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PVC vs. TPE profiles

Two popular materials stand out for sealing solutions and profiles in building applications: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). Both materials have unique properties and advantages, making them suitable for sealing and profile applications. This article will explore and compare PVC and TPE seals and profiles, shedding light on their characteristics, applications, and considerations for choosing between them.

Material Properties

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride):

  • PVC is a synthetic plastic polymer known for its durability and versatility. It exhibits excellent resistance to chemicals, weathering, and UV radiation. PVC seals and profiles are rigid and provide stability, making them ideal for applications where structural integrity is crucial. Additionally, PVC is cost-effective, making it a popular choice in the construction industry.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer):

  • TPE is a class of materials with rubber-like elasticity while maintaining the processability of thermoplastics. TPE seals and profiles offer flexibility, resilience, and excellent sealing capabilities. They are softer and more elastic than PVC, making them suitable for applications requiring a tight seal and flexibility. TPE materials are also known for their recyclability and environmental friendliness. The latest material developments have brought more rigid TPE materials to the market, thus closing the gap in this sector.

Applications

PVC Seals and Profiles:

  • PVC is commonly used in applications where structural stability is critical, such as window frames, door frames, and pipe fittings. Its rigid nature ensures long-term durability and resistance to wear and tear. PVC profiles are widely utilized in construction due to their affordability and ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

TPE Seals and Profiles:

  • TPE’s flexibility and elasticity make it ideal for applications where a secure and pliable seal is necessary. TPE seals find use in industries like automotive, where they are employed in weather-stripping and fenestration applications, providing an effective seal for doors and windows. The softness of TPE makes it suitable for areas where impact resistance and noise reduction are essential.

Performance Considerations

Temperature Resistance:

  • PVC typically has a higher melting point than TPE, making it more suitable for applications where high temperatures may be a concern. Conversely, TPE excels in low-temperature flexibility, ensuring effective sealing even in cold climates. However, TPE can be treated to withstand very high temperatures, up to the point of being fireproof.

Environmental Impact:

  • TPE is often considered a more environmentally friendly option as it is recyclable and can be reprocessed. While widely used, PVC raises concerns about the environmental impact during production and disposal, primarily due to the release of chlorine-containing byproducts.

Cost Considerations:

  • PVC is generally more cost-effective than TPE, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious projects. However, TPE’s superior performance and environmental considerations may justify its higher initial cost in specific applications. Thanks to its recyclability, TPE can become more cost-effective than PVC when considering disposal costs.

Conclusion

In the choice between PVC and TPE seals and profiles, the decision ultimately depends on the application’s specific requirements. PVC offers durability and structural stability at a lower cost, while TPE provides flexibility, resilience, and environmental benefits. However, our modern solutions for TPE use have increased structural strength, and TPE can widely replace PVC in most circumstances. Understanding the performance characteristics and considering factors such as temperature resistance, environmental impact, and budget constraints will guide the selection process, ensuring the optimal choice for each unique application in the construction and manufacturing industries.

Our solutions

Our TPE profiles are widely used in the construction industry due to their insulating abilities, durability and high quality. Of course, windows and doors are the most apparent components where one could find our profiles, but so many things are still hidden from the naked eye, such as timber frames. You can read more about our customer case with Honkarakenne here.

TPE is a very versatile material, which is why it is also used in heavy industry. The pulp and paper industry requires chemical and tear resistance, which are TPE’s strong suits. We have several ways to make TPE profiles into frames, rings, hoops, and other forms that can be easily fitted into the heavy machinery used in the chemical industry. To learn more about manufacturing frames and rings, read this article.

Furthermore, we have several years of experience manufacturing regular and fireproof seals for the railway and maritime industries. Even though the profiles may look the same, their properties vary depending on the circumstances they will have to endure. One of our most recent transportation industry customer cases comes from the maritime industry, as we helped the largest cruise ship in the world, The Icon of the Seas, set sail on time. Read the full article here.

As we mentioned above, TPE is a more ecological alternative for PVC, but we have taken this even further by developing Bio-TPE profiles. Like regular TPE, Bio-TPE is fully recyclable, non-toxic, and has the same properties as regular TPE. 65% of the fossil raw materials have been replaced with bio-based oils, which makes it a much more ecological option. Read more about our Bio-TPE in this article.

Are you looking for a PVC replacement?

You are not alone. Many of our clients are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives for PVC profiles, and we are happy to help. Our experts can assist you in finding the right solution for your industry. Contact our sales team to start your journey towards a more sustainable future!

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V.A.V. Group specializes in producing tailor-made profiles for customers who have specific requirements for their products. Our production process is extremely flexible with an ability to quickly produce small to medium size production series. We work together with our customers to find the best solution. The company was founded in 2005 and is located in Ii near Oulu in northern Finland.

If you have any questions about our products or company, don’t be afraid to get in touch with us.