TPE and silicone are two such materials that can make or break a potential fit within you application. Both materials share many characteristics, making them both viable options for a variety of parts. However, there are critical differences between TPE and silicone that will impact just how well each material will perform. Let us examine the distinctions between silicone and TPE to help you choose the right material for your bespoke parts and find the greatest fit for your company’s requirements.

What Is Thermoplastic Elastomer {TPE} Made Of?

A thermoplastic elastomer is a composite material made of rubber and plastic. Copolymers are physical mixtures of polymers that include both thermoplastic and elastomeric qualities.

What Material Is Silicone Made Of?

Is silicone rubber or plastic? Although silicone has a gray area in science, it is usually considered rubber. It is an artificial elastomer that combines rubber and plastic qualities. Although silicone can be used to create liquids, hard solids, and rubber-like goods, it is more commonly referred to as rubber because that name is also known as elastomer. Even though silicone and silicon are distinct materials, they are frequently mistaken. While silicone is a polymer, a giant molecule with repeating structures, silicon is an element. 

What Is the Product Performance of TPE and Silicone?

Both silicone and TPE are used to create high-quality goods. Silicone products have demonstrated excellent qualities, including thermal conductivity, fire resistance, superior chemical stability, flame retardancy, and exceptional resistance to heat and cold. Products made of thermoplastic polymers (TPE) are incredibly adaptable, inherently chemical resistant, economical, and possess exceptional thermal and material stability.

What Is Thermoplastic Elastomer’s (TPE’s) Melting Point?

Thermoplastic elastomer has a melting point of 260-320 degrees C. The temperature resistance range of TPE is theoretically 130 to 150 degrees C, and above that range, TPE will age and crack.

What Is Silicone’s Melting Point?

Silicone does not have a melting point. It remains solid until combustion occurs. At high temperatures (200-450 degrees C), silicone rubber will slowly lose its mechanical properties over time, becoming brittle. The temperature resistance range of silicone is considered to be 200 to 300 degrees C.

What Is the Process of TPE and Silicone Injection Molding?

The process of creating a molding tool for silicone injection molding starts with CNC machining. For the silicone molding process to hold up, this tool needs to be able to tolerate high temperatures. After that, the tool might be polished to provide a variety of finish possibilities.

After the tool is finished, it is put into an injection molding press made especially for silicone that has a precise shot size regulation gearbox. Among the materials utilized are standard silicones and specific grades to suit certain part applications. Once the pieces are ready, they are removed from the mold and used as prototype or production parts.

TPE pellets are first fed into the machine via a hopper and then into a heated barrel to start the TPE injection molding process. The substance becomes a liquid resin when heated in the barrel and is subsequently injected under high pressure into a closed mold. The completed part can be taken out of the mold once the molten polymer has cooled.

The advanced properties of TPE compounds deliver short cycle times that allow parts to be produced rapidly.

What are the Differences Between TPE and Silicone?

TPE stands for thermoplastic elastomer and comprises styrene, olefins, and polyurethanes. Due to their proven safety, low toxicity, and flexibility, TPEs are the perfect choice for medical-grade devices and food compliance industries.

Silicone, on the other hand, is a synthetic rubber that is created by extracting silicon, combining it with hydrocarbons, and then blending it. Due to its higher melting point, silicone is a great material to use in the production of HVAC, rail, and aerospace parts.

When weighing TPE vs silicone rubber for high-performance parts, it’s essential to consider all factors before deciding. Key factors include:

Material resistances

When it comes to raw material resistance, both silicone and TPE offer some key benefits. Both silicone and TPE materials enjoy excellent resistance to aging and weather. However, TPE does outperform silicone when it comes to abrasion, tearing, and solvent resistance. Meanwhile, silicone does offer the ability to insulate electricity and repel water.

Temperature requirements

The temperature requirements of the manufacturing process and end product use are among the most important elements that determine which material to choose: silicone or TPE. The superior performance of silicone in high temperatures over TPE is evident.

For instance, the temperature for TPE ranges from lows of -30 degrees Fahrenheit to highs of 250 degrees. Outside of this range, TPE will begin to deteriorate and crack. Silicone temperature ranges are much broader, with low-temperature use ranging between -60 to -150 degrees and high-temperature use reaching up to 480 degrees.

Physical durability and material feel

One of the advantages of TPE is its soft touch and material feel. This makes it an ideal material for use as a soft-touch grip on the outside of other products or for sealing rings and bottle cap liners.

