Which silicone VS TPE is more suitable for sex dolls?

7 min readJun 11, 2021


This article will tell you the advantages and disadvantages of silicone and TPE.

In the sex doll industry, silicone and TPE are currently the two most common materials. Many people may not know the characteristics and differences between silica gel and TPE.

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The difference between silicone VS TPE

1. The difference in feel between silicone and TPE

Silicone generally feels a bit hard, but TPE will be very soft. Of course, silica gel can also be made very soft, but the cost will increase a lot.

So it can be pinched at present, but it will be harder than TPE.

2. The difference in texture between silica gel and TPE

The performance of silica gel is better than TPE, because the material is slightly harder, silica gel will be better; some artificial fingerprints and details can only be expressed with silica gel, while TPE does not perform well.

3. The difference between silicone and TPE in tensile strength

According to different formulations, silica gel can be stretched 3 to 5 times. The TPE can be stretched 6 to 8 times. So TPE has better pulling power and more extreme movements.

4. The weight difference between silica gel and TPE

The same volume of silica gel will be heavier than TPE. The specific weight depends on the manufacturer’s craftsmanship and the level of the inner tank.

5. The aging difference between silica gel and TPE

Silica gel is resistant to high temperature, low temperature, acid and alkali. Except for highly corrosive items, silica gel hardly reacts with any substance. TPE is not resistant to high temperature and is not as good as silicone products in anti-aging.

6. The difference between silica gel and TPE in odor

Silica gel has absolutely no odor, and TPE will more or less smell chewing gum or add fragrance. If it smells very fragrant, it is recommended not to start, because there are cases of allergic reactions to perfume.

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7. The difference in composition between silica gel and TPE

7.1 Organic silicon is divided into inorganic silicon and organic silicon compound.

Inorganic silicon is a highly active adsorption material, usually prepared by reacting sodium silicate with sulfuric acid and undergoing a series of post-treatment processes such as aging and acid foaming.

Organosilicon is an amorphous substance and its chemical formula is mSiO2. nH2O. It is insoluble in water and any solvents, non-toxic, odorless, chemically stable, and does not react with any substances except strong alkali and hydrofluoric acid.

Organosilicon is an organosilicon compound, which refers to a compound containing a Si-C bond and at least one organic group directly connected to a silicon atom.

It is customary to use oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, etc. to form organic groups, and compounds connected by silicon atoms are also called organosilicon compounds.

Silicones are mainly divided into three categories: silicone rubber, silicone resin and silicone oil.

7.2 There are many types of TPE, usually modified with styrene elastomer

The usual TPE refers to the blended modified material TPES with styrene-based thermoplastic elastomer SBC as the matrix.

In fact, there are many types of TPE (including TPES, TPV, TPU, TPEE, TPO, etc.). The TPE mentioned in this article mainly refers to the TPES elastomer based on SBC modification.

8. The difference in appearance between silicone and TPE

8.1 The chemical formula of inorganic silica gel is xSio2·yH2O. Transparent or milky white granular or beaded solid.

There are many different types of silicone, including silicone oil, silicone rubber, and silicone resin. Therefore, the appearance is various, including liquid, solid block or granular.

8.2 TPE is a composite material with no fixed composition. But the appearance is generally transparent or white particles.

9. The performance difference between silica gel and TPE

9.1 Heat resistance

TPE is usually heat resistant to 80~100℃, and silica gel is usually heat resistant to 100~150℃.

9.2 Elasticity and permanent deformation

TPE has a physical cross-linked structure. No matter how good the physical properties are, TPE has a certain amount of permanent deformation.

Silicone is usually crosslinked by adding a coupling agent. Both solid silica gel and liquid silica gel are chemically cross-linked and have good resistance to permanent deformation. In other words, silica gel has stronger elasticity and resistance to deformation than TPE.

9.3 Food grade characteristics

For food-grade materials, different countries and regions have different specific test methods. But the current basic understanding is this:

The composition of silica gel is relatively single, most of the silica gel has passed the residual test of oily solvents (such as olive oil, n-hexane, etc.), and meets the US food-grade standard value FDA 21CFR 177.2600 and the German food contact material standard LFGB.

TPE is a composite system with various components. TPE base resin and softening oil may contain residual organic small molecules, which are easily soluble in oily liquids.

At present, except for a few specific material formulations that can meet 21CFR 177.2600 and LFGB, most TPEs, especially low-hardness TPEs, have failed these two food-grade tests.

