TPV and EPDM rubber compared

Vulcanized thermoplastics or EPDM rubber, which is best? They both have an extensive range of applications, from complex window systems for the automotive industry, passing by medical devices and household appliances. Of course, we could try and sell you TPV right away, as it is our favourite material used to replace curtain wall EPDM gaskets in elaborate window systems, but let’s try to understand its properties together first.

TPE: Thermoplastic elastomer family

Before we dive into TPV and its specificities, let’s first understand what type of material we are referring to. Thermoplastic vulcanizates come from the TPE family, the thermoplastic elastomer material. TPE is commonly used because it offers excellent resistance when compared to regular rubber. But, rubber? Is TPE made of rubber or plastic? This is where it all gets interesting: thermoplastic elastomers come from rubber and share plastic properties. The combination of the two makes it so the material can stretch to moderate elongations and return to the way it was. Doing so offers a longer life and more control over the desired profile.

What is TPV (Thermoplastic vulcanizates) material?

Now that we know more about the TPE family, let’s find out what’s so special about TPV. If you have read this far, you will find this very interesting: Thermoplastic vulcanizates are made from both plastic (more precisely: polypropylene) AND EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber. This specific union gives the material unique properties, which makes it possible to use for high-performance products. To know more about TPV and its advantages, possible applications and uses, read about it here. Since we want to compare EPDM and TPV, let’s see which characteristics are met in both materials…

What are TPV and EPDM rubber shared properties?

As described earlier, TPE gains from having both plastic and rubber properties. In the same way, TPV gains from EPDM rubber. We mainly talk about more extended durability and flexibility, which would not be met without the vulcanized rubber. A vulcanized rubber is synthesized from natural rubber, which we get from the rubber tree, and sulfur (or other chemicals) used for vulcanization. The process produces a thermoset rubber.

TPV and TPE versus silicone rubber

A question often asked in the industry: TPE or Silicone rubber? We will have to settle with: both materials have their strong sides. Thermoplastic elastomers, especially TPV, are well suited to endure more mechanical pressure and return to their original shape. Meanwhile, silicone rubber can take more heat! It has very specific applications as TPEs can temporarily reach above 90 degrees Celsius while silicone can be kept at 200 degrees Celsius without affecting sealing function. Of course, the production method varies, and so does the cost. Silicone is mixed at a cooled temperature, then heated to solidify and requires specific equipment, while TPE is heated to melt and cooled to solidify. The process takes less time, and the machines can be used for the various tonnage and hard plastic materials. You now understand the difference and why TPV is a material with a lower production cost.

In conclusion

In short, although EPDM has its merits, TPV clearly stands out in many areas. TPV, a member of the TPE family, offers an excellent combination of durability and elasticity, making it superior for applications requiring high strength and long service life. Its ability to merge the qualities of plastic and rubber makes it an ideal choice for complex systems, such as window seals. What’s more, its ease of production and processing make it an economically advantageous material, without compromising performance. TPV is therefore proving to be an excellent substitute for EPDM, offering significant advantages in terms of performance, cost and versatility of application.

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