Thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU is a category of plastic with outstanding versatility that designed to meet manufacturing challenges of the modern world because it improves the production and performance of any type of product from shoes to filters and cables. Practically, high temperature polymers are useful for a large number of global industries, from automotive and aviation, construction and agriculture to healthcare. After many years of development, companies managed to create various TPUs with the goal to fulfill application requirements including adhesive, injection molding and compounding. When being exposed to heat, this polymer becomes soft. When cooled, returns to a hard structure. However, the great advantage is that thermoplastic polyurethane stands more than one processing without affecting its integrity. Other characteristics of this type of plastic include high elasticity and elongation, resistance to abrasion and chemicals, tensile strength. For these reasons, TPU is very popular among different markets and applications.

Types of thermoplastic polyurethane

High temperature polyurethane can be divided into three classes, namely polycaprolactone, polyether and polyester. Polycaprolactone TPUs are perfect for pneumatic and hydraulic seals because they present resistance to hydrolysis Polyether TPUs present excellent resistance to hydrolysis, good abrasion and durability against microbial degradation, which makes them ideal for watery environments. The last category of TPU and probably the most familiar is polyester, which offers resistance against abrasion and protection against chemicals and oils, thanks to its intensified properties. It is mostly used in polymer blends or mixtures.

Common traits of TPUs

Regardless of the company that produces them, TPUs must have some common traits in order to differentiate them from other materials. These characteristics refer to the performance of thermoplastic polyurethane and include flexibility, excellent impact strength, resilience to various solvents and grease, high elasticity and abrasion resistance, recyclability. Moreover, they must be pleasant to the touch and easy to color. Manufacturers have the ability to change their physical attributes in order to meet specific requirements in terms of application. Practically, they need to adjust the ration of materials used to produce thermoplastic polyurethane, use additives like mold release agents and change the reaction conditions.

Measurements used for TPUs

Companies use several assessments to measure the longevity and performance of TPUs. The standard measurements include abrasion, shore hardness, tensile and tear strength and shrinkage. Shore hardness has the goal to measure the resistance to penetration or indentation by applying a defined force on the thermoplastic polyurethane. This allows a clear categorization: rigid or flexible. The tensile strength has the purpose to determine the level of endurance before deformation occurs and the tear strength show the ability of resisting distortion or break. Manufacturers encounter difficulties when establishing the shrinkage degree accurately because various parameters influence this action.

Chemical properties are of great importance because they control the thermoplastic polyurethane behavior in different environments. Thus, manufacturers must think about high temperatures and outdoor elements that might negatively affect the TPU and carefully analyze its concentration and formulation. Shortly, the finished product must present high chemical resistance when encountering specific substances, including saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons, especially in medical and industrial environments. Companies have high standards in relation to thermoplastic polyurethane.

Read More