In order to qualify as a thermoplastic elastomers, a material must have these three essential characteristics:
1. The ability to be stretched to moderate elongations and, upon the removal of stress, return to something close to its original shape.
2. Processable as a melt at elevated temperature.
3. Absence of significant creep.
One advantage is that thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) materials have the potential to be recyclable since they can be molded, extruded and reused like plastics, but they have typical elastic properties of rubbers which are not recyclable owing to their thermosetting characteristics.
There are six generic classes of TPEs
- Styrenic block copolymers (TPE-s or TPS compounds based on SBS, SEBS)
- Polyolefin blends (TPE-O or TPO)
- Elastomeric alloys (TPE-V or TPV)
- Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPE-U or TPU)
- Thermoplastic copolyester (TPE-E or TPC))
Thermoplastic polyamides (TPE-A or TPA)
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