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What is the difference between TPE & Silicone?
Source: | Author:cninjo | Publish time: 2018-05-15 | 771 Views | Share:
Silicones and TPEs are elastomeric materials that offer an alternative to natural or synthetic rubber. This article will aid product designers and engineers in material choice for elastomeric applications. The material properties of silicones and TPEs will be addressed. Processing methods with emphasis on injection molding will be covered. Typical products for each material family will be given, including justification of why silicone or TPE was chosen.
Silicones are thermoset materials that have a chemical structure based on chains of alternate silicone and oxygen atoms with organic groups attached to the silicone atoms
What is silicone?
Silicones come in many processable forms, including liquid silicone rubber (LIM or LSR), heat cured rubber (HCE or HCR) and room temperature vulcanized rubber (RTV). Liquid silicone rubber that is platinum cured has become the material of choice for most domestic molders, given its ease of processing. It comes in five gallon pails or 55 gallon drums and does not require any roll milling or compounding. Liquid silicone rubber is fed to molding machines using self-contained metering pumps, minimizing any opportunities for contamination or non-deliberate off ratio delivery. In some cases, heat cured rubber peroxide cured silicones are still used due to properties achievable with customized compounding. This is particularly the case in automotive and electrical applications.
Once a silicone material is molded, it forms a permanent shape and it cannot be broken down into a reusable form for molding again, hence a thermoset designation. This feature, as well as a relatively high material cost, makes it particularly important to get things right the first time for the processor. Cured silicone waste is commonly landfilled due to the lack of economically feasible uses.
What is TPE?
TPE stands for thermoplastic elastomer, which is also called thermoplastic rubber. TPEs are a class of copolymers that are a mix of polymers; most commonly a plastic and a rubber. These copolymers allow for the TPE to have a blend of desirable physical and appearance properties. Common types of TPEs are TPO, TPV, SBC, TPU, COPE and COPA (ref. 1).
In terms of performance, TPEs have three characteristics:
• ability to be stretched to moderate elongations and, when the stress is removed, to return to comparable shape;
• ability to be processed when melted at an elevated temperature; and
• lack of significant creep. 

Therefore
the price of silicone is higher than TPE. Most of our products are using 100% medical body-safe silicone, but if you want the TPE ones, you can also let us know.