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Thermoplastic Elastomer TPE Polymers

Thermoplastic Elastomer TPE Polymers

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 its design temperature range, possesses elastomeric behaviour without cross-linking during fabrication. This process is reversible and the products can be reprocessed and remoulded.

Even though TPE Polymers are thermoplastic, they exhibit elasticity similar to that of a cross-linked rubber. Designers increasingly use TPE polymers 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 thermoplastic elastomer polymers, 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 and 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 elastomer polymers end up as land fill. Additional advantages over thermoset rubber provided by thermoplastic elastomer polymers include excellent colourability and a lower density.

Main Characteristics of Thermoplastic Elastomer TPE Polymers:
- Excellent flexural fatigue resistance;
- Resistance to Low & High Temperatures from 30degC to +140degC;
- High impact strength;
- Low specific gravity;
- Excellent resistance to chemicals & weathering;
- Good electrical properties;
- Good tear & abrasion resistance;
- Colourability;
- Recyclable;
- Possess low Compression Set;
- Co-injection & co-extrusion with Polyolefins & certain Engineering Plastics.

Typical applications of Thermoplastic Elastomer TPE Polymers:
- Wire and Cables;
- Power and Hand Tools;
- Pen Grips;
- Airbag Covers;
- Grips and Handles;
- Plugs, Seals and Grips.

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