Nowadays, with the application of TPE materials becoming more and more extensive, the demand for TPE materials is also increasing.
The TPE material can provide materials with diversified physical properties and hardness through the change of formula and proportion, so as to meet the performance requirements of different products. So what are the characteristics of TPE materials?
TPE materials have the following characteristics:
Elastic is the difference between TPE and other polymer materials. Elasticity refers to the property that TPE material will deform under the action of external force, but the material can return to its original shape after the external force is removed. The elastic property of TPE material, its elastic recovery, is inferior to that of vulcanized rubber. Because vulcanized rubber is vulcanized, the material is cross-linked network structure, while TPE is a block structure of hard segment and soft segment, and the structure formed by rubber phase and reinforced plastic is also physically cross-linked. Compared with the physical crosslinked structure of TPE, the crosslinked network structure of vulcanized rubber has better resistance to permanent deformation, or the resistance to permanent deformation of TPE needs to be improved, and there is obvious stress relaxation. Moreover, the elastic recovery of different TPE blending systems is different.
Softness is the tactile characteristic of TPE materials. Nowadays, people are increasingly pursuing comfortable skin touch and softness. TPE is a soft material, and its softness and hardness can be widely adjusted by adjusting the blending system (TPE hardness can be widely adjusted from 0 to 0~100A). At present, many products in TPE application industry, such as wires, sex toys, soles, various tools (handles), etc., make full use of the flexible characteristics of TPE, bringing users a comfortable soft touch experience.
Plasticity is an important processing characteristic of TPE materials. Plastic means that TPE materials can be repeatedly plasticized at high temperature, and the materials can be recycled and reused. This is also the advantage of TPE compared with rubber. Waste rubber products cannot or are difficult to recycle, while TPE waste can be recycled 100%. The plastic property of TPE makes TPE can be quickly molded by injection and extrusion, which greatly shortens the production and processing cycle compared with rubber. Therefore, TPE is also called thermoplastic rubber.
Stickiness is the processing characteristic of TPE materials. Here, it does not mean that the surface of TPE material itself is sticky, but it means that TPE material can be combined with other materials (usually plastics) to form an integral product through injection extrusion process. The adhesive property of TPE is more commonly known in the industry as encapsulation (coating secondary injection molding).
The adhesion of TPE is mainly based on the similar polarity (close solubility parameter) between TPE and the adhered plastic. Under the condition of high-temperature plasticizing and melting, TPE and the coated plastic are fused and ablated and infiltrated at molecular level, and the bonding effect is firm and lasting after being cooled at room temperature. The adhesion of TPE usually works together with its flexibility to create a brand-new soft touch world for people.
Safety refers to the environmental protection and safety of TPE materials, and whether it is harmful to human body. TPE material does not contain toxic plasticizer (o-benzene), PAHs of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, NP of nonylphenol, bisphenol A, low VOC volatilization, and meets the environmental protection test. TPE is an environmentally friendly, safe and nontoxic material. At present, TPE is widely used in household products, kitchen utensils, medical products, automobile accessories and other products, and is in close contact with people.
Set, is the customization of TPE materials. The application fields of thermoplastic elastomer TPE materials are gradually expanding and deepening, and users’ requirements for materials will become more and more special and personalized. In addition to conventional injection molding and encapsulating TPE, in recent years, users are looking for TPE materials with special requirements such as foamability, conductivity, chemical resistance, aging resistance, (halogen-free) flame retardant, blow molding, laser welding, laser engraving, etc. This puts forward higher requirements for TPE manufacturers’ R&D and innovation ability of materials.