Developments in Thermoplastic Elastomers by K.E. Kear

By K.E. Kear

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) have the elastic behaviour of rubber and the processability of thermoplastics. The chemistry, houses and processing of those fabrics are mentioned during this assessment. professional grades are being brought for particular functions and with precise houses, equivalent to softness or processability. The overview is observed by way of round four hundred abstracts from the Rapra Polymer Library database.

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A detailed study of any given application’s performance requirements versus the attribute list and other physical and chemical properties will be needed for adopting a TPE in a similar or equivalent application. Specific grade variations and performance requirements must be evaluated carefully before deciding to use the TPE in a new application in development. Laboratory test data and field Developments in Thermoplastic Elastomers Table 7 Example list of applications for TPEs Electrical connectors Appliance feet Toothbrush grips Dust covers Auto trim Keypad membranes Flooring mats Cosmetic packaging Footwear components Sporting good grips Hose cover Soft touch bottle caps Wire insulation Houseware grips Air bag door cover Bicycle racks Auto bumpers Bottle seals Shoe soles Oil filter seals Syringe plungers Dryer door seals Ball bladders Brake seals Caster wheels Convoluted hose Appliance grips Squeegee blades Pump diaphragms Steering gear boots Appliance bumper Grease seals Suspension boots Drive axle boots Vacuum connectors Pond liners Torque coupling Auto seals Coiled cord jacketing Film packaging layer Architectural seals Lighting seals Container lip seals Expansion joints Flashlight Door latches Appliance motor mounts Portable electronics housing Sound deadening covers Hydraulic hose Pipe seals Roof sheeting Soft touch knobs Vacuum seals Hot melt adhesive Refrigeration mounts Medical stoppers Washing machine seals Plumbing vent seals Peristaltic tube performance tests are generally recognised as necessary steps to prove the suitability of the TPE for an application.

However, due to the highly engineered nature, complex processing and cost requirements the current TPEs are not used in any significant way in pneumatic tyres for automotive, truck, etc. Some solid tyres have used reaction injection moulding (RIM) TPU technology. But the penetration of TPEs into the solid tyre area is pretty limited largely due to the long cooling times required of very thick wall parts, which makes TPE processing uncompetitive with RIM. Two primary concepts may drive the use of TPEs in a given market application.

There are TPE grades from nearly every class of TPE that will process by blow moulding. The simplest process is continuous extrusion blow moulding where a molten TPE parison is continuously extruded until long enough. Then the blow mould closes onto the parison and air pressure inflates it to form it to the shape of the mould cavity. As the parison is extruding the TPE must have sufficient melt strength to avoid drooping and thinning out prior to the mould close. Typical process conditions for extrusion blow moulding of several different TPEs are shown in Table 5.

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