TPE ( thermoplastic elastomers) is plastics with rubber-like qualities, making them extremely flexible and durable. TPE is commonly found in automotive parts, household appliances. Soft and stretchable, these filaments can withstand punishment that neither ABS or PLA can to handle. On the other hand, TPE can be difficult to extrude not the easiest filament to use.
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a particular variety of TPE. Compared to TPE, TPU is slightly more rigid, making it more easier to print. It’s a little more durable and can better retain its elasticity in the cold.
TPC (thermoplastic copolyester) is not as commonly used as TPU. Similar in most respects to TPE, TPC’s main advantage is its higher resistance to chemical and UV exposure, it heats (up to 150°C).
3D Printer Filament Properties: Flexible
- Strength: Medium | Flexibility: Very High | Durability: Very High
- Difficulty to use: Medium (TPE, TPC); Low (TPU)
- Print temperature: 210°C – 230°C
- Print bed temperature: 30°C – 60°C (but not needed)
- Shrinkage/warping: Minimal
- Soluble: No
- Food safety: Not food safe
When should I use TPE, TPU, or TPC
Use TPE or TPU when printing objects that need to take a lot of wear. If you want your print to bend, stretch, or compress, these are the right 3D printer filaments for the job.
You may want to print for example toys, phone cases, or wearable’s (like wristbands), then TPU and TPE are great for this. TPC can be used in the same contexts, but does not do well in harsher environments, like the outdoors.
Check out these TPE, TPU, or TPC articles