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The difference and application analysis of TPE and TPU materials

The difference and application analysis of TPE and TPU materials

  • Categories:Industry news
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  • Time of issue:2021-08-09 13:54
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(Summary description)

The difference and application analysis of TPE and TPU materials

(Summary description)

  • Categories:Industry news
  • Author:
  • Origin:
  • Time of issue:2021-08-09 13:54
  • Views:


In a broad sense, TPE refers to all thermoplastic elastomers, including SBS, SEBS, SIS, SEPS, TPO, TPV, TPU, TPVC, TPEE, TPA, etc.


But! Domestic called "TPE" material, basically belongs to styrene thermoplastic elastomer. Therefore, the TPE mentioned in the following and TPU phase are styrene thermoplastic elastomers.


Although TPE and TPU have a different letter, they are similar in appearance, performance and even use. They both have a certain softness and rubber elasticity, and can be used in shoe materials, smart speakers, smart wristbands, mobile phone protective cases and other materials.



图 TPE 和 TPU粒子


Therefore, in order to let you have a more comprehensive understanding of the two materials, the following will be from the molecular structure, synthesis method, the means to control the hardness, the difference method and other aspects of analysis and comparison, in order to better distinguish between the two.




TPE is a thermoplastic elastomer of styrene, a copolymer of butadiene or isoprene with styrene block polymerization. TPU is a polyurethane thermoplastic elastomer, which is a block copolymer formed by reaction polymerization of diisocyanate molecules, polyols and chain extenders.


They are both block copolymers, but their hard and soft segments are not the same. The hard segment of TPE is polystyrene and the soft segment is butadiene or hydrobutadiene. The hard chain segment of TPU is diisocyanate and chain extender, while the soft chain segment is oligomer polyol long chain.


图 TPE 和 TPU 结构式比较




The synthesis of TPE is generally obtained by first reacting an equal part of styrene, then adding butadiene, and finally adding the second part of styrene by anion sequence polymerization. TPU is generally obtained by bulk melting polycondensation of diisocyanate and polyol or solution polycondensation.


In terms of polymerization mechanism, the synthesis of TPE belongs to anionic polymerization mechanism and TPU belongs to polycondensation polymerization mechanism.





Both TPE and TPU can adjust the hardness and have a certain hardness range. For example, the hardness range of TPE can vary from 0A to 100A, while the hardness range of TPU is usually from 60A to 70D.


TPE can control hardness by adjusting the content of styrene and the degree of addition of vinyl. Little vinyl is soft, it can be as soft as a PE plastic bag, and more vinyl is hard because of the high Tg.


But it is worth noting that TPE is rarely used alone, and is often mixed with a variety of materials, such as a typical shoe material TPE consists of 30%TPE, 30% oil, 15% polystyrene, and 25% talc or calcium carbonate. This makes its hardness adjustment means more diverse.


The hardness of TPU is mainly adjusted by adjusting the proportion of diisocyanate and polyol, which is usually used alone or with a small amount of additives.




The performance of TPE and TPU is quite similar. It is impossible to distinguish them by the naked eye, but they can be distinguished by some simple methods.


1 knead with the hand knead with the hand, mainly see the resilience. The elastic recovery of TPE is slower, while that of TPU is faster, because the material structure of TPU is polymer homogeneous structure, which belongs to the polymer resin class. While TPE is a multicomponent composite alloy with multiphase structure. TPE with high hardness is easy to deform products, while TPU shows excellent elasticity in all hardness ranges and products are not easy to deform. If you can't handle it with your hands, you can use a clamp and hold it for 24 hours to make it easier to see how easy it is to recover.


2. In terms of hand feel, TPE feels more delicate, while TPU feels a little rough. Their hardness can roughly reflect a little difference, TPE belongs to the middle and low hardness, more excellent in touch comfort, TPU belongs to the middle and high hardness, more excellent in elasticity and strength.


3. When burning TPE with fire, the flame is yellow and blue, and there are slight bubbles at the bottom of the flame. The smell is special aroma and oil smell (oil smell is PP component burning smell). When TPU is burning, the flame is basically yellow, the bottom of the flame is foaming, there is a slight explosion sound, with a certain irritating odor.


4 Take a Closer Look Although most TPE and TPU products are black, there are also transparent products. For transparent products, TPU is more transparent than TPE, and it is not as sticky as transparent TPE.


These are four simple methods to identify TPE and TPU, for reference only. As the saying goes, practice leads to true knowledge. Only by practicing more, can we have a deeper understanding of the subtle differences.


Learning to distinguish them will help us to choose better and more suitable materials for our products. The following continues from some application point of view to say that the two in the selection of some considerations.




Hard glue and soft glue are common compound types in two-color injection molding, among which there are TPE and TPU two kinds of soft glue.


Generally speaking, the choice of TPE or TPU is some general principles, such as the hardness requirement is low, TPE is more appropriate; To feel soft and comfortable, TPE is more suitable than TPU; If wear resistance and elasticity are required, TPU is more suitable.

图 双色注塑软胶选择,源自网络




The price of TPE material mobile phone protective case will be cheaper, there will be a comfortable soft touch, and can be coated with PC, ABS and other plastic molding, production of composite material mobile phone protective case, give the product a special soft and hard touch.


TPU mobile phone protective cases are characterized by high transparency, high wear resistance, outstanding bearing capacity, impact resistance and shock absorption.


图 透明的是TPU,白色是TPE,东莞和鑫产品图




In everyday wearable products, watches can be made of TPE or TPU materials. Both of them are environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials, which can pass the test of no allergy to human body. In terms of comfort, processing, antibacterial, yellow resistance and other aspects, TPE is more suitable than TPU; If durable wear is required, TPU is better.


图 北京燕阳TPU表带


The above is the difference and application analysis of TPE and TPU materials. Have you learned it?





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