Why does BLS use TPE?
TPE is the name used to define a Thermoplastic Elastomer, also known as thermoplastic rubber.
What is it?
Thermoplastic elastomers are a class of polymeric materials that have the elastic behaviour of rubber and the processability of thermoplastics. Rubber has been of strategic importance since the beginning of the automotive industry, and thermoplastic elastomers can function like rubber. In fact, below the melting temperature, TPE has an elastic behaviour like a thermoset rubber.
"TPEs are generally low modulus flexible materials that can be repeatedly stretched to at least twice their original length at room temperature, with the ability to return to their approximate original length when stress is released. They also have the ability to be reworked when heated above the melt transition temperature." (Xpolymers, "TPE Elastomers", n.d., https://www.xpolymers.it/tpe.html)
What are the advantages of TPE?
TPE is a rubber-like material obtained by mixing hard thermoplastics such as polypropylene (PP), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polyamide (PA) - or Nylon - with soft, rubbery materials. There are numerous approaches for the preparation of TPE, of which we will see the main ones:
- block copolymers
- rubber/plastic blends
- dynamically vulcanised rubber/plastic alloys called thermoplastic vulcanisations
The advantages of using this material mainly relate to recyclability and optimisation of conventional processing, which can range from injection moulding to extrusion, from thermoforming to blow moulding.
In fact, thermoplastic elastomers are easier to process than thermoset (vulcanised) elastomers, also in terms of energy expenditure.
The classification of thermoplastic elastomers adheres to ISO 1043 using the abbreviation TPE with the addition of a letter indicating the chemical nature of that particular thermoplastic elastomer.
For which products does BLS use TPE?
BLS uses thermoplastic rubber for the face seal of many reusable products that require high standards of respiratory protection and resistance to extreme environmental conditions. These characteristics allow BLS products to guarantee the end-user maximum comfort in the contact of the gasket with the face also thanks to the adaptability of the material to different types of faces.
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