Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) were first introduced into the automotive market in the 1960s, and since that time have become a major class of elastomeric materials suitable for use in motor vehicles worldwide. The development of engineered, higher performance TPEs has resulted in the replacement of thermoset rubber in a wide variety of automotive applications. TPEs can be used in automotive under-the-bonnet applications in three main areas: sealing, heat resistance and fluid resistance. Another class of TPEs seeing wider use are polyolefin elastomer materials whose automotive applications include front and rear bumper fascias and instrument panels. The growth of TPEs within the automotive market has been the result of new product development by TPE suppliers along with the combined efforts of the TPE suppliers, original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers to commercialise a broader base of applications using TPEs. The catalyst for this growth has been the automotive community's desire to reduce cost and improve product performance. Thermoplastic elastomers are attractive as thermoset replacements because of their shorter processing times, full recyclability and lower densities.
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