Platinum silicone: The King of Doll Material or Just Another Mediocrity
Posted By SANHUI Team on 14/11/2019
As a manufacturer that has been producing silicone dolls for a long time, Sanhui is grateful for the long-term trust and support of our consumers. This article is dedicated to our loyal doll lovers and peers, as a gesture of our thankfulness.
The only reason that we publish this article is to provide our consumers with some knowledge of materials used in realistic dolls, and so to help you choose wiser.
We were shocked when some of the merchants describe platinum silicone as a cheap type of silicone. Some silicone doll manufacturers even made untruthful and misleading public statements about silicone types without the complete knowledge of material classifications and characteristics. Personally, these behaviors are very irresponsible for consumers. The manufacturing cost of silicone raw materials and the production process of silicone dolls are far different from TPE dolls. When a premium platinum silicone doll is priced equally or even lower than a TPE doll of the same size, would you have faith in purchasing it? Well, some will, because not everyone is an expert in plastic materials. There is never a shortage of lab mice in this world. We have faith that every manufacturer with a sense of conscience and responsibility will stand up to the above behavior. Nowadays, a large group of our doll lovers may be more experienced than us manufacturers when enjoying a doll, but may not have a thorough knowledge of doll-making materials. Not to mention new consumers that are experiencing realistic dolls for the first time. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to share our knowledge in these aspects. We are open to comments and critiques from professionals if we make any misleading statements.
Currently, popular doll materials can be classified into three major categories: TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), silicone, and platinum-cured silicone. The following paragraphs will introduce different characteristics of each of these materials. But before we start, we’d like to clarify that there are no so-called “TPE silicone” dolls or “platinum TPE” dolls, as misspecified on some other website. It doesn’t make any sense to add the platinum catalyst to TPE. These misspecifications are targeted at consumers who are not familiar with doll materials. These are schemes that have been used by a lot of manufacturers years ago when they use the keyword, “TPE silicone dolls”, to deceive consumers. In fact, due to the high manufacturing cost of silicone dolls, there are only a few manufacturers in China that are truly producing silicone dolls. Silicone dolls not only use more expensive raw materials than TPE ones but also require more advanced technology in the production process. In addition to the cost, silicone materials scrapped during the manufacturing process cannot be reused, since silicone cannot be recycled once cured. Therefore, we would also like to friendly remind our peer manufacturers that do not rush into this material without a thorough understanding of its characteristics. This can easily result in a huge loss of investment.
With the help of the internet, a lot of our doll lovers can tell that TPE and silicone dolls are made of different materials, but many may not be familiar with the difference between high and poor quality TPE. Just like many other products that we use every day, TPE material from a premium brand, a secondary brand, or a no-brand can be different in quality. Although they are both TPE, high-quality TPE and poor-quality TPE are not the same. One thing for sure is that recycled TPE cannot be “good quality”. They are poor-quality material just like the recycled plastics that you might be familiar with. Similarly, silicone materials can be different. Platinum-cured silicone, or platinum silicone, is the best kind of silicone among all. Platinum silicone is super friendly to the human body, non-repulsive, with excellent stability and physiological inertia, and food-grade safety. This is why medical equipment is often made of platinum silicone. Every type of product may have good, poor, or premium quality. We hope consumers don't choose solely based on online promotions or pictures, without knowing the product. We also encourage all consumers to see products physically (especially some details) before buying. If conditions not allowed, you can always request to see the actual product through video or ask manufacturers to provide the material certificate. You may also ask for a small sample of doll material to see how it feels and smells, its softness (this can usually be customized by requirement), oil yielding, tensile strength, tear strength and etc. (Tear strength is an important aspect in, for example, the realistic appearance of vagina and the size of its entrance. When using poor-quality material, due to the lack of tear strength, the entrance of the vagina becomes easy to crack if the entrance is made to be realistic and small. To avoid such an issue, manufacturers using poor material have to sacrifice the appearance of the vagina and made the entrance bigger. However, there is still a risk of cracking due to the toughness of the material.) These aspects should be clarified first to reduce the risk of being deceived.
The following paragraphs provide a brief introduction of types of materials and their properties for reference.
TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) :
Characteristics of TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) :
TPE dolls take up more than 90% of the current doll market. The main component of TPE is white mineral oil and a variety of thermoplastic elastomers. (On October 27, 2017, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer published a preliminary list of carcinogens. Untreated or treated mineral oil is in the List of IARC Group 1 carcinogens. White mineral oil or high refining mineral oil is in the list of IARC Group 3 carcinogens.) Some of the doll manufacturers use a formula ratio of 1:10 to 1:11 (the ratio of elastomers to white mineral oil). Of course, white mineral oil can be different in quality. Some may be environmentally friendly and some may be toxic. But In general, the larger the proportion of white mineral oil is, the lower the production cost is and the material is softer, oilier and of lower tear strength. A lot of doll lovers don't have such knowledge while they pursuit extreme softness, which can be a misunderstanding. The best ratio of elastomers to white mineral oil should be held around 1:8 to 1:9. In this way, the output products are relatively well-shaped, less oily, moderately softness, and deforms slower, which also have advantages in daily maintenance and long-term storage.
TPE is used by most manufacturers because of its softness, good flexibility, cheaper cost, and its capability of being recycled and reused. The products produced by the secondary material (recycled TPE) will be even softer, but smellier and the tear strength can be very low. Therefore, recycled TPE cannot be used as a solo material. Usually, recycled TPE is mixed with new TPE material in production to reduce the cost and enhance the material. The proportion of secondary material should be kept around 10%-15%. If more than 30% of recycled TPE is used, the output products will have very limited quality. You may see some TPE dolls that are priced extremely low, sometimes close to or even lower than the cost of raw TPE materials. Manufacturers of these dolls are still making good money and the reason behind should now be clear to all. This is a popular scam targeted at newbies.
One disadvantage of TPE is that it needs to be melted first and then injected into the mold. In short, TPE is a hot-melt elastic-plastic (solubility is about 150-250°C). Since TPE cools down very fast in the molding process, the air in the mold cannot be discharged completely in such a short period, which will cause bubbles or material missings in some parts. These require manual repair at a later stage. Depending on the skill of repairing technicians, manual repair may cause unevenness, and some details have to be sacrificed when the details cannot be restored to the original shape. Moreover, the doll will gradually crack and deform as the TPE material oils out. TPE doll has an average life of 2-3 years, depending on the storage condition and maintenance. When TPE is melted at a high temperature, it will produce a pungent plastic smell (the level of the odor varies by material qualities), and the TPE doll made with the recycled material (secondary material) will have a stronger smell. Many manufacturers add fragrances or deodorants to TPE to cover its original odor. The fragrance is usually strong and therefore may cause discomfort. Besides, TPE dolls are not as resistant to dye and dust as silicone dolls. Although TPE dolls have many limitations, they are still relatively popular because they are less expensive.
Characteristics of Silicone:
A small number of manufacturers use silicone (silicone polymer) to make realistic dolls. When it comes to silicone, people often misunderstand it as a kind of plastic. Silicone is a completely different chemical material from plastic. The main chain of silicone consists of silicon and silicone polymer with alternating oxygen atoms. Silicone has good heat resistance and stability and can maintain flexibility at a temperature as low as -55 °C. It can also maintain stability for a long time without deformation or melting at a temperature as high as 180 °C. Even when under extreme temperatures such as 200 ° C or above, silicone material is still able to maintain elasticity and flexibility for several weeks or longer. It can also maintain temporary stability in the case of a high temperature of 300 ° C or higher. Besides, silicone has excellent physiological inertness and is very friendly to the human body, which made it widely used in the medical fields.
Advantaged of Silicone:
Silicone has advantages such as no-odor, high tensile strength, good flexibility, deformation-resistance. It is a safe, reliable, and durable material. With proper care, silicone dolls can usually last for more than 5-10 years. Compared to TPE dolls, silicone dolls are less susceptible to dyeing and dusting (performance may vary by manufacturers' formulas). The silicone doll production process does not require high-temperature melting. Dolls are usually formed by natural curing at room temperature and the air discharge process takes up to 8-12 hours. Therefore, the dolls will be free of bubbles or material missings. The details of the dolls produced can be well preserved as its prototype and will look beautiful as long as the prototype model is delicate and realistic. Of course, this process requires more advanced technology in craftsmanship and results in a much higher cost. This is why silicone dolls are relatively expensive.
The material cost is much higher. The price of the silicone raw materials is 3-5 times or more of the price of TPE raw materials, and silicone materials cannot be reused. The softness of silicone is slightly lower and the stretchability may not be as good as the TPE.
