Comparative Properties of TPE Materials for Automotive Interiors 2003-01-1122
With the recent interest in the possibilities of utilizing TPE materials as alternatives to flexible PVC (fPVC) in interior automotive applications, we have conducted a study of several soft touch polymer compounds in order to compare and contrast their characteristics with those of fPVC grades.
Our experience as a major supplier of fPVC, TPEs, films, powder slush, color, and masterbatch products has shown the characterization comparing TPEs to fPVC is uniquely challenging.
In many cases, design and materials engineers have been searching for products that have similar tactile and physical properties to fPVC. Often these characteristics are subjective and difficult to translate in an analytical manner. In an effort to develop an objective way to characterize various TPE compounds (including fPVC), we have tested an array of materials using a variety of tests with the objective of correlating these results to aesthetic aspects such as softness, lubricity and texture.
This paper will discuss the results of that study, and how these results can be used to help designers and engineers select the best products for their application. In addition, materials such as “Low Volatile” Vinyl and soft TPO formulations will be discussed and compared with current materials using the same techniques. Finally, potential innovative uses for these products will be highlighted.