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Thermoset resin helps switch-on to future needs

GE Advanced Materials : 22 July, 2004  (Application Story)
In the electrical industry, the key to fulfilling environmental legislation is being manifested in trend to replace thermoset materials with recyclable ones in their production processes.
Keeping pace with consumers’ desires for new styles and enhanced aesthetics is just one of the many demands faced by electrical manufacturers. A relatively new demand but one progressively growing in importance, is the requirement to ensure that their products comply with emerging EU Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). This obliges manufacturers to take responsibility for the end-of-life impact their products have on the environment.

Choice of manufacturing materials provides the key to fulfilling both consumer criteria and environmental legislation. In the electrical industry, this is being manifested in a clear market trend for manufacturers to replace thermoset materials with recyclable ones in their production processes.

As one of the industry’s global leaders, Schneider Electric España SA, has already been using engineering thermoplastics for some years because they offer a balanced combination of design freedom, ease of processing, excellent aesthetics and recyclability. To help find the material that could optimise Schneider’s ability to deliver the full range of properties required for a popular range of its electrical switch frames and sockets in Schneider’s special ‘Polar White’ colour, the company turned to GE Advanced Materials. Schneider chose Geloy resin as its solution for this ‘appearance’ part, where material colour stability, gloss and surface quality are key demands.

“We were seeking an engineering thermoplastic that could provide colour stability in our special ‘Polar White’ colour,” explains Schneider’s Juan Vicente Carbonell. “And we wanted a solution that best met our performance, cost and aesthetics criteria for the parts. The GE Advanced Materials’ team worked with us to understand the application, helped identify the material and assist us through the colour matching and moulding fine tuning trials.”

An upgrade on the standard Geloy resin was selected by Schneider as offering the balance of properties and characteristics, required by Schneider. Moreover, the new Geloy resins utilize GE Advanced Materials’ halogen-free flame-resistance technology to help meet growing eco-label application demand.

Because the parts are wall-mounted and have a high visibility profile, the colour stability, quality surface and gloss of Geloy resin, together with its UV resistance, provided the required high level aesthetic finish.

Moreover, to closely match performance specifications, two grades of the material were supplied: Geloy EXGY0009 resin for the frames and Geloy EXGY0010 resin for the higher temperature performance of BPT>125C, was specified for the electrical socket.

With wide application in electrical systems for houses, apartments, offices, hotels and hospitals, white is the principal colour of choice for the switch frames and sockets among the largest percentage of end-users. Available from a full palette of colours, Geloy resin was supplied in the extreme Polar white specified by the customer, to satisfy the needs of the majority market, and in an Ivory colour to satisfy a smaller, specialized consumer segment.
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