Characteristics of Platinum silicone:
Platinum silicone is a kind of silicone, which belongs to the silicone polymer family (referred to as organic silica gel). Platinum (5000-10000ppm per kg) in platinum silicone serves as a catalyst, which accelerates the synthesis speed of silicone. The platinum-cured silicone is more consistent and does not decompose or age as easily under temperature change as poor-quality silicone. Platinum silicone is soft and flexible. It is the material that is most friendly to the human body and therefore is widely used in baby pacifiers and medical supplies. With liquid platinum (as a catalyst) and a good formula, platinum silicone can achieve the same softness as TPE while maintaining the stability of silicone. Platinum silicone is a high-quality material. Dolls made of platinum silicone, if used and cared properly, can have more than 10 years of life with like-new exquisiteness. Platinum silicone is environmentally friendly, hygienic and safe, which makes it the most ideal material for doll making. The only disadvantage is that the price is usually high. The price of platinum silicone dolls is normally above $1500 and can reach up to several thousands of dollars.
In summary, one can easily distinguish among the three types of dolls, TPE, silicone and platinum silicone, by the following methods.
1. The out-of-box smell
One can distinguish TPE from silicone and platinum silicone by its unique smell. (It has a repulsive smell of fragrance or plastic. The smell usually reduces after long-term inventory. ) The smell of TPE will be persistent for a long time even after cleaning. The smell will gradually reduce in one to three months, and fade in the long run. On the other hand, platinum silicone dolls may have a smell of talcum powder, which is applied to dolls before they leave the factory. Many consumers mistake the smell of the talcum powder with the smell of TPE, but one should be able to distinguish when paying attention.
2. The Difference in Makeup
The makeup on TPE dolls usually fades easily, because of the nature of TPE material. Silicone is relatively more durable and holds makeup better. Although some chemicals can make long-lasting or even permanent makeup, we do not recommend the use of such materials for health and safety reasons. Our doll makeup is made of environmentally friendly silicone-specific pigments, which is durable after special treatment.
3. Touch feelings
Platinum silicone is softer than silicone and is close to the texture of TPE. One should be able to distinguish the material though touching or kneading the doll by hand. Silicone dolls have a harder texture. If the texture is soft but not slippery, the doll is made with platinum silicone. TPE dolls have an unusually soft feeling.
4. Mode seam line observations
TPE doll is produced by injecting heated plastic granule or powder into the mold. The mold seam lines can be repaired by heating tools such as electric irons or hot air guns. (Repairs in the areas like vagina or underarms are usually not recommended since it may result in tearing when the dolls raise hands or open legs). Silicone products are naturally cured at room temperature and can withstand temperature extremes. Therefore, there is usually a noticeable parting line along the side of the finished body. This is normal. (The parting line of silicone dolls is generally hand-trimmed, and therefore noticeable. Depending on the professional skills of the manufacturer, the line can be barely noticeable or quite obvious.) This feature can also be used to distinguish between TPE and silicone dolls.
Many leading international doll manufacturers started as TPE dolls producers. They then switch to the use of platinum silicone, since they could not make delicate details and durable dolls with the limitation of TPE material. The price of their dolls needs not to be said. Interested consumers can go and find out themselves.
Another important knowledge that we’d like to mention is that silicone dolls and TPE dolls should not be put close together for a long time. If you need to take a picture of the dolls together, you want to separate them as soon as possible after the shooting. If silicone and TPE dolls are put together for more than three days or a week, the TPE dolls are likely to oil out due to the chemical reactions. This will accelerate the cracking and shorten the life of the dolls. We hope our doll lovers can keep this in mind all the time!
A small advertisement: Nanning Sanhui is not a high-profile manufacturer in the doll industry, but is dedicated to researching and developing and holds several inventions and patents. In 2017, Sanhui successfully passed the FDA inspection of SGS, and its platinum silicone material is approved to be non-toxic and harmless to the human body according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification standards. Therefore, you can buy and use Sanhui dolls with confidence. In 2019, Sanhui continues to improve on its platinum silicone material and body skeletons. Improvement of the silicone materials has been made and new skeletons have been developed. The performance and durability of Sanhui’s platinum silicone dolls are greatly improved.
A Special Note:
Many doll lovers simply view the doll price as the raw material price, which is a misunderstanding. For example, KIA, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche are all auto vehicles, but why are they priced so differently? Of course, the quality of material used is one of the most important reasons. But even with similar materials, there are differences in the core technology and research & development cost, which is why the quality and price vary greatly. We hope that you don't mistake ginseng as radish, and don't use radish as ginseng, although they may look a lot like.
The article ends here for now. We thank our consumers again for your support of Sanhui. Our team will continue to work hard to provide our consumers with more economic and reliable platinum silicone doll products. We wish you all the best!