TPUs offer eco-friendly, light-weight options in an array of applications

Taiwan’s Great Eastern Resins Industrial Co., Ltd. (GRECO) see a bright future for thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPUs) in a variety of fields based on global megatrends. In the humble shoe sole, for example, GRECO has debuted products that could potentially replace rubber used in outsoles for footwear manufacturing. “The purpose for TPU replacing traditional raw materials is to on one hand expand eco-solutions, and the other reduce processing time while improve the actual performances of the end product,” Greco explained.

Other material replacement options include the introduction of the Isothane Calendar Series as a replacement for PVC in synthetic leather applications. The primary advantages of TPU are increased levels of abrasion resistance and flame retardation.

In another development, GRECO’s Isothane 7000 Series Aliphatic grade exhibits non-yellowing features, low temperature flexibility and excellent resilience properties. These new features could potentially see its deployment in protection films for automobiles.

TPUs exhibit scratch resistance in auto interior applications.

GRECO future development roadmap for TPU focuses on R&D of expanded TPU foams. The goal is to make expandable TPU pellets that would be foamed using a microcellular process in an injection molding machine. Foamed TPU exhibits a resilience of over 60% while maintaining flexibility even at low temperature. “This product will be extremely beneficial for light-weight solutions and applications in the energy industry,” GRECO indicated.

More pioneering projects are being tested by GRECO and their customers. In 2017 GRECO explored new markets for TPUs, one of which used corn-derived, bio-based TPU to manufacture bibs for a Swedish customer active in the Chinese market. The other project used long fiber reinforced TPU in wind turbine blades to prolong their service life. Long fiber reinforced TPU has high tensile strength to withstand wind resistance, while being much lighter than metal. Further, the wind turbine design can be optimized.

The final TPU development at GRECO is promoting engineering grade applications: Isothane 8000 TPU engineering grades, for example, appear to be suitable for extrusion and injection molding applications. “We are expecting increased adoption in electronics, automobiles, hand tools, home appliances, medical devices, and optical products,” GRECO remarked.

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