For some applications, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE’s) can be a viable material alternative to silicone rubber for the production of parts and components. This blog highlights the differences between TPE’s and silicones and discusses applications where TPE’s as an alternative to silicone rubber may be considered.
What are TPE’s?
TPE’s are thermoplastic rubbers. They are a special class of materials that consist of copolymers of plastic and rubber mixed together. As such, TPE’s combine the advantages of plastic and rubber materials: TPE’s can be compounded to have varying degrees of softness or hardness, as well as flexibility or stiffness.
TPE’s are increasingly used to manufacture parts and components, most often by extruding or injection molding the material into a finished part. There are six generic classes of TPE’s, including Thermoplastic Vulcanizates (TPV’s) of which Santoprene™ is the most widely known.
TPE’s as an alternative to silicone rubber: industrial and automotive uses
For some applications, TPE’s can be a lower-cost alternative to silicone rubber. While silicone rubber will often be the preferred material for parts which must be capable of withstanding high/low temperatures or pressures, and possess good chemical resistance, TPE’s can perform well where material softness/hardness, flexibility/stiffness, lightweighting, or resistance to abrasion are required. TPE’s compounded in higher durometers with non-extractables are now available to service some food-grade or pharmaceutical/medical applications.
As an example, in the automotive industry, where vehicle lightweighting has assumed heightened importance as automakers strive to build cars that are less heavy and more fuel efficient, parts made from Santoprene™ and other TPE materials are replacing those previously made from heavier materials such as EPDM rubber or metal. TPE’s can also replace silicone rubber in uses where the properties of silicone are not needed – examples include some medical or pharmaceutical uses.
TPE’s as an alternative to silicone rubber: parts from CRG
CRG can provide parts fashioned from TPE materials through extrusion, molding or cutting. Examples of parts we can supply includes the following:
- Weatherseals, including those for doors, windows, hoods, and trunks
- Air ducts and HVAC parts
- Bellows and sleeves
- Cable jacketing
- Grommets and plugs
- Molded and extruded parts
- Gaskets and seals
- Watertight seals and connectors for electrical and electronic applications
- Vibration dampeners
- Rail and bridge pads
- Custom fabricated parts
- Tubes and hoses
- Seals and gaskets
- Flexible and soft parts
If you have an application that could use parts made from TPE’s as an alternative to silicone rubber, CRG will be pleased to discuss your needs. The CRG sales team will be pleased to review your application and propose how we can service your needs. For further information, please contact our sales team at email@example.com.