Thermoplastic Elastomer film, cord and tube

TPE elastic materials

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are elastic plastics with several important benefits when compared to rubber. For example, because TPE is latex-free, it is safe for persons with latex allergy. This material is therefore highly suitable for use in medical disposables. Vreeberg produces TPEs for a wide range of applications by adjusting the composition and dimensions of the product.

Elastic and tough
TPE is one of the very few truly elastic plastic materials. This makes TPE ideal for applications requiring a combination of high elasticity, mechanical strength and a long lifetime. Typical applications are protective membranes, flexible couplings and pipes, and mechanical seals.

TPE is also an excellent material for elastic bands: the material always returns to the original shape after stretching.

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TPE: technical properties

Features

Stretchable and strong
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are a group of block copolymers composed of hard crystalline and soft rubber segments. This hybrid structure gives TPEs both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. We can influence these properties in two ways: by adjusting the nature of the hard and soft segments; and by modifying the ratio of hard to soft.

Stretch with strength
The main advantage of TPE is the ability to recover its shape after deformation. TPE has excellent impact resistance, even at temperatures as low as -40°C (depending on the chemical structure).

Product format
The thickness of TPE film ranges from 0.1 to 3 mm; the width is from 3 to 1000 mm.

Resistance to heat and chemicals
The heat and chemical resistance increases with the hardness and stiffness of the TPE. The hardest types can briefly withstand 150°C. The maximum temperature for a prolonged period is approximately 80°C.

Applications

Pharma

• Elastic bands, latex-free
• Elastic cuff
• Elastic membranes
• Waterproof sleeve for limbs, e.g. to create a watertight seal over casts, catheters and wounds during showering, bathing or swimming.

Manufacturing

• Pallet straps
• Carpet underlay
• Packaging elastic
• Elastic bands as substitute for steel springs
• Colour coding for pipework

Graphic industry & Design

• Elastic bands for brochures, folders, bundling of printed matter
• Jewellery

Energy & water

• Gaskets

Foodstuffs

• Elastic bands
• Packaging film

Construction & utilities

• Extruded seals
• Diaphragms

Benefits of TPEs

  1. Elasticity

    Excellent elasticity
    The high elasticity of TPE makes it ideal for e.g. sleeves, medical cuffs and elastic bands.

    Soft, flexible feel
    Pleasant tactile experience, suitable for ‘soft touch’ surfaces.

  2. Mechanical strength

    Superior UV and ozone stability
    Unlike natural rubber, TPE stays rubbery.

    High chemical resistance
    Resistant to widely-used cleaning agents and disinfectants, such as chlorine and alcohol solutions. The material can be cleaned in washing machines.

  3. Certification

    FDA material approval possible
    Approved for alimentary use in many countries.

    USP Class VI certification possible
    TPEs meet the highest standards for medical approval. On request we can provide certificates for the compounds used in production.

  4. Safety

    Latex and PVC-free
    No latex, so no allergic reaction. And also PVC-free: in certain instances, the plasticisers used in PVC can be detrimental to health. Being free of these substances, thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are therefore also suitable for e.g. toys.

    Optional flame retardant properties
    TPEs can be given extinguishing or flame-retardant properties. However, the addition of flame retardants strongly reduces the elasticity.

    Good alternative to synthetic rubber
    Unlike with synthetic rubber, the production of TPEs is free from emissions of harmful compounds such as PAHs. That makes TPEs a greener alternative for applications such as seals in drinking water systems, or as a filler on synthetic playing fields.

  5. Manufacturing

    Good adhesion to a large number of plastics
    TPE film can be fused to e.g. polyethylene film. A typical application area is for sterile covers for surgical equipment. Adhesion to polypropylene (PP) is also possible.

    Ability to create textile with elastic TPE layer
    You can apply a TPE layer to either or both sides of textiles. The textile is permanently bonded to the TPE film during the extrusion process. This way, materials can be constructed from multiple layers of polyester, fiberglass or other textiles.

    Readily tinted
    Vreeberg can produce TPE in many bright, vibrant colours – suitable for colour coding in the medical or construction sectors, for example, but also attractive for the design sector.

    Batches of any size
    TPEs can be produced in both large and small batches. By contrast, natural rubber products can often only be produced in very large quantities.

  6. Recycling

    Recyclable
    Finished TPE can be re-used as a raw material without problems. All of our start-up material and scrap is therefore fed back into the production process. We also accept scrap material from customers for re-use in production. A fantastic reason to have Vreeberg handle your slitting & die-cutting needs.

Limitations of TPEs

  1. High temperature

    The material cannot sustain high temperatures. The maximum permissible temperature is 140°C. To a limited extent, steam sterilisation is possible. The best options for sterilisation are gamma irradiation and EtO.

  2. Specific substances

    TPE is not resistant to:
    • strong acid and alkali
    • absolute alcohol
    • halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons
    • oils and fats

TPU: hard-wearing, flexible

Do you need a durable, flexible plastic? Vreeberg also produces TPU: Thermoplastic Polyurethane.

Leran more about TPU >