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Engineering Materials

Manufacturing safe, high-performance appliance connectors

Connected home systems are among the fastest growing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Globally, the smart home market is projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.4% from 2019 to 2027. The technology enhances convenience in our lives by enabling us to remotely control household appliances, monitor our energy usage and improve home security. Consumers can easily integrate standard home appliances, including refrigerators, ovens, and washing machines, into smart homes using a simple connector.

Yet connector manufacturers need to produce miniaturized designs for appliance producers. With thin-walled parts and shorter creep distances, designs that use an insufficient insulating material increase the risk of electrical tracking, which can start a fire. Since smart appliances are frequently switched on and left running while homeowners are out, connectors need to demonstrate outstanding electrical resistance and flame retardance to ensure end-consumer safety.

Connector producers are also under pressure to make their products more sustainable. This often means replacing flame retardant materials with alternatives that don’t contain hazardous additives, including halogens. Due to the rising demand for smart homes, connector manufacturers require solutions that balance all of their requirements without driving up production costs.

Manufacturing pain points

Each material in DSM’s portfolio offers excellent flow, stiffness and dimensional stability for producing reliable thin-walled connectors that meet IEN 60335-1 international home appliance safety standards. This ensures manufacturers meet safety criteria in every market they sell in, and enables them to use our plastics in all of their facilities – reducing supplier costs. Our flame-retardant halogen-free and bio-based grades significantly improve end-product sustainability without sacrificing safety performance or reliability. 

Minimizing electrical tracking risks   

Competitive connector solutions compensate for insulating materials with a lower comparative tracking index (CTI) by enclosing printed circuit boards (PCBs) in plastic casing. Although effective at reducing build-up of contaminants that cause tracking, this approach drives up costs and extends productions times. DSM materials offer an industry-leading CTI up to 600V, eliminating the need to mold additional components. Superior tracking resistance also affords the freedom to produce miniaturized designs with thin walls and shorter distances between metal contacts. 

Ensuring best-in-class flammability ratings 

Our portfolio offers unmatched heat and flammability resistance, achieving a UL 94 V-0 rating with walls as thin as 0.2mm, and glow wire ignition temperatures (GWIT) up to 960°C with 0.4mm walls – ensuring high safety performance in miniaturized designs. We conduct all glow wire testing (GWT) on fully assembled connectors, rather than plaques, to ensure materials show “no flame” results at high temperatures.

As smart home technology gives us greater flexibility, connector safety and performance are critical. DSM delivers materials that adhere to miniaturization trends, ensure the safety of end consumers, and help you improve product sustainability. We continuously update our portfolio in close collaboration with our customers to respond to changing needs and to drive success through next-generation technologies.

To learn more about DSM’s application connector solutions, download our Safe, Sustainable Appliance Connectors paper .

Find out related datasheet

Learn more about Appliance Connectors 

John Hsieh

Advanced Engineering Manager

Published on

22 December 2020

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Hsieh

Advanced Engineering Manager

John Hsieh, advanced engineering manager for DSM Engineering Materials, has 20 years of product management and technical marketing experience within the entire electronics value chain. He has been with DSM since August 2013 and has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

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