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Conductive Plastics 2016 | event review


Attendees at Applied Market Information’s first North American Conductive Plastics conference heard a series of experts present the latest developments in electrically and thermally conductive polymer technologies. Jennifer Markarian reports


A meeting of conductive minds


The first North American Conductive Plastics confer- ence took place in Philadelphia, PA, US, in September, presenting an opportunity to learn more about the latest state-of-the-art in the formulation of thermally and electrically conductive polymer compounds. Organised by Compounding World publisher Applied Market Information, the event was attended by more than 100 plastics specialists —ranging from novices in the area of conductivity modification to established industry veterans, and from compounders to electronics OEMs. This article reviews some of the key topics presented at the conference. Conference chair and AMI Magazines Editor-in-Chief Chris Smith opened the proceedings by highlighting examples of growing metal-replacement applications for conductive plastics. With the increasing use of sensors and wireless electronics, along with the move to smaller devices, there is a growing need for better heat management as well as for electrostatic dissipa- tive (ESD) protection, electromagnetic interference (EMI)/radio frequency interference (RFI) shielding, and electrical conductivity, he said. Renewable energy and energy storage is another area where innovative plastics can be used to solve problems and improve technology. The steady increase in photovoltaic installations, increased shipments of fuel cells, and the boom in LED lighting are all further examples of


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opportunities for plastics. Additives commonly used to make polymers


electrically dissipative include inherently dissipative polymers (IDPs), metal particles or fibres, carbon nanotubes, graphene, carbon fibres, and conductive carbon blacks. However, achieving the desired electrical performance requires more than just additive selection. Attendees heard that careful processing of conductive plastics is essential for optimising conduc- tivity and preventing problems. Kari Alha, Research and Development Director at Finnish specialist compounder Premix, pointed out that, when injection moulding conductive carbon black-filled compounds, attention must be paid to aspects such as shear, mould design and gate pressure to obtain even and consistent surface resistivity. Moisture can also cause problems in both injection moulding and extrusion processing, he said.


Shear sensitivity The shear sensitivity of conductive carbon blacks is also a key property for compounders to understand. Christine Van Bellingen, Global Polymer Technical Leader at Imerys Graphite & Carbon, explained that, while shear is necessary for good dispersion, too much will compress the carbon black structure and reduce conductivity. Some carbon blacks are more shear sensitive than others, and there is an optimal com-


November 2016 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 65


Main image: An LED lighting heat sink


produced in PolyOne’s


Therma-Tech compound by


Mars Otomotive


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