Do you know the things that differentiate a TPE and TPR stretch toy? If you don’t, then you are not alone. Many want to know what separates the two. Both TPR and TPE material belongs to the Thermoplastic Elastomers family. At the moment, there is no clear industry standard that differentiates them. The characteristics of these materials look very similar. Let’s begin the discussion with a quick comparison between them.
The following table shows that both look almost similar on the grounds:
|High-Flexural Resistance to Fatigue||High-Flexural Resistance to Fatigue|
|Resistance to Abrasions and Tears||Resistance to Abrasions and Tears|
|High Impact Resistance||High Impact Resistance|
|Good Dielectric Strength||Good Dielectric Strength|
|Excellent Chemical and Weather Resistance||Excellent Chemical and Weather Resistance|
|Temp. Range: -22°F – 284°F (-30°c – 140°c)||Temp. Range: -22°F – 284°F (-30°c – 140°c)|
By looking at the above details you will find that there is no difference between the TPE and TPR. So, what are the things that differentiate them? Let’s go through some basic differences between them.
Though they are very similar, there are still some differences between the TPE and TPR stretch toy materials. Those differences are related to the base materials. The modification of TPR and TPE is done with SBS and SEBS material, respectively. This is the basic difference between them. For a better understanding of the manufacturing process differences, it is important to go through SBS and SEBS base materials details.
SEBS is a hydrogenated SBS product and SBS is a styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymer that provides gentle-touch characteristics. These characteristics are used widely by designers, mostly in hand tools. What does it all mean regarding SEBS? It is a method of presenting molecular hydrogen (H2) to unsaturated compounds in specific reaction conditions. It also offers resistance to corrosion, higher heat, and yellowing than SBS. As a result, the TPE output is higher than TPR.
When it comes to TPE groups, there are many that you can choose from. These groups include TPE-O (polyolefin-blends), elastomeric alloys, TPE-S (styrene-block-copolymers), TPE-E (thermoplastic co-polyesters), TPE-A (thermoplastic polyamides), and TPE-U (thermoplastic polyurethanes). Because of the rubber and plastics flexibility, both TPR and TPE are used extensively in engineering for diverse applications. The unsaturated compound structure specifically in TPR is identical to the structure of the rubber. The elastic feel of the rubber is due to this.
The TPE is thermoplastic. However, its elasticity is similar to its rubber counterpart. This is measured by its hardness or softness through a sale called ‘Shore Durometer’. TPE comes as a soft-gel material from 20 OO Shore 90 AA Shore. It possesses identical properties to the cross-linked rubber. When it reaches 90 AA Shore, it is presented to a Shore-D scale. It means that you can formulate them for achieving up to 85 D Shore hardness.
TPRs are accessible in an array of durometers (20 OO Shore to 85 D Shore). Again, it line ups with the TPE. Now, let’s see what TPE is.
The TPR qualities are a combination of rubber properties with thermoplastics moulding capabilities. Some examples include a car’s custom-made floor mats and truck-bed liner material. TPRs hold their shapes and available in different flexibility levels. More rubber can be added to the chemical composition for enhanced flexibility. To minimize the irritating rubber smell, TPRs are formulated. They are lightweight and can be colored according to your specific needs.
There are a variety of application areas where TPRs are used, especially where gluing is a requirement. One example of it is a TPR stretch toy. Apart from that, they are used in:
Alike TPEs, TPRs combine plastics and rubber flexibility. When it comes to combustion, TPRs emit darker and thicker smoke while burning, unlike TPEs.
TPEs are made of hard and soft domains. They are multi-phase materials in a solid-state. You may think why they are rubbery and there is a very obvious reason behind it. The TPE’s unique design and temperature range are measured through the temperature of the glass transition. It is also measured by the glass transition or the melt temperature.
TPEs contain multiple polymer types and they are used for different applications, including:
Now, let’s go through the key differences between the TPE and TPR.
TPEs are matte and their appearance is always smooth with light astigmatism. It feels comfortable and smooth. In contrast, TPRs are more viscous, particularly during 30°c to 40°c. Here is the chemical resistance comparison table of TPR and TPE.
|Greases and Oils||Excellent||Excellent|
TPE is a cost-saving option as compared to the TPR. TPEs are cost-effective because they are treated with plastics machinery. Therefore, the price of a project becomes less. TPE is an ideal material when you need injection moulding in high volume.
Both TPE and TPR are 100% recyclable. You can use them 4-5 times, though the grades can vary. Engineers can count on TPEs because of this consistency for the project. The least manpower and energy saving are the benefits of TPEs. The cost often depends on the cavities to be fabricated during the manufacturing phases.
A rubber process requires double cavities, but the process of TPE still offers cost benefits. TPR combines the plastic processibility with thermoset rubber’s elasticity, feel, and look. This is where we need to understand that the qualities of TPE and TPR are almost the same.
Some say that the rubber material has better tensile strength, while TPEs are still considered ‘inferior’ regarding physical properties. However, you need to analyze the components of the projects on merits. For this, you should use the appropriate kit and tools for this job.
We have already talked about the key differences between TPE and TPR stretch toy materials, but let’s make it a little more concise for better understanding. TPR is comparatively a harder version of TPE. You use TPE in the cases where the project requires a little more softness and flexibility.
|Thermoplastic Elastomer||Manufacturing Process Differences||Pros||Cons||Applications|
|TPR||Modified with SBS material. The surface of particles is glossy and reflective.||The flexibility of plastics and rubber and more apparent reflection.||Emits darker, thicker smoke, while burning.||Products that require gluing or products that need a glossy coloring or surface.|
|TPE||Modified with SEBS. Light astigmatism mate surface.||The flexibility of rubber and plastics. Comfortable and smooth.||Emits thinner smoke, while burning.||Food products, healthcare, and medical, cap & closure liners, and sealing rings.|
So, now you should have a complete understanding of both TPE and TPR stretch toy materials. However, you can also try before purchasing by downloading free CADs online. Or, you can ask for free samples from the sellers. This will help you make sure that the solution you have selected is an appropriate solution for your project.
If you are still unsure, then you can also seek professional advice. Just ask the sellers for their expert advice and they will assist you in choosing the right material according to your project. We hope this guide has answered all the questions about TPE and TPR stretch toy materials that you might have in your mind.
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