Halogen-free compounds for cords available from Dow

Oct. 1, 2010
Primarily for consumer-electronics devices, the halogen-free compounds may also end up in the cords used for desktop computing applications.

Dow Wire and Cable recently introduced Dow Sustain, a set of halogen-free compounds that the company says will allow electronics OEMs to make flexible cords safer and more environmentally sustainable than those made with PVC. However, don't expect the Dow Sustain technology to show up inside of patch cords used in structured cabling systems. Dow explained that the four product grades now available in sample quantities for jacketing and insulation are aimed at makers of wires, cables and cord sets for personal electronics, large and small appliances, televisions, DVD/DVR devices, gaming systems, and computers/monitors/USB attachments. That latter product set could be where the halogen-free products ultimately see deployment in LAN environments.

Dow is appealing to wire and cable manufacturers with its new product set, impressing upon them that the Dow Sustain suite exhibits good chemical resistivity, low corrosive off-gassing in the event of a fire, and flexibility that is essential for ease-of-handling during manufacturing as well as the overall look and feel fo the end product.

Simon Leung, Dow Wire and Cable's platform leader for personal electronics, explained the benefits of the Sustain products as well as the momentum that led to their development. "With the demand for PVC alternatives in an electronics market growing fast, Dow has made a significant investment over the last three years in perfecting halogen-free compounds. Dow Sustain is the first halogen-free offering qualifed to meet UL 62, JCS4509 and HD21.14 requirements on a commercial scale while delivering excellent look and fel as well as enhanced product and extrusion performance." (The image at the bottom of this screen shows the European Union HD21.14 smoke-density test setup.)

The company says it worked with Shenzhen BaoHing Electric Wire and Cable Manufacture Co. as well as Volex to trial the new compounds. Both manufacturers were able to meet global standards using Dow Sustain, the company reports.

Volex is best known for its production of power cords. Vice president of global supply chain for Volex Group, Chris Rutherford, said, "Dow Wire and Cable has been a good working relationship with the product development and technical know-how to help us efficiently run their product. The new compound can achieve production rates similar to PVC with only minor investments for extruder screw design and drying conditions."

These new compounds for Dow will most often be found in consumer products with some appearance in desktop computing environments. In structured cabling environments, a set of halogen-free compounds was introduced by General Cable late last year. General's 17 Free product line currently features halogen-free riser-rated twisted-pair cables, and the company has said more halogen-free premises cable products will be coming soon.

View the webcast seminar entitled "Can Cabling Really Be Green?" featuring a discussion of General Cable's 17 Free halogen-free products.

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