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EXAMINATION QUESTION - THERMOPLASTIC ELASTOMERS

SAMPLE ANSWER

V. Ryan 2011

 

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Why is Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) suitable for the manufacture of a TV remote control?

Sketch a typical TV remote control

Make reference to General Properties, Product function, aesthetics, and product manufacture in your written answer.
 
TPEs are a collection of Thermoplastic Elestomers. They a combination of thermoplastics and elastomers.

The most suitable for the manufacture of a TV remote control is styroflex. Although classed as polymers, they act like a thermoset rubber. In simple terms, they are a mix of polymers and rubber giving them a combination of the physical properties, attributed to thermoplastics and rubber (elastomers). This can include a combining flexibility (rubber) with toughness (thermoplastics).
 
 
 
PRODUCT FUNCTION
 
The function of a TV remote control is to determine the selection of channels and settings on a typical TV. They contain delicate electronic circuits. Consequently, the circuits need protecting in a variety of ways.
TPEs are excellent insulators. When in use the user cannot interfere with the circuit. Static electricity from the users hands cannot be conducted to the internal circuits, causing failure.
TPEs are tough, strong and possess the mechanical property of flexibility. This means that if the remote control is dropped it is unlikely to be damaged. The casing remains intact and the circuits are protected.
 
AESTHETICS AND PRODUCTION
 
TPEs can be processed through techniques such as injection moulding and blow moulding. This makes them ideal for the manufacture of the casings of remote control units. They are supplied in powered or granular form and as such can be feed into injection moulding machines in a controlled and measured way. They become fluid under the influence of high temperatures, and can be formed into detailed shapes.

The aesthetics of the final design is governed by the way the material can be processed. As TPEs can be injection moulded, the shapes and forms of designs for products such as remote controls, is almost limitless. Injection moulding allows for curves, sharp corners, hollow shapes and detail to be included. The injection moulded case of the TV remote control drawn above, has been manufactured from Styroflex thermoplastic elastomer.
 
 
 
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