GuangDong Advanced Thermoplastic Polymer Technology Co., Ltd.
GuangDong Advanced Thermoplastic Polymer Technology Co., Ltd.
Check out the latest ATP Polymer news and videos

Understanding Thermoplastic Elastomers: TPE and TPU

In today's material science landscape, understanding the properties and applications of various polymers is essential for numerous industries. Among these, Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) have garnered significant attention due to their unique characteristics and versatility. In this blog, we will explore what TPE is, what it's made of, and compare it with another similar material, TPU.

What is TPE?

Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually a plastic and a rubber) that consist of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. Essentially, TPEs combine the processing advantages of plastics with the flexibility and durability of rubbers.

The unique feature of TPEs is their ability to be molded, extruded, and reused like plastics while retaining the elastic properties of rubber. This makes them highly desirable in a variety of applications, from automotive parts and medical devices to consumer goods and sports equipment.

What is TPE Material Made Of?

TPE materials are composed of a mixture of polymers, usually a combination of plastic and rubber. This mixture can vary, but typically includes:

  • Styrenic block copolymers (SBCs): These are often used in consumer goods and packaging due to their flexibility and ease of processing.

  • Thermoplastic polyolefins (TPOs): Commonly used in automotive applications for their toughness and resistance to chemicals.

  • Thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs): These are highly durable and are used in applications requiring heat and oil resistance.

  • Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs): Known for their excellent abrasion resistance and elasticity, making them ideal for footwear and technical parts.

The process of creating TPE involves blending these polymers to achieve the desired balance of mechanical properties, temperature resistance, and elasticity. The result is a material that can be easily shaped into a variety of forms while maintaining a rubber-like flexibility.


While TPE and TPU share some similarities, they are distinct materials with unique properties and applications. Here’s a detailed comparison:

Composition and Structure

  • TPE: As mentioned, TPE is a blend of rubber and plastic, providing a wide range of hardness and elasticity. The exact composition can be tailored to meet specific needs, making TPE a versatile choice for various applications.

  • TPU: TPU is a specific type of TPE that is made from thermoplastic polyurethane. It is characterized by its excellent abrasion resistance, high elasticity, and superior strength.


  • Flexibility: Both TPE and TPU are flexible, but TPU tends to offer greater elasticity and can return to its original shape better after deformation.

  • Durability: TPU is generally more durable and resistant to abrasion, making it suitable for more demanding applications such as industrial hoses, conveyor belts, and protective cases.

  • Chemical Resistance: TPU typically has better resistance to oils, greases, and solvents compared to other TPEs, enhancing its usability in harsh environments.

  • Processing: TPE can be processed using conventional plastic manufacturing techniques such as injection molding and extrusion. TPU can also be processed similarly but may require more precise control due to its specific properties.


  • TPE: Widely used in automotive parts (e.g., gaskets, seals), consumer goods (e.g., toothbrushes, razors), and medical devices (e.g., tubing, grips).

  • TPU: Preferred for applications needing superior durability and flexibility, including footwear, phone cases, sports equipment, and industrial components.

Feature/PropertyTPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers)TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
CompositionBlend of rubber and plasticThermoplastic polyurethane
ElasticityHigh, but generally less than TPUExcellent, high elasticity and return to original shape
DurabilityGood, suitable for a variety of applicationsExcellent, superior abrasion resistance and toughness
Chemical ResistanceModerate, varies with compositionHigh, excellent resistance to oils, greases, and solvents
FlexibilityFlexible, varying levels based on blendVery flexible, superior to many other TPEs
ProcessingEasy to process using conventional plastic techniquesCan be processed similarly, but requires precise control
Hardness RangeWide range, from soft and flexible to rigidBroad range, but typically more focused on flexibility
Temperature ResistanceModerate to high, depending on specific TPE blendGenerally high, performs well in a wide temperature range
ApplicationsAutomotive parts, consumer goods, medical devices, sports equipmentFootwear, phone cases, sports equipment, industrial components
CostGenerally lower than TPUTypically higher due to enhanced properties
Abrasion ResistanceGood, sufficient for most applicationsExcellent, ideal for high-wear applications


Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) are a versatile group of materials that bridge the gap between plastics and rubbers, offering the best of both worlds. While TPE itself is a broad category, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) stands out as a specific type with enhanced properties. Understanding the differences between TPE and TPU is crucial for selecting the right material for your specific application needs.

Whether you are in the automotive, medical, consumer goods, or industrial sector, TPE and TPU provide innovative solutions that enhance product performance and durability. As material science advances, the applications and capabilities of these remarkable polymers will continue to expand, driving innovation across various industries.

Understanding Thermoplastic Elastomers: TPE and TPU

ATP Polymer News Recommendation

25 May, 2024
Connectivity Beyond Boundaries: TPU in HDMI Cables for Long-Distance Transmission
The Challenge of Long-Distance HDMI TransmissionIn the realm of audiovisual connectivity, the ability to transmit high-definition content over long distances poses a unique set of challenges. HDMI cab...
25 May, 2024
The Unmistakable Role of XLPE Material in Vehicle Cables
In the world of automotive engineering, every component plays a crucial role in the overall efficiency, safety, and durability of the vehicle. While many parts grab the limelight, there's one mate...
23 May, 2024
Crystal Clear Connectivity: TPU in HDMI Cables for High-Definition Visuals
The Visual Revolution in HDMI TechnologyThe evolution of visual technology, particularly in the realm of High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables, has transformed the way we experience visua...
21 May, 2024
Music to Your Ears: TPU-Enhanced HDMI Cables for High-Quality Audio Transmission
The Evolution of Audio-Visual ConnectivityAs audio and visual technologies continue to advance, the demand for high-quality audio transmission has become a central focus for enthusiasts and profession...