TPE Vs TPV: What’s The Difference?

Manufacturing industries use plastic and rubber as some of their most renowned material. We rely on and consume many products from these materials every day. However, thermoplastics are ideal for their ability to become pliable & moldable when heated. Conversely, elastomers are renowned for their elasticity and resilience. Now imagine combining both of these materials into one. What do we get? We get a combination of features, both thermoplastic & elastomeric. However, among wide varieties, TPE & TPV are the most popular. These two materials are very suited to particular purposes. With this in mind, when selecting a good product for your project, you must comprehend TPE vs TPV.

The article aims to provide a fundamental understanding of TPE vs TPV. It begins with highlighting the primary differences. In the later sections, it introduces TPE & TPV separately. Each of these headings includes their features, benefits, and limitations. We hope this article can be your best guide while making the right decision between TPE & TPV.

Thermoplastic Elastomer(TPE) Introduction

What is TPE?

First of all, we should understand the abbreviation of TPE material. TPE stands for Thermoplastic Elastomers. As the name implies, we can see that this material is both one type of thermoplastic & elastomer. Therefore, thermoplastic elastomers TPE are often recognized as thermoplastic rubber. In short, a TPE is a type of polymer that exhibits both thermoplastic & elastomeric properties.

We can melt & mold thermoplastic elastomer TPE when heated like traditional thermoplastic materials. We can also get elastomeric characteristics such as flexibility, resilience, and elasticity. Because of these properties, TPE rubber or TPE plastic is prevalent in a wide range of applications.

How is Thermoplastic Elastomer Made?

The manufacturing process of thermoplastic elastomer TPE involves multiple steps. First, the materials are poured into the hopper. And then, these materials are gradually heated & pushed toward the extrusion chamber using a screw. The extrusion chamber shapes the molten plastics & rubbers into the desired profiles. The palletizing process cut the extrudate into small TPE pellets.

The further manufacturing process may vary based on the type of thermoplastic elastomer TPE products. The general extrusion process typically creates different kinds of TPE seal strips & tubes. On the other hand, injection molding methods make different products like bottles & containers. 

Benefits of TPE Seal Strips

We know that TPE or thermoplastic elastomer provides both thermoplastic & elastomeric properties. As a result, they provide the benefits of the combination of these two properties. However, some significant advantages of TPE are flexibility, weather & chemical resistance, and elasticity.

  1. TPE seal strips are highly flexible. It can conform to irregular shapes & surfaces.
  2. They have excellent rebound & recovery properties. It allows them to return to their original shape after deformation. Note that this excellent elasticity is crucial for maintaining consistent seals over time.
  3. TPE seal strips provide effective sealing against different environmental elements. As a result, it can be used as weather stripping at houses, offices, factories, and automobile vehicles.
  4. One of the most popular benefits of TPE is its ability to provide multiple colors.
  5. Other benefits include being grippy, tear-resistant, lightweight, transparent, and pliable in cold weather.

Limitations of TPE Elastomer

However, TPE has its advantages, but limits are bound to appear in the specific applications. To begin with, TPE elastomers may have a limitation concerning the temperature they can withstand. It may depend on the type of formulation. Hence, it may not be suitable for high temperatures. In addition, TPE has a limitation in certain chemicals. In this case, some chemicals and solvents are too aggressive for TPE elastomers.

Wide Applications of TPE Seal Strips

TPE seal strips are popular in applications requiring flexibility, resilience, and sealing properties. Some common industries where TPE finds applications are automotive, construction, HVAC, and medical.

In the automotive industry, TPE seal strips create weatherstrips & gaskets for doors, windows, and trunks. They provide a waterproof & airtight seal. It reduces noise & drafts and protects from moisture & dust. In construction, TPE elastomers are prevalent in sealing gaps & joints in doors, windows, and curtain walls. Similar applications can be found in HVAC systems, aerospace, and marine.

In the medical industry, TPE material is used to make medical equipment & devices. TPE helps to create a secure seal in applications like tubing & connectors, ensuring hygiene & safety. In Industrial equipment, TPE seal strips provide sealing & cushioning. Various machinery, conveyors and other systems utilize TPE seal strips for shock absorption.

Thermoplastic Vulcanisates(TPV) Introduction

What is TPV?

