Basics 101: Thermoplastics
A thermoplastic is a polymer which will become pliable above a specific temperature then return to a solid form after cooling. This family of polymers includes well established materials such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) and PVC.
Most Common Thermoplastics and Their Uses:
Polyethylene (PE): Also known as PE with variants LDPE, and HDPE, polyethylene has become the most widely used thermoplastic, due to its large range of properties, processes, and commercial accessibility. From grocery bags to knee replacements, PE can handle many high-performance applications at a relatively low cost.
Polypropylene (PP): Polypropylene is a thermoplastic that, while not as clear or cheap as polycarbonate, is safe for reusable containers and laboratory tools. It has particular resistance to fatigue which makes it ideal for living hinge applications.
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE): Thermoplastic elastomers are a viable injection molded substituted for natural rubbers. They are moldable, bondable and formable, ideal for single-use assemblies, overmolds, and tubing with bag manifolds. C-Flex® is the original patented thermoplastic elastomer tubing specifically designed to meet the critical demands of life sciences applications in fluid processing.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): Another very well-known material, PVC is tough and resistant to tearing and can be both rigid and flexible. For the medical industry, flexible PVC tubing, such as our Tygon® ND series, is used in IV transfer tubing and bags, pumps, and diagnostic equipment.
This family of polymers is so extensive and versatile that it is difficult to know where to even begin. This very quick overview gives just a basic background to what can be a daunting task but count on us to assist you with more thorough familiarity if thermoplastics are your materials of choice.