mPPE: Better Performing and Better for the Environment

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

While designing the electrical circuit, you might overlook minor details like the wiring. As the size of applications gets smaller, you need a component that still offers flexibility and motion optimized for better usage. PPE insulation and jacketing material ensure that the application works perfectly due to superior quality so that you can ensure a safer and greener environment.

What Materials Are Used For Puffe...
What Materials Are Used For Puffer Jackets?

Making Cables Safer and Recyclable

Traditional wire insulation usually uses PVC as its main component due to its good electrical and mechanical properties. Moreover, it is lower in cost and easy to use and find. However, the halogen content in PVC possesses the most environmental concerns. Bromine, chlorine, iodine, etc., are highly reactive to the ozone layer and are causing its depletion for many years.

Moreover, the C in PVC stands for chloride, as it makes 29 percent of the stuff. Some other alternatives like Teflon FEP or PTFE have 76 percent fluorine. Both of these variations are not harmful under normal conditions. Still, when you burn them, they exhibit toxic gases and acids.

The halogen plastic releases hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, and other gases upon burning. When these compounds encounter the water, it results in the formation of acids like hydrochloric acid. Also, these gasses are corrosive to the metals as well.

Low-smoke, zero-halogen (LSZH) plastics are some new materials that do not emit smoke or gas burning. Although there may be one percent halogen, they still are tagged as halogen-free. However, these LSZH are not reusable or recyclable, and neither are they suitable for landfill.

However, PPE offers good performance and no emission of harmful gasses. Thus, it is a better alternative to all the above insulation materials.

A cable on fire

Caption: A cable on fire

How PPE Insulation Redefines Wire

 PPE means “modified polyphenylene ether.” It is a hybrid, thermoplastic resin made of polystyrene and polyphenylene ether. It is vital, has average mechanical properties, and can withstand high temperatures. It does not stretch much and keeps its shape well. Also, it works well as an electrical conductor and can stop fires.

Typical uses include TV cabinets, electric motor end caps, PC parts, Impellers, bus bar insulators, pump covering, and lighting devices. Moreover, it is better than other insulations because of:

Smaller and lighter

MPPE has better dielectric properties. Thus you need less insulation while using it on wires and cables, making the walls thinner. The material has a relative density of 1.03, 25 percent to 40 percent less than polyethylene, PVC, and cross-linked polyethylene. Together, PPE and the thinner walls help reduce the weight by up to 40 percent. When combined with wire, MPPE coating can make a hook-up cord up to 45 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than standard PVC wire, and ten times more resistant to wear and tear.

Moreover, PPE can do more than connect to the hook-up wire. You can make and use the insulation in many different ways, such as in multiconductor fixed and flexing cables. For example, some versions on the market still use MPPE as jacket material to replace the “round grey stuff” that is most common in the industry.

You can use it in a wide range of temperatures, and it has high dielectric strength. It can also resist flames, which is why UL approved it as an insulating material or jacket for more than 100 types of AWM cables with a VW1 fire test rating. MPPE insulation cables can easily compete with traditional PVC, and they have a lot of potential.

Durability 

Even though PPE has thinner walls, it is ten times more resistant to wear and pinching than PVC. It’s not as thick, but it’s stronger. For example, the following table shows how the higher tensile strength and less stiffness rating of PPE work together to make rigid, durable, and flexible insulation.

mPPE wire vs. PVC insulated wire

Caption: PPE wire vs. PVC insulated wire

Recyclability

MPPE is not only different in terms of size and efficiency, but you can also recycle it. First, in the wiring and cabling business, MPPE can be recycled at the end of its lifecycle. There are no halogens or heavy metals in the compound. Thus it meets the recycling and safety standards set forth by RoHS and WEEE. It is the first to achieve the UL and CSA approval requirements for temperature, strain, flexibility, and flame retardancy without halogens or heavy metals.

Most engineers do not replace a high-performance component with a “greener” alternative because they fear losing other advantages. However, there is now more emphasis on medical device producers moving toward a “greener” engineering methodology. Because of the recent amendments in the RoHS Directive (RoHS 2), which went into effect January 2, 2013, now cover medical devices and monitoring and control systems. 

Additionally, much medical equipment uses traditional PVC insulation, including hazardous halogens like fluorine and chlorine. But, they produce toxic acids when you recycle the material at the end of its lifetime. So, device makers must now meet higher regulatory standards to successfully do business in the market while attempting to reduce the size and weight of their goods to meet demand. Also, with the new Directive to end hazardous compounds, the traditional insulation pillars of the market would inevitably be significantly affected.

Drawbacks of PPE material

  • PPE insulation significantly has more cost attached to it than other options
  • The engineers tend to be resistant while using the PPE since it is new in the market, and the specialists still do not properly know its handling. Still, companies like Toyota Tundra use PPE-based components, and others are also setting goals to convert to PPE completely.
  • You need to run a cost-benefit analysis that features all the performance parameters like size, safety, and durability. That way, you can opt for a good solution.
mPPE cable

Caption: PPE cable

Conclusion

The PPE has dispelled the idea that eco-friendly products must sacrifice performance for environmental benefits. In addition to ensuring compliance with regulations, the usage of this insulation will help engineers improve the quality of their products. PPE insulation will assist medical devices in moving toward a more compact and environmentally friendly design in the future. Here at Bloom, we offer wiring harnesses and cable assemblies with a wide range of insulations, so your connection is made with attention to detail.

Get a free Cable Assembly Quote.