Silicone vs. TPU

What's the Difference?

Silicone and TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) are both popular materials used in various industries for their unique properties. Silicone is a rubber-like material known for its excellent heat resistance, flexibility, and durability. It is often used in applications that require high temperature resistance, such as oven mitts, gaskets, and medical devices. On the other hand, TPU is a versatile plastic material that combines the properties of rubber and plastic. It offers good elasticity, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance. TPU is commonly used in products like phone cases, sportswear, and automotive parts. While both materials have their advantages, silicone is preferred for its heat resistance, while TPU is favored for its flexibility and versatility.


Material TypeSynthetic polymerThermoplastic elastomer
Temperature ResistanceWide range (-60°C to 230°C)Moderate (-40°C to 80°C)
Chemical ResistanceExcellentGood
HardnessVaries (from soft to rigid)Varies (from soft to rigid)
ApplicationsMedical devices, kitchenware, sealantsPhone cases, automotive parts, footwear

Further Detail


Silicone and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) are two popular materials used in various industries, including automotive, electronics, and consumer goods. Both materials offer unique attributes that make them suitable for different applications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of silicone and TPU, comparing their physical properties, durability, flexibility, chemical resistance, and cost.

Physical Properties

Silicone is a synthetic polymer made from silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. It is known for its excellent temperature resistance, ranging from -60°C to 230°C (-76°F to 446°F). Silicone exhibits low thermal conductivity, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring insulation. On the other hand, TPU is a versatile elastomer that combines the properties of rubber and plastic. It offers a wider range of hardness options, from soft and flexible to rigid and tough. TPU has a lower temperature resistance compared to silicone, typically ranging from -40°C to 80°C (-40°F to 176°F).


When it comes to durability, both silicone and TPU have impressive characteristics. Silicone is highly resistant to UV radiation, ozone, and weathering, making it suitable for outdoor applications. It maintains its flexibility and mechanical properties over a wide temperature range, ensuring long-term performance. TPU, on the other hand, exhibits excellent abrasion resistance, tear strength, and impact resistance. It can withstand repeated flexing and stretching without losing its shape or properties. This durability makes TPU a preferred choice for applications that require high wear resistance, such as footwear and industrial components.


Flexibility is an essential attribute for many applications, especially those involving seals, gaskets, and soft-touch components. Silicone offers excellent flexibility even at low temperatures, allowing it to maintain its elasticity and sealing properties. It can be easily molded into complex shapes without losing its flexibility. TPU, on the other hand, provides a wide range of flexibility options depending on the desired hardness. It can be formulated to be extremely soft and pliable or rigid and tough. This versatility makes TPU suitable for applications that require different levels of flexibility, such as phone cases and medical devices.

Chemical Resistance

Chemical resistance is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a material for specific applications. Silicone exhibits excellent resistance to water, chemicals, and solvents, making it suitable for applications in contact with various substances. It is also biocompatible and widely used in medical and food-grade applications. TPU, on the other hand, offers good resistance to oils, greases, and some chemicals. However, it may not be as resistant to certain solvents and strong acids as silicone. Therefore, the chemical compatibility of TPU should be carefully evaluated for specific applications.


Cost is often a significant consideration when choosing between silicone and TPU. Silicone is generally more expensive than TPU due to its complex manufacturing process and unique properties. However, the cost difference may vary depending on the specific grade, application, and quantity required. TPU, on the other hand, is more cost-effective and readily available, making it a preferred choice for applications where cost is a primary concern. It offers a balance between performance and affordability, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.


In conclusion, both silicone and TPU offer distinct attributes that make them suitable for various applications. Silicone excels in temperature resistance, flexibility, and chemical resistance, making it ideal for high-temperature environments and applications requiring excellent sealing properties. TPU, on the other hand, offers a wider range of hardness options, exceptional durability, and cost-effectiveness, making it suitable for applications that require flexibility, wear resistance, and affordability. Ultimately, the choice between silicone and TPU depends on the specific requirements of the application, and careful consideration of the desired properties is essential to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

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