A winning performance

The use of thermoplastic polyurethane brings some material benefits to many types of athletic and sports equipment.

The toughness and durability of Stevens Urethane from JPS Elastomerics makes it ideal for applications in a wide variety of athletic equipment. It is used in bladders for balls and bicycle helmets, in fabric laminated products such as scuba buoyancy compensators, and even as a scuff-resistant layer for the bottom of inflatable pontoon-style boats. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) has tensile strength, abrasion resistance, and ease of fabrication which provide these and other pieces of athletic equipment with long lasting performance.

Air bladders used in balls, helmets, footwear and other equipment must be tough and durable, and must maintain their integrity despite being repeatedly kicked, hit, compressed and flexed. In addition to this physical abuse, such equipment must also withstand environmental punishment, including temperature extremes and moisture. TPU gives these bladders the necessary tensile and burst strength, along with the elasticity and flexibility needed to ‘roll with the punches’. TPU has excellent flex fatique resistance, retains its properties in extreme heat and cold, and stands up to the most challenging conditions. Because it is free of plasticizers, TPU ensures reliable performance over a long working life.

Another important benefit realised with TPU is the ease with which it can be fabricated. TPU is very easy to work with, simplifying production and minimising costs. It can be fabricated in many ways: die-cut, radio frequency sealed and thermally bonded, vacuum formed, heat laminated, and adhesive bonded to itself or other materials. It can also be printed or silk-screened.

TPU air bladders are commonly used in footballs, volleyballs and soccer balls, and to customise the fit of bicycle helmets, hockey skates, and athletic footwear. Gel-filled bladders are used for orthopedic and cushioning shoe inserts.

Another sports-related application reaping the benefits of TPU is a compression dressing which circulates cold water to an athlete’s injured joints. This product not only relies on a TPU bladder to contain and circulate the fluids, but many types also use TPU laminated to fabric for a comfortable covering which remains flexible at very low temperatures.

TPU can be laminated to different fabrics, in a range of combinations found in a wide variety of sporting goods.

JPS Elastomerics. Tel: +1 413 552 1072