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10. Molding equipment between silicone and TPE

10.1 Silica gel is thermosetting. Most of the liquid silicone LSR can be molded by a hydraulic press, and some liquid silicone LSR can be molded by an injection molding machine.

10.2 TPE is thermoplastic, most of which are molded by injection molding machine or extruded by extruder.

11. Waste and waste recycling between silica gel and TPE

11.1 TPE waste can be 100% recycled.

11.2 Waste silica gel is difficult to recycle.

12. Overmolding between silicone and TPE

12.1 TPE and most hard plastics such as PP, ABS, PC, PA, PS, PE, SAN, etc. can be well overmolded and bonded together without the use of glue.

12.2 The overmolding of silicone and hard plastic is usually pre-glued, then injection molded and bonded. However, it is said that modified silica gel is currently available abroad, which can be directly coated and bonded without first applying glue.

13. Cost comparison of silica gel and TPE

13.1 The price of low-end solid silica gel is equivalent to that of low-end TPE, about 20,000 yuan/ton or less.

13.2 The price of mid-to-high-end (liquid) silicone rubber is close to that of high-end TPE, about 30,000–50,000 yuan/ton.

However, most of the TPE applications are in the low-end market, and mid-to-high-end silicones occupy the mainstream of the market. Therefore, in general, the price of TPE is still cheaper than silica gel. If you consider production efficiency and material reuse, the advantages of TPE will be more obvious.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of silicone VS TPE?

Advantages of silica gel

Silica gel is widely used in many fields such as daily necessities, sex toys, medical equipment, electronic industry, etc. because of its soft feel, good elasticity, non-toxicity and safety. However, no matter how good the material is, it cannot withstand human fault and the pursuit of perfection.

Disadvantages of silica gel

The price is not cheap. At present, the price of good quality silica gel on the market is generally not less than 30,000 yuan per ton, and some are even higher.

Long molding cycle. Silica gel needs to be cross-linked (or vulcanized). Except for a few injection-molded silicones, the molding and processing time of most silicone raw materials needs to be measured in minutes, which virtually reduces production capacity.

Cannot be recycled. Because silicone products are all vulcanized and molded. Leftovers, scraps, and waste silicone products cannot be recycled, which virtually increase material costs, which is not conducive to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Advantages of TPE

TPE and silicone have many similar characteristics, such as soft hand feel, good rubber resilience, non-toxic and environmentally friendly, etc. Compared with silica gel, TPE has the following advantages:

TPE soft rubber can be rapidly formed by injection molding or extrusion process, without the need for molding and vulcanization like silica gel.

TPE leftovers, scraps and waste products can be recycled and reused almost 100%.

The cost is relatively low. As above, the general cost of silica gel is more than 30,000 yuan per ton, and most TPE prices are below 30,000 yuan, or even 20,000 yuan per ton.

Disadvantages of TPE

Although TPE has the above advantages, as a thermoplastic material, TPE also has its disadvantages or inferior to silicone.

Not as elastic as silicone. Silica gel is a vulcanized system, and its elastic deformation can be recovered 100% after the external force is removed; when the elastic deformation of TPE exceeds a certain external force or tensile elongation, its elastic recovery is often unable to recover.

Feel slightly worse. The silicone feels soft and smooth. Although TPE has the same outstanding soft touch, it is more difficult to obtain a smooth effect comparable to that of silicone. Although the smoothness of TPE can be improved by adjusting the TPE formula, the cost of TPE is often increased as a price.

Environmental protection is slightly worse. Although TPE basically meets all environmental testing requirements. However, when doing food-grade testing (US FDA 21CFR 177. 2600 and German LFGB), the TPE test failed, and the silica gel completely met the test.

How to distinguish silicone VS TPE

Silica gel: ignite, burn into a bright flame, produce white smoke, and the residue is white powder.

TPE: ignite, the flame is yellow or green with yellow background, producing light or thick black smoke.

Which one is more suitable for sex dolls, silicone or TPE?

Both have their own advantages, but TPE is cheaper than silicone materials in terms of processing performance, recyclability, and cost price. With more and more types and applications of TPE, TPE has become the preferred material to replace silica gel!

In terms of material safety, silica gel is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and tasteless. The most important thing about TPE is that it cannot be reused, while TPE can be recycled.

From the characteristics of the material, silica gel has strong wear resistance and high temperature resistance, while TPE material has better flexibility, but it is easy to deform and has permanent deformation.

Physical dolls have very high requirements for abrasion resistance and deformability, so silicone materials are more suitable for dolls. Most of the dolls on the market are still silicone sex dolls and tpe sex dolls




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