WEB EXCLUSIVE: The rapidly emerging market for hybrid and electric cars holds numerous potential applications for specialized engineering resins and compounds that have been proven in other markets but are relatively new to the automotive scene. That’s the view of V. Umamaheswaran (known as “UV”), automotive director or SABIC Innovative Plastics in Wixom, Mich. He notes that the auto industry did not previously require UL 94 flame-resistance ratings, but that is changing with the new vehicles, especially plug-in electrics. Here are some examples he cites of where engineering plastics can fit in the new cars:
•Battery housings can use new FR grades of Noryl PPE alloys and Valox PBT compounds. These parts will need resistance to chemicals, thermal cycling, and heat shock. UV notes that battery cases, which have been up to now simple rectangular boxes of die-cast aluminum, will become more complex shapes more suited to injection molded plastics.
•Flexible Noryl wire and cable jacketing is not new to automotive, says UV, but is likely to get an even greater workout in electric and hybrid cars, where it can cut the size and weight of harness bundles.
•Ultem polyetherimide has so far been used in cars mainly in headlamp reflectors, but it has new potential in electrical connectors. These connectors are growing much larger than before and require Ultem’s high-temperature creep resistance. Also, Ultem films are being developed for capacitors.
•LNP Faradex EMI shielding compounds are another up-and-comer in automotive. “Shielding was not a big issue before,” says UV, “but it is becoming important now for motors at each wheel and new control module housings.” SABIC has been tweaking the flow, heat resistance, and shielding frequency performance of Faradex compounds for these new uses.
•LNP StatKon and StatLoy static-dissipating (ESD) compounds also have new automotive potential in battery cases, electrical brackets, and protective housings for expensive electronic modules.
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