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TPE & TPR Bring the Flexibility of Rubber and Plastic Together

When your application calls for the characteristics of conventional rubber and manufacturing ease of polymers, thermoplastic rubber (TPR) and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) provide a solution. Learn more about these two important options for injection molded components below.

Looking to source thermoplastic elastomer injection molding for your project? Request a quote here.


Two important categories for rubber-like thermoplastics

Commercially available since the 1950s, thermoplastic elastomers are a unique category of engineering materials that can be processed just like other polymers but provide the look, feel, and elasticity of conventional rubber (a thermoset). 

Conventional rubber processing is much more expensive than injection molding, and TPE injection molding offers a much more cost-effective alternative. 

Thermoplastic rubbers refer to a specific type of TPE that is comparatively hard and rigid. TPR is often used in applications calling for heightened durability (like automotive components). By comparison, the broader category of TPEs includes softer, more flexible options, ideal for applications like seals and gaskets.


Characteristics of TPE

Most importantly, like conventional rubber, TPE material can be stretched and returned to its original shape when stress is removed. It does so while providing far easier manufacturability and many other valuable characteristics:

  • Amenability to high-pressure processing
  • Minimal creep
  • Good dielectric properties
  • High fatigue resistance and impact strength
  • Tearing and abrasion resistance
  • Resistance to weathering
  • Recyclability (unlike traditional vulcanized rubber)

Are TPE materials the right fit for your injection molded component? Explore our full set of material offerings here.


The Industries and Applications of TPE

Just about any industry that needs a highly manufacturable material with the properties of rubber can benefit from TPE/TPR components in the right applications. Because it is a durable, cost-effective alternative to rubber, it is a classic choice for automotive components. Other representative industries that employ TPE/TPR include:

  • Consumer goods
  • Healthcare
  • Construction
  • Electronics
  • Industrial Manufacturing

For each of these industries, TPE is called on to perform in applications including:

  • Soft grip applications like toothbrush handles and sports equipment grips
  • Footwear padding
  • Seals in applications ranging from medical devices to home windows/doors
  • Casing for electronic devices.
  • Medical bags, tubing, and other applications calling for durability and flexibility.

Need help finding the right injection molded rubber alternative for your component? Molding Dynamics can help. Learn more about our plastic injection molding capabilities here.

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