A key application segment where styrenic block copolymer (SBC) thermoplastic elastomers have virtually changed our lives is “ergonomic enhancement” or, as many refer to it, “soft-touch”. SBC TPE enabled ergonomic enhancement of devices and machines allows people to experience a much greater degree of control at the user interface. Additionally, it allows us to operate these devices and machines for longer periods of time while lessening our risks of stress, injury or musculoskeletal disorders.

Ergonomics, or human factors engineering, is the engineering practice of designing products and systems that take proper account of the interaction between a human being and the product or system they are operating. Two main functions of ergonomics are focused on productivity and occupational health and safety. The science of “haptics”, or touch, also allows us to find out more about what feels good to human beings, since touch and feel convey the perception of precise control.

SBC type TPEs have been used successfully in ergonomic design for years. They have inherent bonding capabilities to polypropylene and polyethylene. They can be molded onto a substrate with mechanical locking systems that hold the “soft touch” or TPE segment in place. Their properties lend themselves to ergonomic enhancement; they have a soft feel, are non-slip, and can be formulated to give a velvety aesthetic finish that is pleasing to the operator. These attributes allow for:

  • Greater control at the user interface
  • Longer use without fatigue or stress
  • Less sound and vibration
  • Lower musculoskeletal disorders due to repeated use injuries
  • Higher productivity and efficiency
  • More cost effective solutions



SBC TPE ergonomically enhanced products are all around us and include applications such as:

  • Grips
  • Automobile knobs and buttons
  • Orthotic pads
  • Knife grips
  • Writing instruments
  • Power and hand tools
  • Pharmaceutical bottles and containers
  • Toothbrushes, Razors
  • Many more

For all the remarkable advances in technology that have taken place over recent years, the human operator is still very involved, which is why ergonomics is such an important factor in product design. If you have any questions about the best styrenic TPEs for ergonomic enhancement in your application, let us know. Contact Us Here.

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For more on musculoskeletal disorders read more from OSHA (here) and the Center for Disease Control (here).