​TPE, TPV, TPU: Decoding the Thermoplastic Elastomer Alphabet

Thermoplastic elastomers, or TPEs, are a broad class of polymer that includes a multi-phase polymer system. With so many variations and corresponding differences in properties and cost, how do you know which is right for your application?

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are a class of polymers that behave like thermoset rubber, but can be processed like a thermoplastic. There are varying approaches to achieving this combination of properties, but each approach includes a multi-phase polymer system with a hard phase and a soft phase. Any material that fits that criteria is generally referred to as a thermoplastic elastomer or a TPE.

Styrenic block copolymers (SBC) are one widely used material based on a styrene rigid phase and butadiene or isoprene soft phase. These materials are often used as a building block for other TPE compounds when blended with polypropylene, thermoplastic urethane, or copolyester. Other reactor grade resins that are TPEs are thermoplastic urethanes (TPU) and copolyesters (TPEE, TPC-ET).

  • A compound based on polypropylene and a styrenic block copolymer will generally be referred to as a TPE or TPE-S.
  • A compound based on thermoplastic urethane and a styrenic block copolymer will generally be referred to as a TPE or TPU, or TPE-U.
  • A compound based on a copolyester and a styrenic block copolymer will generally be referred to as a TPE or TPE-E.

Thermoplastic vulcanizates, or TPVs, constitute another approach to creating thermoplastic elastomer materials. TPVs are created by dynamically cross-linking a rubber while dispersing it in a rigid design through reactive extrusion.

Each of these approaches offer performance and cost trade-offs. The experienced team at Audia Elastomers can help you decode the TPE alphabet and identify the best solution for your application.

CONTACT

Choose from one of the many grades we have available, or let us design something just for you.

or feel free to call us

+1-724.206.2400