Polymers in electronics
Author Robin Conrad
The electronics industry is one of the largest industrial sectors worldwide. It produces and develops products that deal with the generation, distribution, storage and use of electrical energy. Kuraray – a leading thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) manufacturer – supplies SEPTON™ styrenic block copolymers and KURARAY LIQUID RUBBER materials for key applications of today and the future.
Specific Kuraray grades meet high safety standards and quality requirements of the electronics industries. Reduced conductivity, flexibility and good resistance to microorganisms are the distinguishing features. Wire and cable products for 5G technologies are a significant area of application for these materials. Furthermore, they are used for the manufacture of products for the personal electronics sector.
Applications for electronics
Kuraray’s materials for the electronics industry improve product performance properties such as flexibility and usability at cold and high temperatures, including flame retardancy. Due to higher resistance to microorganisms, the quality and service life of the end products are increased. The use of these materials also offers the possibility of reducing plasticizers and low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Below you will find application examples for materials from Kuraray for the electronics industry. If you have any questions about other possible applications, please contact us.
Self-driving cars, smart factories and new communication technologies: the 5G standard paves the way for innovations. As one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals manufacturers, Kuraray supports the industry with innovative materials in the development of sophisticated 5G technologies.
Optical fibers play an important role in the expansion of the 5G network. As the underground link between radio masts and base stations, they facilitate extremely high data rates and in modern vehicles they connect, for example, sensors and electronic control units. A robust casing is needed to give these sensitive cable assemblies lasting protection in tough conditions.
With their particularly high scratch and abrasion resistance, the high-performance elastomers of SEPTON™ Q-series protect the sensitive fibers exceptionally well as cable sheathing and offer all-round protection for optical fibers. Compounds with SEPTON™ Q-series as the base polymer retain their elasticity permanently even at very cold and warm temperatures, under water, in steam or in tropical climates, and are much lighter and more robust than conventionally used materials such as TPU or TPC. In addition, the materials stand out with their very good insulating properties – for secure and stable data transmission in the 5G network or for high-speed transmission components in modern vehicles and communication devices.
SEPTON™ Q-series is highly suitable for use in co-extrusion and film extrusion processes. In addition, it can be combined effectively with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Compounds of these two materials have an exceptionally fine and uniform structure and an extremely good performance profile. The energy return of films made from a compound of SEPTON™ Q-series and PMMA is almost three times higher than comparable TPU films, so they have far higher elasticity. The materials perform better – in some cases far better – than conventional materials in both the Erichsen scratch test and the pinhole test. Another benefit is that the SEPTON™ Q-series has far better adhesion to polyolefins than other engineering elastomers. Therefore, these materials are particularly suitable for over-molding applications, for example, for housings and casings in the electronics industry.
With the SEPTON™ Q-series products, Kuraray offers industrial users a high-performance alternative to conventional TPEs. The SEPTON™ Q-series is very well suited for many applications in the electronics industry because the materials can be combined with polymers such as PMMA and polyolefins. And thanks to its excellent mechanical and electrical properties, the SEPTON™ Q-series is suitable for the production of exceptionally high-durability fiber optic cables to ensure the successful rollout of the 5G network.
SEPTON™ is a series of styrenic-based thermoplastic elastomers. Their block copolymer structure consists of styrene-based hard blocks and a hydrogenated polydiene soft block. These hydrogenated di-block and tri-block styrene copolymers exhibit rubber-like properties over a broad temperature range. Due to its thermoplastic properties, SEPTON™ is recyclable.
A broad range of SEPTON™ products are furthermore a preferred material in the manufacture of gels. Thermoplastic gels are used in a variety of applications, ranging from industrial cable filling such as thixotropic gels. Characteristics like molecular weight distribution, low melt viscosity, excellent low temperature behavior and superior processability at a low shear rate, ensure excellent processability and flexible gel compounds.
SEPTON™ 1000-series is a series of Styrene Ethylene Propylene Block Copolymers. The SEP structure provides excellent clarity and good flowability. The main areas of application for the SEPTON™ 1000-series are cable/wire filling compounds in addition to cosmetics, adhesives, clear sealants and automotive products. SEPTON™ 1000-series is used as a cable-filling compound, to protect from water seepage and fill the voids in groups of wires such as telephone cables and fiber optics.
Furthermore, various grades of KURARAY LIQUID RUBBER are used as a viscosity modifier to improve their performance. Incorporating KURARAY LIQUID RUBBER into peroxide-cured EPDM rubber can improve hardness, compression set and processability. They are also co-vulcanizable with base rubber, which reduces migration, and are colorless and odorless with low VOCs. Typical applications include medium and high-voltage insulating wires and cables and polymeric insulators.
An important area of application for Kuraray materials is the personal electronics sector. This is where the SEPTON™ grades SEPTON™ 2000-series, SEPTON™ 4000-series and SEPTON™ BIO-series come into their own. These TPEs from Kuraray show their strengths – which can literally be felt – particularly where the end product comes into contact with skin, such as wristbands for smartwatches, fitness trackers or sensors.
Good skin compatibility and a pleasantly soft-touch feeling are the hallmarks of these materials, which result in a high level of wearer comfort. They are nevertheless robust and feature very good chemical resistance as well as high mechanical strength, abrasion resistance and UV resistance.