How to Distinguish TPE and TPU-4 Easy methods

The performance of TPE and TPU are quite similar and cannot be distinguished by the naked eye, but they can be distinguished by some simple methods.

Fast Index

Pinch with your hand or bite by teeth

Pinch it with your hands (if the hardness is too high, then use your teeth, both TPU and TPE are non-toxic, so do not need to worry), mainly to see the elastic recovery ability. The elastic recovery of TPE is relatively slow, and the elastic recovery of TPU is relatively fast, because the material structure of TPU is a polymer homogeneous structure, which belongs to polymer resins. TPE is an alloy material with multi-phase structure aggregated by multi-component blending. High hardness TPE processing is prone to product deformation, while in all hardness ranges, TPU exhibits excellent elasticity, and the product is not easily deformed.



If it is difficult to operate with your hands, you can use a clip for 24 hours, and it will be easier to see the difficulty of recovery.

Natural color TPU
Natural color TPU

Feel with hand

As far as hand feel is concerned, TPE feels more delicate, while TPU feels rough. Their hardness can roughly reflect the difference. TPE belongs to medium and low hardness, which is more excellent in the comfort of touch, and TPU belongs to medium and high hardness, and more excellent in elasticity and strength.

Burn it with fire: see the flame reaction and smell the odor

The combustion method is the most accurate method among the four methods

When TPE burns, the flame is yellow and the bottom is blue, there are slight bubbles at the bottom of the flame, the smell is special aroma, with petroleum smell (petroleum smell is the burning smell of PP component, TPE/TPR with low hardness, no PP, or PS, The root of the flame is yellow; the higher hardness of TPE containing PP, the color of the root of the flame is blue), and the burning has a special aroma. TPE burns less smoke than TPR; burns away from fire. No residue or some white powder after burning.

TPE Burning Flame Color

When the TPU is burning, the flame is basically yellow, the bottom of the flame foams strongly, there is a slight explosion sound, and there is a certain irritating odor.TPU is white after being burned with fire, showing a gelatinous substance

Non Flame Retardant TPU Buring
Flame Retardant TPU CAN NOT Burn

visual inspect

Although most products of TPE and TPU are black, there are also transparent products. For transparent products, TPU is more transparent than TPE, and it is not as easy to stick as transparent TPE.

The above are 4 simple methods to identify TPE and TPU, for reference only. As the so-called practice brings true knowledge, only by practicing a lot can we have a deeper understanding of the subtle differences. Learning to distinguish them will help us choose better and more suitable materials for our products.

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