We bring electricity to our home and offices to power electronic components. Our electronic devices are only safe when the plastics are flame retardant. They slow down the burning once it starts. Standards for flame retardation are stringent. They also prevent toxic Halogen gases from getting into the environment. In closed living and working spaces, where most electrical equipment is used by people, Halogen free flame retardant plastics are an absolute minimal requirement.
Flame retardant additives are not created equally. That makes your product selection a critical design decision. Testing the quality of a flame retardant additive means actually formulating a final plastic product then characterizing outcome of fire tests. Before you undertake this long process, producers can help you with their experience. You will not see competitive specific information, but you may see previous applications and generic formulations and their results. Here, deep chemical, manufacturing and final product design experience will help.
Why are Flame Retardants Additives Critical?
A flame retardant (FR) is an additive is critical to the manufacturing of plastics to assure the final product characteristics match the need. Flame retardant and Halogen free results can be tested readily. In addition to the final results under fire, additives need to work flawlessly in the manufacturing process. Testing final plastic manufacturing is a fairly quick task.
Final testing and the actual flame retardation characteristics can be a slight product advantage. We only think about electrical outlets and wiring products at first. Yet, electrical environmental products from distribution boxes to wire tubes are also critical plastic products with the same needs as outlets and distribution (connection) products. Essentially a small flame retardation advantage can go a long way in final product design.
Besides electrical applications there are many other uses for flame retardant plastics. The class of products which serves critical industries producing solutions in environments like contact with heat, high energy, sparks or even open fire. Even in areas where plastics may see exposure to heat or fire, like automotive, home appliances and industrial machinery all need to withstand fire to some extent.
Non-Halogenated vs Halogenated Flame Retardants
Flame retardants are divided into two types: non-halogen-based and halogen-based.
Many flame retardants for plastics are Halogen-based. In most applications where people can be exposed to a fire and fumes, Halogen released from plastics is not acceptable. This makes non-Halogenated additives the only option. Essentially in all electrical components, both in wiring and in electrical devices non-Halogenated products can be used. While standards and regulations are not the critical factor, actual product design is the determining factor. In indoor electrical wiring there is no real option. Electrical appliances, especially white goods (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) also have to endure flames or heat and can’t emit Halogen gas. Although non-Halogenated additives may add cost in manufacturing, once they are used in plastics manufacturing they will be used in almost every product regardless of the cost factor.
Halogen is a group of chemical elements that contains elements such as chlorine, bromine and iodine, which everyone has heard about. Halogenated flame retardants are very effective, yet it has been proven that flame retardants that are halogen-free are safer for both individuals and the environment. As a result, many global regulations have been instated in a wide variety of industries, which specifically require manufacturers the use halogen-free flame retardants in plastic-based products.