Thermoplastic Olefin Elastomers (TPO)
Properties and Applications
Thermoplastic polyolefins (TPOs) are low-cost, high-volume elastomers that combine the advantages of polyolefins with those of rubbers. They are binary or ternary blends of polyolefins and thermoplastic elastomers. The elastomeric component is typically an olefinic copolymer such as ethylene propylene rubber (EPR) or ethylene-propylene-diene (EPDM) and the thermoplastic matrix polymer is predominantly crystalline polypropylene (i-PP).1 Other polymers sometimes used in TPO blends include low-cost olefins such as LDPE, LLDPE and HDPE and copolymers of ethylene and other vinyl monomers like ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA), ethylene-ethylacrylate (EEA), and ethylene-methyl-acrylate (EMA).
TPOs are often a good alternative to more expensive rubbers when a low upper service temperature is acceptable and good fluid resistance is not required and when the level of stress is low, i.e. creep and set can be avoided. They are used for a broad range of applications including specialty food and pharmaceutical packaging; medical IV bags and tubing; flexible profiles, hoses and pipes; and wire and cable insulation. TPOs are also extensively used in the automotive industry. Important applications include exterior and interior elastic components such as soft instrument panel, armrests, and dashboard skins; floor mats; pillar moldings; rear and front bumper fascia; and side molding.
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