Silicone is a thermosetting elastomer, with the advantages of safety and non-toxic. TPE meaning a Thermoplastic Elastomer material. It can be recycled and processed by injection molding. TPU is called Thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer. PVC is polyvinyl chloride, is the world’s largest production of common material, applications widely. Rubber there are many types of rubber, such as natural rubber, cis-1, butadiene-styrene rubber, propylene rubber, and of course silicone rubber.

Mobile phone cover, gloves, waterproof rings, toothbrush handles, various wheels, and sexy doll, etc. are made from soft material, but these materials used are different. What is the difference? how to choose the correct material? First of all, we need to consider the performance of the materials and what they used for. The main properties of soft material are hardness, elasticity, corrosion resistance, weather resistance, coefficient of friction, cracking, coloring, high (low) temperature resistance, cost, processing technology, etc. If used in daily necessities, baby products, etc. we need to pay attention to whether harmful to the human body, whether there is a bad smell, feel comfortable and other factors. Special circumstances also need to consider conductive performance (such as silica gel added conductive carbon can be made of silicone keypads), thermal conductivity, radiation resistance, light transmission performance.


TPE is Thermoplastic Elastomer, which is a Thermoplastic Elastomer material. Thermoplastic means it can be recycled and processed by injection molding. TPE products have excellent coloring, environmental protection, and non-toxic. Can be secondary injection molding, and PP, PE, PC, PS, ABS, and other matrix material coating adhesion, can also be molded alone.

TPE secondary injection molding handle
TPE secondary injection molding handle

The heat resistance of TPE is not as good as that of rubber. With the increase of temperature, the physical properties of TPE decrease greatly, so its application is limited. At the same time, compression deformation, elastic recovery, durability is relatively poor than rubber. The price is also higher than rubber.

TPE material has a wide range of hardness, excellent transparency, gloss, and comfortable feel, widely used in adult products. With good UV resistance, weather resistance, high temperature resistance, long-term use in outdoor.


TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethanes) is called Thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer, the hardness range of TPE is from 60A to 70D of s shore hardness (now has soft TPU with a hardness of 45A around, but its price is very expensive), while the hardness range of TPE can be chosen from shore hardness scale 0 to 100 of shore hardness. Therefore, the TPE hardness ranges are medium-low hardness, while TPU hardness is medium-high hardness.

TPU is superior to TPE in elasticity and elastic recovery (flexure creep resistance). TPU main material is a polymer homogeneous structure, which belongs to the polymer resin. While TPE is a multi-component blend of multi-phase structure aggregation of alloy materials. TPE with high hardness is easy to deform, and TPU shows good elasticity in all hardness ranges, and the products are not easy to deform.

TPU spring wire
TPU spring wire

Some coated molded products, such as handles, wheels, maybe TPE or TPU. TPU material products, feel more roughly, friction resistance, while TPE material products feel more smooth and soft, friction is weak.


PVC is polyvinyl chloride, was the world’s largest production of common material, applications are wide. It should be noted that, on October 27, 2017, The Who’s International Agency for Research on Cancer published a preliminary list of carcinogens, polyvinyl chloride, in the list of 3 carcinogens.

PVC itself is a hard material, but with the addition of a plasticizer, can make the products soft, easy to bend, fold, with elasticity. Such as PVC sheet, PVC panel, etc.

PVC keychain
PVC keychain

From the outside, the PVC product is coarser than the silica gel product, and the surface of the silicone product is smooth and colored. Judging by the hand feeling, the silica gel product quality is soft, toughness and elasticity are good, PVC soft glue is relatively hard. The soft and hardness of PVC and Silicone can be adjusted, but PVC no toughness.

There are common PVC materials and environmental PVC materials also known as ATBC-PVC. While silicone can pass the ROHS test, is environmentally friendly. Silicone products are generally made more transparent, burning smell slightly. After burning, PVC products will be black, smelly. Silicone products are more heat-resistant and cold-resistant, silicone products can be heated in the microwave oven, and PVC not.


Silicone is a thermosetting elastomer, with the advantages of safety and non-toxic, insoluble in water and solvent, non-toxic tasteless, chemical property stability, no reaction with any material, high adsorption performance except strong alkali, hydrofluoric acid, good thermal stability, chemical property stability, the first widely used in medical products, food products, baby products, sports products, such as silicone bibs, menstrual cup, silicone caps, baby suction bowl, etc.

silicone baby bowl

The processing of silicone products is complex, which needs a series of processes such as mixing, molding and vulcanized, etc. Silicone products are thermosetting rubber, after vulcanization when reheating silicone products will not melt. But silicone items can not be directly recycled reprocessing. Silicone products are generally more expensive than TPE products.

Silicone general shore hardness is 0A to 80A, and TPE general hardness in 0A-100A, the softest can reach 000 degrees or 0000 degrees, so TPE softer,

Silica gel has advantages over TPE in high-temperature resistance. Silica gel temperature in general between 200 degrees to 300 degrees. While TPE theory generally temperature between 130-150 degrees, and higher temperature, it will be aging cracking.

Silicone prices are higher than TPE prices except for the special TPE materials, such as halogen-free flame retardant, food-grade, and so on.


There are many types of rubber, such as natural rubber, cis-1, butadiene-styrene rubber, propylene rubber, and of course silicone rubber; Silicone is one of the specific types of rubber, which is short for silicone rubber.

Silicone and rubber are two materials, we can use both under the same environment, but with the change of physical environment and requirements, the performance of the two materials will have a significant difference, but it takes time to manifest. For example, the most commonly used laboratory condensers, there are rubber and silicone, but silicone properties better, the anti-aging effect is significant. In structure, the main chain of rubber is mainly carbon, it is organic, while the main chain of silicone is mainly a Si-O bond, which is the main difference between them.

The coloring of silica gel is rich, can be made into a variety of different colors, rubber products are mostly black, occasionally can see other colors. For example, bicycle tires occasionally have other colors, and car tires are black. The reason is that the process of mixing rubber with carbon black and high-temperature condensation of carbon and hydrocarbon can make rubber very strong, wear-resistance, and anti-aging greatly improved. Rubber price is cheaper than silicone. Rubber molding is almost the same as the silicone molding process. Rubber is more widely used in industry, such as rubber coupling, rubber stoppers, rubber sleeve, rubber buffer, rubber fender, etc.

custom rubber products
Custom rubber products