Constitutive Applications of Thermoplastic Elastomers

If you're shopping for a smartphone case, your material choices are usually silicone, polycarbonate, hard plastic, and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). If you're wondering what a TPU is, we'll break it down (visually).

What is a thermoplastic?
As you probably know, plastic is a synthetic material (usually) made from synthetic polymers. A polymer is a substance composed of monomers. Monomer molecules form long chains with their neighbors, forming huge macromolecules.

Plasticity is the property that gives plastic its name. Plastic just means that solid material can be permanently deformed. Plastics can be reshaped by molding, squeezing or applying pressure.

Thermoplastics get their name from their response to heat. Thermoplastics become plastic at certain temperatures, that is, when they are shaped as desired. As they cool down, their new shape becomes permanent until they are heated again.

The temperature required to make a thermoplastic flexible is much higher than what your phone can withstand. Therefore, thermoplastic products hardly deform during normal use.

Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printers are the most common 3D printers on the market today and use thermoplastics. Plastic filaments are fed through an extruder, and the printer layers its product, which cools and solidifies rapidly.

What about polyurethane?
Polyurethane (PU) refers to a class of organic polymers linked by polyurethane bonds. "Organic" in this context refers to organic chemistry centered on carbon compounds. Carbon is the basis of life as we know it, hence the name.

One of the things that makes polyurethane special is that it's not a specific compound. Polyurethanes can be made from many different monomers. That's why it's a class of polymers.

Post time: Jul-01-2022