FR Polyolefin Challenges FEP in Plenum Cables

A new proprietary flame-retardant polyolefin compound reportedly has a combination of processability, good electrical properties, moisture resistance, and toughness/flexibility that allow it to replace FEP fluoropolymer in star/cross separators for Plenum Category 6 communication cables.

A new proprietary flame-retardant polyolefin compound reportedly has a combination of processability, good electrical properties, moisture resistance, and toughness/flexibility that allow it to replace FEP fluoropolymer in star/cross separators for Plenum Category 6 communication cables. Unigard RE DFDA-1675 NT is the first of several new halogen-free compounds for that market planned for commercial launch this year by Dow Chemical Co.’s Wire and Cable business unit in Houston. Says global new business development manager Thorne Bartlett, “We saw a need for lighter cable and more flexibility in this application. Cross webbing does not require the high strength or flame retardancy of FEP. This polyolefin compound has passed the UL NFPA 262 flame test for Plenum Category 6 applications and its FR properties are very close to those of FEP. The material is 30% lighter than FEP, which translates into 5% lighter plenum cable weight, and it can be extruded at higher rates with no special tooling requirements. We are also looking to supplement a supply shortage of prime FEP.” Compared with FEP, the new material has similarly low smoke density and toxicity levels, Dow says. It has 1.54 g/cc density, Shore A hardness of 96, Shore D hardness of 41, tensile strength greater than 1300 psi, and tensile elongation above 120%. Other products in this new family will be aimed at tapes, insulation, and some jacketing applications that need less tensile strength.