What Is TPU?

Author Melissa Hau

When shopping for a new phone case for the latest device, there are a lot of options on the market. The letters TPU come up quite often when browsing cases, and this leaves many customers rightfully confused. They know it refers to phone protections, but not much else beyond that. So, what is TPU, and why is it the top choice for cell phone cases? Let’s take a closer look at this material and its properties.

What is TPU?

TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane which is a class of plastic made from polyurethane created in 1959 by BF Goodrich. This material has a lot of applications thanks to the many unique properties of the material.


TPU material can be used in a wide range of products and applications. While it is commonly used in cell phone cases, it can also be seen in other products all around you. From running shoe outsoles and water rafts, to sporting goods and even medical devices, TPU seems to be everywhere. It can even be seen in a range of applications, such as power tools, automotive instrument panels, keyboard protectors, cable jacketing, and more. This type of material is used in a range of items you probably see every day without even realizing it.


There are a few main properties of TPU worth noting. These properties are the reasons TPU lends itself well to a variety of the applications listed above.

Elasticity - Since this material has a high elasticity, it lends itself naturally to absorbing shocks or impacts.

Liquid Resistance - TPU is also resistant to oil, grease, and stains, which makes it ideal for keeping up its appearance while safeguarding items from liquids.

Abrasion Resistance - This material is abrasion resistant, giving it the ability to maintain appearances and physical integrity against scratches or scrapes.

High Strength - As one of the tougher materials on the market, TPU has a high-strength composition. This means that it is very, very tough to break in normal circumstances. It would take considerable force beyond what most items encounter in a day-to-day routine to break TPU.

Heat Resistance - This material has a considerable heat resistance, meaning it will not melt or warp when exposed to lower to medium-grade heat sources.

Ideal for Phone Cases

With the above-mentioned properties, it is clear to see why TPU is ideal for use in phone cases. The high elasticity ensures the case absorbs the impacts rather than the phone, while the high strength ensures a long-lasting case no matter how tough you are on your cases. The heat resistance is important for a phone case material, because phones, like all electronics, are naturally sensitive to heat. TPU has been tested time and time again in terms of how it handles drops and impacts. As every smartphone owner can attest, accidentally dropping your phone is a nightmare without the right protection. TPU has consistently withstood the most rigorous drop tests for cell phone cases and proven itself a worthy material capable of protecting your device.

Do you need TPU?

Many consumers wonder if there are drawbacks to TPU used in cell phone cases or whether they really need TPU at all. While there are certainly cases without the use of TPU bumpers or TPU lining, these cases do not offer the same level of protection for your device. One reason people may choose to go with a TPU-free case is because of the bulk. TPU is typically used as an inner lining with a shell over it to protect the phone. While this offers the best in protection, it can add a bit too much bulk for users who prefer a slender case. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be an either/or type of purchase. There are plenty of slender models of cases that use TPU bumpers rather than a full interior TPU lining, and this naturally helps reduce the bulk issue. Of course, the best option for protection will still be the cases with TPU liners, given they offer more protection against impacts and drops. Regardless of this, opting for TPU bumpers is better than a case with no TPU elements at all.

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