New RIM polyurethane technology for encapsulating the sensitive electronics of power supplies such as chargers for cell phones or electric toothbrushes is said to provide a watertight seal and protect against electric shock. Now being introduced in North America by Linden Industries, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the technology was developed jointly by Swiss equipment manufacturer Isotherm AG, Germany's Bayer MaterialScience AG, and Finland's Slacomp Oy, which produces chargers for Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Braun, and Remington. With this technology, electronics are encapsulated in a solid, lightweight, seamless casing of Baydur E polyurethane from Bayer MaterialScience (U.S. office in Pittsburgh). This replaces the two conventional thermoplastic shells. Along with the watertight seal, PUR's good thermal properties result in a product roughly 20% to 30% smaller than thermoplastic housings. The encapsulation is said to be so thorough that the electronics are completely protected from moisture and dust. The power supplies are made in a one-step manufacturing process, whereby liquid PUR is injected by Isotherm high-pressure RIM equipment into a closed mold containing the electronic components. The material surrounds the components and cures in less than 3 min. The cord and components are completely encapsulated and cannot be pulled out or loosened, and the flame-retardant PUR provides added protection. Relatively low processing temperature protects the electronics during encapsulation.
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