I. Silicone is a type of thermoset elastomer.
II. TPE is a type of thermoplastic elastomer.
1. TPE is a general term of a variety of elastomeric materials with the characteristics of elastic rubber and melt-flowable elastomer at high temperature.
Silicone rubber is a special kind of rubber. It has good mechanical strength, abrasion resistance and high temperature resistance after being crosslinked. It belongs to a kind of thermoset rubber, will not melt after being vulcanized and heated, will burn when the temperature is excessively high, and will yield water and silica after complete combustion.
2. Different structural analysis: Silicone is an elastomer composed of a chain of silicon-oxygen links, and with a general side chain of CH3. TPE is a thermoplastic elastomer composed of styrene, olefins and polyurethanes. The main difference is that silicon has a molecular structure of SI02, and TPE has a molecular structure of CC.
3. From processing performance perspective: Silicone needs to be molded through vulcanization, but TPE can be molded without vulcanization. Silicone is more difficult to be processed and molded, while the production and processing of TPE is simpler.
4. Silicone has an advantage over TPE in high temperature. The temperature resistance range of silicone is 200 ~ 300 ºC, while that of TPE is theoretically 130ºC ~ 150 ºC, and above that range, TPE will age and crack.
5. Prices of silicone rubber are higher than TPE. TPE has an advantage of being cheaper. Except for special TPE materials, silicon has such merits as halogen-free, flame retardant, food-grade proper, etc.
6. From cost perspective, silicone wastes cannot be recycled, whereas TPE wastes, nozzle residues and edge materials can be fully recycled and reused. Thus, TPE is more cost effective.