How to improve the durability of TPU

February 21, 2024


TPU is an abbreviation for Thermoplastic Urethane. It is a polymer material made by reacting and polymerizing diisocyanate molecules, such as diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) or toluene diisocyanate (TDI), macromolecular polyols and low molecular weight polyols (chain extenders). This article aims to demonstrate methods for improving the durability of TPU.

TPU has excellent high tension, high tensile strength, strong and aging resistant properties and has developed into a mature material. Currently, TPU is very interesting material to use in automotive, medical, electronic and electrical appliances, sports fields and as smartphone cases.

Differences between Polyester and Polyether TPU

The soft part of TPU can be a variety of polyalcohols, which can be broadly divided into two types: polyether and polyester. The polyether type (ether) has high strength, hydrolysis resistance and high resilience, good low temperature performance. Polyester (Ester) has better tensile and flexural properties, abrasion resistance, solvent resistance and resistance to higher temperatures.

Main applications

Shoe elastomer – TPU is an interesting material and for shoe soles and accessories. Such as tags, decorative parts, the outer layer of the sole, the upper of shoes, etc. It can replace rubber, thermoplastic polyolefin and other materials.

Tube – TPU pipes, for example in air and oil hoses for aircraft, tanks, automobiles, motorcycles and other mechanical equipment. Tubes of TPU have the advantages of good flexibility, dimensional stability and good transparency. Good resistance to chemicals and hydrolysis, good pressure resistance.

Automobile – TPU for outer body parts, main body side parts, bumpers, bushings, gaskets, seals, instrument covers and oil pipeline bushings.

Wire and cable sheathing – TPU has excellent low-temperature flexibility, marble resistance, moisture resistance. It can meet the demands of harsh environment applications.

Film and sheet – TPU films and sheets have excellent low temperature flexibility. Good abrasion resistance, good transparency, easy to color and other advantages. The main areas of application are rescue boats, life jackets, raincoats, conveyor belts and so on.

Adhesive TPU adhesive has chemical and hydrolysis resistance, good low-temperature flexibility, high elongation, and excellent bending fatigue performance is excellent.

Smartphone case – TPU is an excellent material for smartphones and tablets accessories. In terms of flexibility it is between hard plastic (or polycarbonate) and silicone. This means that it combines the good properties of both hard plastic and silicone. Resulting in flexible, but very strong cases.

How to obtain high quality durable TPU?

Products made of TPU, especially aromatic TPU, are affected by ultraviolet light, heat, oxygen and moisture. Especially in the natural environment for long-term use or storage, the appearance, physical and mechanical properties will be greatly reduced. The aging mechanism of TPU mainly involves the oxidation reaction of the aromatic diisocyanate under ultraviolet irradiation, forming the chromogenic diquinonimide group. This further the automatic oxidation degradation of aryl-containing TPU, causing chemical cross-linking and yellowing or even browning of the product.

Our solutions

UV absorbers
Omnistab UV 1 is a Formamidine-type UV absorber. It absorbs the UV band for which polyurethane are sensitive. Another UV absorber is our UV 571. This is a benzotriazole UV absorber for polyurethane to prevent resins from UV-aging. It’s especially suitable for TPU and PU foam.
Omnistab AN 245 is a high-performance hindered phenolic antioxidant TPU. Excellent for spandex, polyurethane adhesives and sealants. HN 130 is exeptional in the production process of PU profiles, shoe materials and polyurethane fibers for preventing yellowing during processing.

Here are some FAQs

What is TPU?

TPU stands for Thermoplastic Polyurethane, a polymer material made from diisocyanate molecules and macromolecular polyols. It is known for its high tension, tensile strength, and aging resistance.

What are the differences between polyester and polyether TPU?

Polyether TPU has high strength, hydrolysis resistance, and resilience, making it suitable for applications requiring low-temperature performance. Polyester TPU, on the other hand, has better tensile and flexural properties, abrasion resistance, solvent resistance, and resistance to higher temperatures.

What are the main applications of TPU?

PU is interesting in various industries, including automotive, medical, electronics, sports, and smartphone cases. For example, shoe soles and accessories, tubes, automobile parts, wire and cable sheathing, films and sheets, adhesives, and more.

How can the durability of TPU be improved?

Products made of TPU, especially aromatic TPU, are affected by ultraviolet light, heat, oxygen, and moisture. To improve durability, UV absorbers like Omnistab UV 1 and UV 571 can be used to prevent UV-aging. Antioxidants like Omnistab AN 245 and HN 130 can also be used to prevent yellowing during processing

What are the advantages of using TPU in smartphone cases?

TPU is an excellent material for smartphone and tablet accessories because it offers a balance between flexibility and strength. It is more flexible than hard plastic or polycarbonate and more durable than silicone, resulting in strong yet flexible cases.

How do UV absorbers and antioxidants improve the durability of TPU?

UV absorbers like Omnistab UV 1 and UV 571 absorb the UV band for which polyurethanes are sensitive, preventing UV-aging. Antioxidants like Omnistab AN 245 and HN 130 prevent yellowing during processing by inhibiting oxidation reactions.

Why is TPU a suitable material for shoe soles and accessories?

TPU is an interesting material for shoe soles and accessories because it offers a combination of high strength, hydrolysis resistance, resilience, and low-temperature performance. It can replace rubber, thermoplastic polyolefin, and other materials in shoe applications

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