Advantages of Using Thermoplastic Elastomer as an Alternative
At Kent Elastomer Products, we have a 58-year success story that includes being the only manufacturer of American-made natural rubber latex tubing — but it doesn’t stop there for us. We are also the leaders in product innovation and a line of products that includes high-quality thermoplastics, PVC tubing, dip-molded products, and non-latex Free-Band® tourniquets.
You may be familiar with natural rubber latex and its versatility thanks to the material’s resistance to wear and tear, strength, and elongation properties. Rubber is present nearly everywhere in our daily lives – from the tires under our cars and at the tip of our pencils to the exercise equipment we use. Like rubber, thermoplastic elastomer has many beneficial uses in our everyday lives, but you might not be as familiar with TPE’s properties.
Thermoplastic elastomers combine many of the properties of natural rubber latex, like elasticity and versatility, with the processing efficiency of plastics. The result is a highly resistant tubing material that is a top choice for medical and food & beverage industries and beyond!
What makes it “thermoplastic elastomer”?
These three characteristics are essential to qualify a material as a thermoplastic elastomer:
- Material must have ability to be stretched to moderate elongations and return to close to its original shape once the stress is removed.
- Material has no significant creep. Creep is the tendency of a solid material to move slowly or deform permanently under the influence of mechanical stresses.
- Material is processable as a melt at elevated temperature.
Advantages of Thermoplastic Elastomer
Versatile Compounds & Sizing
Thermoplastic elastomer’s versatility makes it so in demand. Kent Elastomer’s TPE tubing ranges from soft and jelly-like, to rigid and hard, depending on the product’s final use. Kent Elastomer’s TPE tubing is available in many different compounds and sizes, from .063″ I.D. with O.D.s up to 1”, with a wide range of wall thicknesses. Click here for an in-depth view of our TPE compound offerings and technical specs.
The material can be made flame-retardant – plus, TPE’s properties make it chemical resistant. Thermoplastic elastomer products also have outstanding thermal properties and stability when exposed to a broad range of temperatures and environmental effects. This stability when exposed to a broad range of temperatures and other materials means that this material leads to improved product quality.
With TPE there is improved consistency in both raw materials and fabricated products. The material requires little or no compounding, and no reinforcing agents, stabilizers or cure systems leading to an absence in variation between batches.
Eco-friendly & Biodegradable
Thermoplastic elastomer is eco-friendly because it is made out of non-toxic recycled biodegradable plastics. TPE materials have the potential to be recyclable since they can be molded, extruded and reused like plastics. TPEs also consume less energy during production, which is another reduction to our environmental footprint.
Medical and Food/Beverage Industry Safe
For the Medical and Food/Beverage Industries we carry FDA, NSF and USP Class VI material compounds so you can ensure our TPE products are safe. TPE materials are also great for these industries since they offer easy sterilization.
TPE is an efficient and cost-effective alternative for latex, silicone and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compounds – Our thermoplastic elastomer tubing is used as an alternative for many latex and silicone tubing applications.
Since thermoplastic elastomer is processable as a melt at elevated temperature, TPEs are a great choice for high-volume injection molding and extrusion.
TPE can be colored easily by most dyes – meaning our TPE tubing is available in a wide range of finishes and colors. We can match nearly any color and our offerings include fluorescents.
According to a market study, the worldwide usage of TPEs was only about 680,000 tons/year in 1990 but has been growing at rate of about nine percent per year. With that growth, it’s clear that many manufacturers are turning to thermoplastic elastomers for their product innovations – By 2014 the world market reached a volume of ca. 16.7 billion US dollars!
KEP’s TPE materials are the basis for many of our customer’s innovative and successful products.
Have an idea in mind that you think thermoplastic elastomer would be the perfect solution for? Whether you just want to talk about your options, or you’re already ready to get started with the prototyping phase, our experts at KEP are here to streamline the manufacturing process and ensure you end up with a high-quality finished product.
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