When deciding whether to use thermoset elastomers(rubber) in product design, manufacturers try to figure out what distinguishes rubber from plastic in the context of precision, molded parts. Product designers think a part design using thermoset elastomers are interchangeable with plastic; however, the chemical properties and molding characteristics of the two are very different. With applications requiring smaller parts and more difficult configurations(such as any pet toy, kitchen gadgets, or other consumers goods) new product designers must address all challenges that could arise in the development process.

At TechTank, our injection molding process provides reliable, high-quality, and cost-effective products. With our inexpensive prototyping and use of alternative materials, we have the chance to decrease any harmful toxins released into the atmosphere, TechTank can confidently compete with injection molding costs overseas across all industries.

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Liquid Silicone Rubber(LSR) vs. Thermoplastic Elastomers(TPE)–Choosing the Right Material

Thermoplastic elastomers(TPE) and liquid silicone rubber(LSR) have similar characteristics and chemical properties. Both are ideal for many types of injection molding projects; however, there are some considerable differences manufacturers need to be aware of when deciding which material to use for specific end products. While TPE and LSR are useful alternatives to synthetic or natural rubber and may sound relatable, they are in fact not interchangeable. TPE material is a thermoplastic while LSR material is a thermoset. Each material provides different properties, behave inversely during the molding process, and contrast in their reaction to heat. For example, LSR hardens while TPE melts. Both TPE and LSR have similar physical characteristics at room temperature, but there are specific advantages and disadvantages of using TPE over LSR, and it’s vital to determine which is right for your application.

When comparing TPE vs. silicone(LSR), there are many benefits to using thermoplastic elastomers to construct pet toys, kitchen gadgets, and additional consumer good products. For instance, they use less energy during production. Thermoplastic elastomers are a blend of polymers that melt and form into plastic when heated. Manufacturers shape and fabricate TPE when temperatures reach its melting point then cool the plastic to harden the mold, without changing the chemistry from form-to-form. Having no chemical bond within thermoplastic elastomers, TPE is then pressure-molded into various components that strengthen and retain their shape during the curing process.

Like LSR, TPE has similar elasticity, but the elastomeric behavior differs because of cross-linking properties–where the polymer chains are chemically joined together in places by covalent bonds(which LSR has). The result of avoiding the cross-link, it achieves faster cycle times and makes for a cost-saving process. TPE material has outstanding chemical resistance properties, just not at high or low temperatures. TPE can also be formulated to be non-tacky, which helps repel dirt and other contaminants. Additional advantages include:

  • Abrasion resistance
  • High elasticity
  • High fatigue resistance
  • High impact strength
  • Low density
  • Resilient to chemicals and weathering
  • Strong and flexible at room temperature
  • Suitable for high-volume injection molding
  • Resistance to low and high temperatures( -30–140 degrees C)

When Using TPE, hundreds of remolding opportunities appear because there is no chemical change within the material. The only drawbacks of using TPE is how it melts when exposed to high temperatures—which could be considered a positive in some cases—and how it deforms under sustained pressure. LSR can deal with extreme range of temperatures(up to 400 degrees C) and will remain stable. LSR has a high chemical resistance to solvents, oils, and other chemicals, which is ideal for gaskets and O-rings that come into contact with various solvents in the automobile industry.

TPE For Plastic Injection Mold Manufacturing in the Pet Toy Industry

Selecting toys for dogs that are durable, stylish, and sustainably made is a hard task. Manufacturing dog toys can be difficult when considering how to improve the quality and durability of a product. High-quality TPE material is flexible enough for a wide array of uses, including, manufacturing strong, safe, rubbery plastic dog toys that are squishy, fun to play with, and easy to clean. Chew toys especially need to withstand constant gnawing and attempts of destruction. TPE makes for a lightweight, UV light, and chemical resistant toy. They’re safe for the animal to use and are easily molded to offer a variety of textures and colors necessary to keep the animal’s interest. At TechTank, we ensure our customers that we only produce non-toxic, high-quality, and long-lasting toys from superior TPE material.

Using TPE in the Plastic Injection Molding Process for Consumer Goods

Several objects in today’s homes contain thermoplastic elastomers. From handles on spoons and spatulas that are used to flip, stir, and whisk food to the toothbrushes, hair combs, and scissors used for beauty and hygiene care–thermoplastics are everywhere. Thermoplastics are an ideal solution for household products because they are heat and cold resistant. Thermoplastics are some of the most widely used soft plastic materials used in the market. Found in thousands upon thousands of products, manufacturers around the world have recognized this material for its use in consumer applications.

TechTank’s TPE Plastic Injection Mold Manufacturing Capabilities

TechTank’s plastic injection molding services are suited for a vast array of thermoplastics including engineered resins, elastomers, and polyolefins as well as custom color matching. Injection molding is a versatile process, and TechTank has the abilities to handle a wide range of materials such a thermoplastic Elastomers(TPE), allowing us to manufacture high-quality products more efficiently, while also keeping them low-priced for our customers. At TechTank, we provide our customers with numerous value-added options that come after the injection molding process. These services include:

  • Assembly
  • Packaging
  • Fulfillment

At TechTank, our accommodating business model allows instant access to all of our capabilities to provide fast turnaround time for your short-medium run. Find out more about how TechTank is a leader in providing quick, high quality manufactured products for automotive, manufacturing, and commercial applications.

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