Elastomers have been the go-to material of choice for savvy design engineers and product managers who want an unbeatable combination of flexibility and durability in their products. In 2023, new trends in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technology and the market present more opportunities than ever before. This year’s top trends include responsible sustainable application development, customizable look and feel, retail re-emergence, reshoring, and creatively reducing cost through material substitution. Let's take a look at these trends in more detail.
Sustainability continues to be a growing priority for consumers. Responsible sustainable application development helps companies meet the demands of increasing customer demand and regulations. New, sustainable TPE materials offer great ways to reduce waste; they are recyclable and require fewer resources than other materials such as PVC or Silicone rubber. In addition to its environmental benefits, TPE is also highly versatile due to its ability to be molded into complex shapes without compromising performance or quality. It’s ideal for products that require varying levels of flexibility or softness depending on the application.
It’s safe to say that retail is coming back. In the first five months of 2022 alone, over 4,200 new stores opened; it’s the first time since 2016 that retail has seen more store openings than closings. Pictures and descriptions alone won’t drive consumer decisions; buyers will rely on touch, feel, and appearance before purchasing. Brands need to find ways to make a physical connection with customers. Expect TPE to be a key element of brand differentiation and customer appeal.
Innovative design with TPE
As companies look at ways to reduce costs while maintaining quality standards, they are utilizing TPE materials instead of traditional ones like PVC or silicone rubber. TPE is highly cost-effective due to its lower production costs compared to other materials. And as an added bonus, TPE can be recycled. Designers have more freedom than ever before when it comes to creating unique looks and feels thanks to the wide range of TPE properties available with this type of material platform.
After experiencing logistical snarls over the past couple of years, it’s no surprise that many companies have taken steps to streamline operations. They are now turning to reshoring - bringing production closer to their customers. By collaborating with suppliers who have experience in North America as well as a global reach, brands can quickly respond to customer needs and demands. With increased control over production processes comes increased customization possibilities and top tier quality. Now companies have the ability to create products that match their exact specifications without having to compromise on quality or struggle with long delivery lead times. Additionally, producing goods closer to the point of consumption allows for the use of more eco-friendly production processes and can improve product quality for the benefit of both customers and the company.
What does this mean for 2023?
Customize your TPE
The world of elastomers continues to evolve every day. New trends emerge and challenge old ways of thinking about this versatile material platform. The outlook for 2023 is promising with advancements in sustainability, retail re-emergence, reshoring opportunities, cost reduction measures through the creative use of TPEs, improved customization with thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), and enhanced manufacturing solutions thanks to increased control over production processes made possible by reshoring initiatives all offer bright prospects for design engineers and product managers alike this year!