaction it is not generally processable in standard thermoplastic equipment. The time that it takes for the vulcanization reaction to complete is influenced by many factors, however it is typical that this is somewhere between 1 minutes and several hours. The thermoplastic moulding and extrusion processes used for TPEs, on the other hand, avoid the cross-linking step and can achieve very fast cycles times, which can be as little as 20 seconds. Environmental an cost pressures require more and more materials to be recycleable, TPE processing scrap, reject parts or end of life products can be easily reprocessed, whereas most thermosetting elastomers end up as land fill.

Additional advantages over thermoset rubber provided by TPEs include excellent colourability and a lower density.

INDIA THERMOPLASTICS ENGINEERS manufactures one of the world’s most diversified ranges of TPE compounds.   These are supplied under trade name of ITE .

Here is why ITE TPEs are among the fastest-growing plastics materials:

  • TPEs are a unique class of engineering materials combining the look, feel and elasticity of conventional thermoset rubber with the processing efficiency of plastics.
  • The melt-processability of TPEs makes them very suitable for high-volume injection moulding and extrusion. They can also be reclaimed and recycled.   
  • As elastomers, TPEs exhibit high elasticity. Our range of grades encompasses rubberlike properties and offer a wide range of durometers, low compression set, and high elongation.

 

Grades available Of ITE in the TPE industry
There are seven main TPE groups available commercially and these are listed in approximate ascending price order:
  • Styrenic Block Copolymers (TPE-S)  SBS is based on two-phase block copolymers with hard and soft segments. The styrene end blocks provide the thermoplastic properties and the Butadiene mid-blocks provide the elastomeric properties. SBS and SEBS is probably the highest volume TPE-S material produced. Applications specification seals, grips, O rings, cable, pen grips, droppers, toothbrush, etc. Where resistance to chemicals and aging is priority. 
  • Thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPE-V or TPV) :There are a number of new TPE-Vs being introduced, termed “Super TPVs” which are based on engineering plastics blended with high performance elastomers, which can offer greatly improved heat and chemical resistance.
  • Thermoplastic Rubber  (TPR, TR)  These materials are  be based on polystyrene, SIS and SBS chemistry and are used in applications where a product requires excellent tear strength, abrasion resistance, and flex fatigue resistance, clinging applications.  Example include shoe soles, commonly used in footwear, adhesives, bitumen modification.  Hardness is restricted to the high end of the Shore A scale, typically >80 Shore A.
  • Polymer modifies- these compounded granules offer the good Impact Strength, high MFI  , have good effects  and bonding to polyamide, GPPS, HIPS, PP,ABS and engineering plastics. Their applications include chairs, buckets, HIPS sheets, Nylon motor parts, ABS and many more polymers. 
Due to the wide range of TPEs on the market and the ever expanding range of applications it is critical that the designers and specifiers of products using TPEs remain abreast of the most recent innovations from industry suppliers. The following is only a snapshot of what can be achieved with TPE materials and we strongly urge readers to contact India Thermoplastics Engineers to discuss their application in detail and obtain the most up-to date advice.
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
  • Tensile Strength  0.5 - 2.4 N/mm²  
  • Notched Impact Strength  no break Kj/m²  
  • Thermal Coefficient of expansion  130 x 10-6  
  • Max Cont Use Temp  up to 140 oC  
  • Density  0.91 - 1.3 g/cm3  



Main Characteristics

Excellent flexural fatigue resistance

Good electrical properties

Good tear & abrasion resistance

Resistance to Low & High Temperatures from -30degC to +140degC

High impact strength

Colourability

Low specific gravity

Recyclable

Excellent resistance to chemicals & weathering

Possess low Compression Set

Co-injection & co-extrusion with Polyolefins & certain Engineering Plastics

 



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