ADDITIVES: Novel Silicone Combats Processing Issues in Highly-Filled PE Wire & Cable Compounds

Dow Corning's new silicone technology reduced screw torque by as much as 30%.

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A new advanced silicone technology specifically designed to optimize processability of highly mineral-filled PE compounds for wire and cable applications developed by the now wholly-owned Dow Chemical subsidiary Dow Corning, Midland, Mich., is commercially available. By reducing screw torque, die build-up and die pressure, Dow Corning MB25-502 processing additive masterbatch reportedly can improve extrusion throughput by up to 110% compared to PE compounds without a processing aid. It is compatible with LDPE, LLDPE and XLPE, and supplied globally as free-flowing pellets.

According to Christophe Paulo, Dow Corning’s global segment leader for plastics & composites, this is the first processing additive in the industry to combine best-in-class processing with an affordable cost. He notes that the wire and cable industry has been moving toward the use of halogen-free flame retardants, but because of the high loadings required with these mineral additives for effectiveness, major processing issues often emerge. He maintains, that up until now, wire and cable processors could only opt either for expensive, over-engineered additives with higher performance, or low-cost but underperforming products.

MB25-502 has been demonstrated to raise throughput of PE compounds with mineral loadings of up to 70% by weight by reducing screw torque by as much as 30%, accelerating production and cutting energy costs. This silicone masterbatch is also said to avoid die build-up and die pressure that require frequent interruptions for cleaning. By narrowly targeting processability issues instead of including extra functionality, the new masterbatch boasts outstanding results at a competitive price. Moreover, the product is said to be highly efficient at lower loadings (0.5% to 1.0%) than competitive silicone-based additives.