Do you know the difference between thermoplastic elastomers and UV resistance?
For starters, thermoplastic elastomers are raw materials utilized for the production of consumer goods and other products. On the other hand, ultraviolet resistance is a characteristic that many products have, including polymers and thermoplastic elastomers. Therefore, the difference between each concept is that one can be molded into a product while the other is nothing more but a characteristic associated with such goods.
This post will guide you through the essential aspects of thermoplastic elastomers and UV resistance, as well as how both of these terms are deeply co-related.
What are thermoplastic elastomers?
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are rubber like-material used for manufacturing different products, including consumer goods, automotive parts, and other applications. TPEs can be categorized into different types. However, due to their consistency, it can be a cost-effective option to process different products in diverse industries.
TPEs can be categorized into different products, including TPA, TPC, TPU, TPO, TPV, and TPS. Each option is used in different applications, providing the main material with a ton of versatility.
Thermoplastic elastomers must be heated to be processed. It can be either through injection molding or extrusion, for instance. TPEs regain their elastic properties after cooling down, which makes them recyclable as regular thermoplastics. However, unlike thermoplastics, it is not possible to process TPEs through melting.
What is TPE used for?
As mentioned, TPE is used in different applications. It has several practical uses in different industries, but some of the most popular include the following:
- In industrial products, you can find TPEs in items like tool handles or cable grommets.
- Certain compounds based on TPEs can be found in medical applications, although those have to comply with very strict requirements. Some of the most common examples include seals or medical tubing.
- In consumer goods, thermoplastic elastomers are more diverse. You can find them in toys, packaging, and even hygiene items like toothbrushes, as mentioned.
As evidenced, TPE is quite diverse and is one of the most common plastics in today’s world. It is extremely versatile and can be used in distinct applications, allowing manufacturers to build different products based on this compound.
There are tons of TPE classes suitable for diverse applications. Manufacturers can choose to specialize in all of them or determine the ones for their products based on the capacity of their factory.
What is Ultraviolet resistance (UV resistance)?
UV-resistance is a characteristic that defines how much exposure to ultraviolet light a certain compound can endure. It is typically associated with polymers, and TPEs happen to be a specific type of polymer.
Polymers with low UV resistance are more prone to unintended failure as it is easier for them to deteriorate. Some polymers are more resistant to ultraviolet light than others. One of the best examples of a low UV-resistance polymer is polypropylene. Thus, if it is exposed to UV light for a prolonged period, it is very likely to deteriorate more quickly than other polymers.
Conversely, a polymer that is very resistant to ultraviolet light is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This polymer is manufactured to be as UV resistant as possible, making it an excellent choice for products meant for outdoor applications.
It is possible to increase the UV resistance of certain polymers. The process implies adding certain compounds during the manufacturing process of the polymer. However, if the product is already manufactured, it is possible to increase its UV resistance by applying a coating, for instance.
Thus, UV resistance is a trait associated with polymers and not a product. TPE is UV resistant to some degree, allowing it to survive in certain applications.
Thermoplastic elastomers and UV resistance go hand in hand. The former is a raw material used to produce everyday items, while the other is a trait that many of these items possess.
TPEs can be resistant to ultraviolet light to a certain degree. It depends on the manufacturing process or the coating utilized to keep them protected against them. Therefore, the difference between both concepts is that, while one is moldable material, the other is only a characteristic.
Tons of products are UV-resistant in the modern day, but not all plastic-based products are made from TPEs.