Most often, in the industry of inflatables, people would confuse about what’s the different between PVC, vinyl and TPU, especially those who just enter this industry.
Short answer is industrially PVC is equal to vinyl, and TPU is a better material than PVC.
Now let’s see what really PVC, vinyl and TPU are. PVC is abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride. Vinyl, especially vinyl chloride, is the nickname of PVC in industry. TPU is a abbreviation for Thermoplastic polyurethane.
So since the PVC and vinyl refer to the same thing, it leaves the question just about the major different between PVC and TPU.
First of all, you should know, PVC can be divided into two categories, one is solid PVC and another is soft PVC. The soft PVC, which is also called flexible PVC, is the material manufacturers use for making inflatable products. But what makes it soft? The secret is the plasticizer and additive. Today, still have lots of debates about whether plasticizers would have bad effects on people.
Here is an article contained a table that list all the details about how TPU is compared to PVC, from aspects like the abrasion resistance, price, eco-friendly, strength, elasticity, etc.
What can PVC use for and what about TPU?
PVC materials have a number of applications, such as pipes and cables, medical devices, flooring and vinyl sidings, handles, kids’ playground and other inflatable toys, and so on.
TPU materials also apply for many modern applications like zorb balls, tubing, caster wheels, medical devices, mobile outer cases, inflatable rafts and so on.
So far, you learn the fact that TPU is better than PVC in some ways, like it’s more good to human health and environment, it degrades more difficult. Although the cost is higher, should we always choose TPU over PVC when it comes to inflatable products?
That’s a no, at least not necessarily. Because not all PVC are hazard, there is lead free PVC that almost all inflatable manufacturers prefer as raw materials. Only some zorb ball manufacturers make TPU zorb balls.