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Conductive Polymers Taking Charge and Heating Up!

Donald Rosato – Feb 28, 2020

Electrically Conductive (EC) compounds find use in electronic, medical, automotive, and industrial mining end-use applications. A broad range of EC additives are available for specialty compounding where the key goal is to achieve the desired EC property while maximizing mechanical strength.

Thermally Conductive (TC) plastics will grow at double-digit rates over the next ten years. New TC additive and compounding technologies are advancing rapidly.

Key application development areas include:

  • LED (Light Emitting Diode) heat sinks
  • A broad range of electronics parts, and
  • Heat exchanger components

End-Use Applications are Driving EC (Top) and TC (Bottom) Optimized Compound Development (Plastics Institute of America)

End-Use Applications are Driving EC (Top) and TC (Bottom) Optimized Compound Development (Plastics Institute of America)
End-Use Applications are Driving EC (Top) and TC (Bottom) Optimized Compound Development
(Plastics Institute of America)

Let's begin with the latest electrically & thermally conductive additive and compounding technologies used in conductive plastics...


LEHVOSS’ Carbon-free ESD Compounds for Metal Replacing Applications


The LEHVOSS Group, with assistance from Milliken, has recently commercialized Luvocom® ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge) carbon-free PolyPhenylene Sulfide (PPS), PolyEtherEtherKetone (PEEK) and other high-performance ESD polymer compounds.

  • Milliken supplies its carbon-free Zelec™ EC powders that provide consistent ESD performance levels. 
  • In metal replacing automotive and aerospace, lower weight and lower cost applications, LEHVOSS’ carbon additive-free approach minimizes corrosive chemical interactions between metal and plastic surfaces. 
  • Milliken’s Zelec™ EC powder particles have a silica-coated, dense, antimony-doped tin oxide core that maintains additive integrity during high shear compounding, and in turn efficiently and consistently dissipates electrostatic charge in the finished product.
LEHVOSS Group/Milliken Developed Luvocom® ESD Compound Barrier Mat
LEHVOSS Group/Milliken Developed
Luvocom® ESD Compound Barrier Mat

Further, this EC additive compounding approach is extremely useful in developing high-heat compounds with consistent ESD performance without sacrifice to mechanical properties.


OCSiAl's Graphene Nanotube Concentrates for Mining Ventilation Ducting


OCSiAl’s EC Tuball™ Matrix Graphene Nanotube PVC Compound for Mining Ventilation Ducting
OCSiAl’s EC Tuball™ Matrix Graphene Nanotube PVC Compound for Mining Ventilation Ducting
OCSiAl has commercialized an electrically conductive (EC) graphene nanotube concentrate called Tuball™ Matrix 801. It brings permanent and consistent EC capability to a range of compounds based on:


A highly static dissipative 107 Ω/sq (Ohms per square) PVC plastisol coated on a fiberglass mesh tube with maintained ruggedized mechanical performance is finding use in mine shaft ventilation ducting, as well as other textile substrate coatings and industrial treadmill belting.

At 0.5 wt.% of graphene nanotube concentrate in PVC plastisol loading, color consistency and fastness is also maintained, along with permanent humidity independent EC capability. Graphene nanotubes provide all these performance features.


Orion's Carbon Black Beads for Injection Molding Applications


Finally, Orion Engineered Carbons has developed carbon black-based XPB 633 Beads that simultaneously provide antistatic and Electrically Conductive (EC) properties. XPB 633 Beads when compounded feature improved conductivity at low concentrations versus competitive carbon blacks, superior dispersion, excellent melt-flow rates, and mechanical strength maintenance.

Orion Engineered Carbons XPB 633 Beads PA Compound for Auto Fuel Pump Valve Caps
Orion Engineered Carbons XPB 633 Beads PA Compound for Auto Fuel Pump Valve Caps

Applications for XPB 633 Beads enhanced compounds include molded automotive fuel canisters, electronic housings and EC pipes/profiles/packaging films. XPB 633 Beads are suitable for compounding in a wide variety of polymer systems such as:



Thermally Conductive Mineral Additives for LEDs by George H. Luh


George H. Luh GraphCOND LED Lighting Bulb Base
George H. Luh GraphCOND® LED Lighting Bulb Base
Continuing, popular LED lights in the automotive market require long-term thermal management that supports the development of TC compounds. Longer-term electric and hybrid vehicles that generate more heat than existing conventional car batteries will also require TC compounds for effective heat management.

German company Georg H. Luh is a market leader in TC mineral additive products for heat management. Their technology is based on graphene nanoplatelets that enhance not only thermal but also electrical conductivity. There are two base grades namely:

  • GraphTHERM® – It delivers high thermal conductivity.
  • GraphCOND® – It has a good thermal conductivity at very low filling rates that maintains high mechanical property performance.

Another recent Georg H. Luh product development is MagTHERM that enhances thermal conductivity while maximizing electrical insulation performance.


LATI's Graphite-filled Thermally Conductive Compound for LED Heat Sinks


Delving further, Italian compounder LATI has developed a 70% graphite-filled Laticonther® 62 GR/70, PolyAmide 6 (PA6, Nylon 6)-based Thermally Conductive (TC) compound. It has a thermal conductivity of 10 W/mK (Watts per meter degree Kelvin) versus more traditional TC materials such as steel at 160 W/mK or aluminum at 240 W/mK that are finding growing use in electronic device heat sinks.

Recently, LATI’s Laticonther® 62 GR/70 compound was selected for molded heat sinks for Romania’s Electromagnetica’s COB (Chip On Board) LED used in their projector lamp system.

  • The new COB-based LED lamp design is mounted directly onto the heat sink base with a two-lamp format. This results in fewer parts, welds, no lenses that translates into lower heat generation.
  • Thus, a traditional metal-based heat sink at 150°C reduces to 80°C in the PA6 plastic case.

LATI's Laticonther® 62 GR/70 PA6 TC Compound Based LED Projector Lamp Heat Sink
LATI's Laticonther® 62 GR/70 PA6 TC Compound Based LED Projector Lamp Heat Sink
Further, optimized heat sink design refined the base thickness, and importantly the shape and spacing of the heat sink fins. All these key factors contributed to an improved metal replacing, heat efficient, lighter weight & lower cost heat sink.


Latest Developments in Conductive Polymers & Additives – Stay Alert!


Identify where the true potential lies in the conductive polymers & additives landscape and how it opens up new opportunities for you to make better R&D decisions. Take the Course "Conductive Polymers & Additives: Latest Development Opportunities 2020" by Donald Rosato today!

Conductive Polymers & Additives: Latest Development Opportunities 2020



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