TPV stands for thermoplastic vulcanizate. TPV is also a type of thermoplastic & elastomer. As the name implies, the “vulcanizate” refers to the combination of vulcanized rubbers in the chemical composition. The vulcanization of EPDM within the polypropylene enhances compression set resistance in TPVs. As a result, TPV compounds offer elastomeric features. For example, compression & tension set and resistance to chemicals are noteworthy.

These physical & chemical properties allow TPV products to offer both rubber-like & thermoplastic benefits. We can melt & mold thermoplastic vulcanizate elastomers when heated like traditional thermoplastic materials. However, we can also get elastomeric benefits, both rubber-like elasticity and long-term durability. Overall, all these features make TPVs a versatile choice for various applications.  

How is Thermoplastic Vulcanizate Made?

The manufacturing process of thermoplastic vulcanizate TPV is similar to TPE. The only difference is in the blending stage. TPVs are made by blending a thermoplastic material and elastomeric material. In this case, polypropylene and EPDM are used as the elastomeric material. Note that EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. The engineers chose these materials to ensure unique compatibility & desired performance characteristics.

The other stages, like extrusion, pelletizing, molding, and processing, are similar to TPE. Now, these TPV pellets are ready to be used in product manufacturing. In this case, the extrusion process is prevalent for manufacturing seal strips & tubes. On the other hand, injection molding is famous for making bottles & containers.

Benefits of TPV Product

Thermoplastic vulcanizate elastomer offers a wide range of benefits in various applications. These benefits make them popular in automotive, construction, and other industries.

  1. The presence of EPDM in the material composition offers excellent weather resistance. As a result, TPV is prevalent for weatherstripping in houses, offices, apartments, and factories.
  2. TPVs exhibit good resistance to compression sets. Therefore, they can maintain their shape and sealing effectiveness under high pressure. Ultimately, it ensures long-term performance.
  3. Other benefits include elasticity, customizability, ease of installation, and durability.

Limitations of TPV Thermoplastic

While providing many benefits, TPV thermoplastic also has some limitations. Here are some of the disadvantages of using TPV thermoplastic.

  1. Compared to EPDM compression molds, tooling for TPV thermoplastic can be expensive.
  2. Limited to some chemical applications, primarily hot oils & aqueous solutions
  3. TPV thermoplastic provides inferior wear resistance compared to a typical rubber.

TPE vs TPV: What’s the Difference?

While discussing TPE vs TPV, the first thing that comes to our mind is their material composition. Here is the primary difference we may find in TPE vs TPV. TPE & TPV are both thermoplastic elastomers. But, TPV utilized vulcanized rubber. Here, the vulcanized rubber is EODM within the polypropylene. However, TPV offers more benefits than TPE.

To make the understanding easy, we created the following table on TPE vs TPV. It’s a quick difference table highlighting the fundamental differences between TPE & TPV.

FactorsTPETPV
AbbreviationThermoplastic ElastomerThermoplastic vulcanizate
CompositionA blend of thermoplastic & elastomeric materialsPrecisely, TPV blends a thermoplastic & vulcanized EPDM rubber within polypropylene.
ElasticityComparatively more elastic than TPVAlso flexible, but not superior to TPE
Temperature ResistanceLimited to high-temperature applicationsSuitable for high-temperature applications due to vulcanized rubber content
Chemical ResistanceLimited to applications involving aggressive chemicalsTPV offers food chemical resistance. But may still be sensitive to hot oils & aqueous solutions.
UV ResistanceUV sensitive, leading to severe degradation over timeTPV offers better UV resistance due to the presence of EPDM rubber
Abrasion ResistanceLess abrasion resistant than TPVTPV offers good abrasion resistance due to its vulcanized rubber content
Compression and tension setsGood, but it may not be as good as TPVs in this aspectTPV exhibits excellent compression & tension set resistance.
Manufacturing CostTypically, a cost-effective solutionsCompared to EPDM compression molds, tooling for TPV thermoplastic can be expensive.

Final Thought

Let’s wrap all things up! We have gone through the fundamentals of TPE vs TPV in brief. The primary difference between TPE & TPV is their material composition. Both of these materials are thermoplastic & elastomeric. But, TPV requires vulcanizate rubber, which includes EPDM rubber within polypropylene. The presence of EPDM provides extra layers of benefits. However, the manufacturing process of TPV is more expensive than TPE.

Above all, if you have any questions regarding TPE vs TPV, don’t hesitate to contact us. While making the right decision, it’s wise to seek professional help.