Silicone Lovers Sex Dolls Silicone Sex Dolls vs TPE Sex Dolls - What's the difference?
Silicone sex dolls vd TPOE sex dolls

TPE Sex Dolls

TPE stands for Thermoplastic Elastomer although it’s sometimes called Thermoplastic rubber. The reason “rubber” gets thrown in there is because synthetic rubbers are mixed into the plastic to make it extra squishy – which is great for creating lifelike skin, bouncy boobs, jiggly butt, and all those good things on a sex doll.

Most plastics get irreversibly hardened after you heat them in a mould but thermoplastics do not, they remain soft. Most plastics are durable but they are not terribly soft and cannot be stretched and then returned to their original form, whereas synthetic rubbers can. Someone looked at the advantages of thermoplastics and synthetic rubbers and thought – what if I could have both? A soft setting rubbery substance that could stretch and return to its original shape. Thus the combination of both of these polymers was experimented with and slowly perfected from the 1950s until today. In fact, TPE love doll manufacturers are still perfecting and improving TPE’s every year!

Because of their ability to set soft, TPE’s can be readily used with injection moulding. So for instance with a doll, a mould is made in two halves, a front and a back. The metal skeleton is placed inside, the two moulds are clamped together, and the TPE can be injected into the mould at high heat, and then allowed to set. When the mould is cracked open, the TPE inside has set smooth and soft like jelly. Any seam resulting from where the two halves of the mould met, can be “ironed” away using heated pads, resulting in a soft and seamless end product.

 

Where else is TPE used? Have I ever seen it?

Other than sex dolls, some of the uses of TPE are in the medical field. Things like catheters which need to be very soft and very flexible whilst still being durable (no one wants to lose a piece of plastic up inside that area!). TPE is also found in vehicles, for example the tracks on snowmobiles are often made from TPE. So if you’ve ever had much to do with any medical devices, electrical cables, or headphone cables, chances are you may have come in contact with TPE before. If you’ve ever seen or touched a fleshlight, those are made from TPE material.

 

Silicone Sex Dolls

Silicones are thermoset polymers, so unlike the thermoplastic of TPE they cool to a more hardened state. Although some softness and a decent amount of flexibility can be achieved they’re never quite as soft as the best TPE. Silicone isn’t as easy to manufacture and mould like TPE, it requires vulcanization and is a a lot more difficult to work with, meaning that silicone costs more overall.

Although TPE vendors sometimes use the word “platinum” this is generally a marketing term to indicate that the TPE they use is of a very high quality. Only silicone is truly platinum in the sense that they are platinum cured - using precious metals such as platinum as a catalyst to increase the quality. Platinum silicones create food and hospital grade silicone – and is great for dolls as well!

 

Where else is Silicone Used? Have I ever seen it?

Unlike TPE you’re likely to encounter silicone every single day. Due to its high heat tolerance it is often used in cookware – you’ll see it used on the end of spatulas, egg flips, and ladles, it’s used in ice cube trays, cupcake trays and other food moulds and if you’ve ever used them you’d be fairly aware of how silicone feels, it’s firm but it is flexible and has some give. If you’ve ever touched a baby’s bottle, you’ll know the nipple on the end is quite flexible and soft, retaining its shape quite well – and they can be boiled to sanitize them which doesn’t effect the softness or their ability to hold their shape. These baby bottle nipples are generally made from a platinum silicone. Silicone is also used in vehicles, hair conditioner, lubricants, plumbing, toys and of course electronics. Vibrators and other sex toys generally use silicone, it is firm and non-porous which is good for toys which go inside the body.

 

So here’s the rub:

 

TPE:

  • Softer to the touch
  • More flexible, meaning dolls are more flexible
  • Good conductor of heat, meaning dolls warm up to your body temperature much better which is great for cuddling in bed – but TPE is sensitive to excessive heat (so careful with the curling irons!)
  • Hypoallergenic material (the use of synthetic rubbers and no latex means TPE is much less likely to cause allergic reactions)
  • Vulnerable to stains
  • Can be sticky to the touch without talcum powder
  • Porous material (which is why stains are a problem), which means that mould can grow if not maintained and sterilized properly.

 

Silicone:

  • Can have more detailed and realistic features
  • Less sensitive to excessive heat than TPE
  • Easier to sterilize due to less porous nature of the polymer
  • Resistant to stains
  • Low maintenance
  • Hypoallergenic
  • More expensive
  • Sticky without talcum powder
  • Not as soft to touch as TPE
  • Less realistic wobble.
  • Often doesn't have oral features (but not always)

 

So the most important things to think about for a doll buyer is: do I want extra detailed features, or am I okay to let a little bit of that slide to enjoy super softness? The choice is a little tricky and comes down to personal preferences, but fortunately, some brands such are starting to make the choice a little more flexible by combining a silicone head with a TPE body – detail where you want it and softness where you need it!

Here’s a great quote by FLoydPink, a user on The Doll Forum discussing how he found the feel of his new TPE doll after only previously having had a silicone doll:

The TPE on the DH168 is much softer than the silicone on the Sanhui. I find that I actually vastly prefer this. Silicone does have some advantages, like looks, durability, and smell, but the TPE is just so much more huggable and squeezable. I really enjoy it.
And it's not only the TPE itself that contributes to the softness, but silicone dolls like the Sanhui is made with only an outer portion of the doll being silicone, and the inner core is filled with hard foam or similar. This saves weight etc and makes the doll have different, more solid feel. In contrast, the DH168 is clearly TPE to the bone, so you can feel the skeleton if you really squeeze. And it makes the skin have more friction because the skin can be warped and pulled pretty far along with your hand if you drag it forcefully across the surface. This makes it more important to be careful when handling it, don't drag it along the floor for example, it could lead to damage.

As far as we’re concerned, TPE just can’t be beaten on feel or price and it is a firm (or ultra-soft?) favourite of our customers as well! Buy time will tell... More and more manufacturers are turning to silicone today, personally we can't wait to see what the future holds, maybe super soft silicone is just over the horizon! 

May 21, 2020