TPU Meets the Manufacturing Challenges of a Fast-Changing World

TPU Meets the Challenge

To meet the manufacturing challenges of a fast-changing world, thermoplastic polyurethane offers outstanding versatility that makes it an excellent material and extremely popular across a range of industries and applications.

TPU is a versatile polymer whose benefits include:
  • Comes in a wide range of hardness grades
  • Excellent color-ability
  • Soft and processable when heated, hard when cooled
  • Maintains soft rubbery feel
  • Will not lose structural integrity when reprocessed multiple times
  • Resistant to abrasion, ozone, and to varying degrees, oil, grease, solvents, chemicals, and abrasion.
  • High elasticity and flexibility
  • High elongation and tensile strength
  • Ranks among the best for load-bearing capability
  • Great for use as a replacement for hard rubber

TPU’s characteristics make it great for extrusion or injection molding and it is a popular material for use in tubing, medical devices, sporting goods, cable, wire and other industrial products. It can also be compounded to create protective coatings or functional adhesives. The material’s desirable chemical and physical properties, excellent mechanical characteristics, and biocompatibility make TPU a great choice for medical applications.

How Did TPE Get Its Start?

German chemist Friedrich Bayer first studied polyurethane chemistry in 1937. To produce early prototypes, Bayer reacted toluene diisocyanate with dihydric alcohols. This is when one of the first crystalline polyurethane fibers Perlon U was developed.

During the days of World War II, when goals for rubber consumption exceeded the rate that natural rubber was being produced, finding a replacement for rubber was a top priority.

The development of elastic polyurethanes began as a program to find this replacement, producing the first polyurethane elastomers in 1940. These compounds could be used as an alternative to rubber that displayed similar properties and strength, without having to source rubber which could not be grown quickly enough to keep up with World War II consumption.

In the United States, in 1953, the first commercial production of a flexible polyurethane foam begun, for foam insulation. Moldable polyurethanes then started being produced during the late 1950s.

Production of Thermoplastic Polyurethane

Thermoplastic polyurethane is created when a polyaddition reaction occurs between a diisocyanate and one or more diols. Thermoplastic polyurethane’s first application was as a replacement for PVC. The appearance and touch of PVC were liked, but the performance was lacking in areas such as flex properties, abrasion resistance, low-temperature properties and others. Thermoplastic polyurethane not only boasts these strengths but maintains a soft rubbery feel and can be produced in a wide range of specifications and colors.

Quality TPU Products from KEP

To ensure the quality of our TPU products KEP monitors all phases of production and checks to ensure every product our customers receive has no inconsistencies and is high-quality.

Talk with us about how we can incorporate TPU in your prototype – we are here to take you from start to finish in your next project!

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