Polyester vs Polyether based TPU

Whether the TPU is Polyether or Polyester based is critical to the performance properties of the TPU film.  The two types of composition have different advantages and disadvantages and are suitable for different applications.

For example, Polyester TPUs provide high resistance to chemical and oils while Polyether TPUs offer excellent flexibility and resistance to tearing and hydrolysis.

Generally, Polyester is typically used in the softer urethanes films and features strong abrasion, cut and tear resistance, as well as better oil and heat resistance when compared against Polyether-based TPU.  However, Polyether-based TPU features greater resistance to moisture and performs better in low temperature settings.

Specific Properties

Abrasion and Tear/Cut Resistance Properties:

Abrasion resistance can be evaluated based on the two factors of sliding and impingement.  Impingement refers abrasion sustained from impact to the urethane surface from a high angle, whereas sliding refers to abrasion due to friction from scraping and rubbing.

Polyether provides for excellent impingement resistance (e.g., as a curtain in a sandblaster cabinet to resist impact from blasting media).

Polyester has a high tolerance against sliding abrasion resistance which makes it ideal for applications like elbow and knee reinforcement pads.

In terms of tear and cut resistance, Polyester based films will have higher tensile strength and higher cut and tear resistance when compared against Polyether films.

Water and Moisture Resistance

Due to its excellent resistance against hydrolysis and outstanding hydrolytic stability, Polyether-based TPU films are the more suitable if the finished product is expected to be submerged or continuously exposed to very humid or wet conditions.

Oil, Fuel, Chemical and Solvent Resistance

If exposure to oils, fuel or solvents is of concern, a Polyester-based TPU film should be considered due to its greater capacity against degradation from these harsh chemicals.

Low Temperature Flexibility

As temperatures drop, all elastomers, rubbers and urethanes become less flexible and brittle.  This often occurs anywhere between -40°F and -100°F, depending on formulation.  Polyether based urethanes are less affected by cold temperatures when compared against Polyester.

Heat Resistance Properties

While both Polyester and Polyether perform well at higher temperatures, Polyesters withstand elevated temperatures longer and are more resistant to heat aging.