Another difference between the two compounds is that silicone has a better compression set than TPE. As such, silicone is more likely to return to its original thickness after being compressed.


Silicone materials are more expensive to create than TPE because of their intricate manufacturing process. TPE is more economical thanks to this procedure if both materials satisfy all of your performance requirements. For instance, TPE is a more cost-effective option if it will not adversely affect the entire product life cycle. However, depending on the climate, there are times when a more specialist material is required.


Another critical aspect to consider is material sustainability. This quality may be important to you if it’s part of your company ethos in a bid to reduce waste or simply to save money. Between the two, TPE is the more sustainable material as it can be easily recycled.

How Do I Choose the Right TPE Materials?

When selecting TPE materials, it is important to take into account what has to be replaced, what material is already in use, where upgrades are required, and whether a budget is in place. Next, be careful to include any needs related to functionality or performance.

Next, you should think about the injection, extrusion, or blow molding methods that will be used to make and assemble the part. The processing method of the material informs the creation of TPE formulations. Let us say the TPE is going to be co-extruded or over-molded onto another material. In that case, the over-molding or co-extrusion process must be considered, as a TPE that bonds well to one material won’t necessarily adhere to another.

Cost and environmental factors, such as whether the TPE product will be used indoors or outside and any necessary temperature requirements, should also be taken into account.

How Do I Choose the Right Silicone Material?

To choose the right silicone, you should consider the required properties for the product’s intended purpose. The reality is there is no one single type of silicone that should be used for everything. Instead, many different types have different flexibility, durability, and resistance.

Consider the desired chemical, mechanical, and physical properties of the material when making a selection.

Is Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) Safe to Use?

Yes, it is safe to use thermoplastic elastomers. TPE is less likely to cause allergic reactions than latex. However, some people are concerned about the safety of TPE because it contains chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are added to TPE to make it more flexible, but they can also harm human health.

Studies have linked phthalates to hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and cancer. However, it is essential to note that the levels of phthalates in TPE products are generally low and pose minimal risk to human health. As a result, TPE is legal to use and generally considered safe.

Is Silicone Safe to Use?

Yes, silicone is safe to use. Silicone is used for medical, electrical, and other applications. Because silicone is chemically stable, experts say it’s safe and likely not toxic. Additionally, according to the FDA, food-grade silicone cookware does not cause harmful chemical contamination of foods.

Recommendations For Silicone Rubber Manufacturing

Silicone rubber and TPE are both excellent polymer materials suitable for various product applications. To determine which material is better for your needs, we would recommend you to consider from the perspective of specific application and requirements of the product.

If your product requires high temperature resistance, wear resistance, and chemical resistance, silicone rubber is a better choice. This is often seen in applications such as medical devices and automotive components.

On the other hand, if your product emphasizes high elasticity, flexibility, and good processing capabilities, TPE is a better option. This is commonly seen in household products and sporting goods, etc.

Regardless of whether you choose TPE or silicone rubber, it’s crucial to select a reliable manufacturing partner to ensure the material and production quality.

We not only have years of experience in silicone rubber production, but also qualified by international certificates such as RoHS, REACH, SGS, and FDA, offering four key advantages:

Rich Experience and Technology: Forestsilicone Factory has years of experience in silicone rubber manufacturing and possesses rich production technology and management experience. Additionally, Forestsilicone Factory has achieved a series of accomplishments in the research and application of silicone rubber materials, enabling us to provide customers with more professional technical support.

Advanced Production Equipment and Technique: Forestsilicone Factory possesses multiple advanced silicone rubber injection molding production lines and professional production technique which leads us to meet various production requirements from customers as well as ensuring product quality and delivery schedule.

Strict Quality Control System: Forestsilicone Factory implements strict quality control measures throughout the silicone rubber manufacturing process. From raw material inspection and production processes to finished product release, we conduct rigorous testing in accordance with international standards to ensure that our products meet customer requirements and standards.

Comprehensive After-Sales Service System: Forestsilicone Factory provides a complete after-sales service system, allowing us to promptly adjust product production and service in response to customer needs. We strive to ensure customer satisfaction and maintain long-term cooperative relationships.

Forestsilicone Factory has rich experience and technology in the field of silicone rubber manufacturing. We possess advanced production equipment and technique, a strict quality control system, and a comprehensive after-sales service system. We are committed to providing high-quality, efficient, and customized product manufacturing services to our customers. If you have any TPE or silicone rubber production needs, please click here to contact us.

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