DSM Engineering Plastics

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New standard for charging and data connectors generates less e-waste, but imposes increased fire risk

28 June 2019
  • Dr Tamim Peter SidikiGlobal Marketing Director Electronics at DSM Engineering Plastics

Stanyl® PA46 offers CTI value of >600 Volt and UL94-V0 @0.18mm specification, ensuring safety and reliability  

Globally, approximately 45 tons of e-waste from different charging cables is generated every year. This amount of e-waste, plus the frustration about too many charging standards in combination with consumer demand for even more advanced features, helped governments and manufacturers to  agree on one single connector standard: the USB-C connector. Although USB-C has definite benefits, it also has a risk—the increased possibility of tracking, which can lead to a fire. 

The advantages of one standard are many. The USB-C connector outperforms traditional cable performance and is convenient—you can flip the connector to both sides, making it much easier to use. Plus, one standard means less cables will be produced, ultimately reducing e-waste overall.

Reducing tracking risk

When we look at the technical details of the charging cable, the pitch sizes of USB-C connectors have shrunk to an incredible 0.18 mm while the applied voltage has increased to 20 Volt, impacting the driving current per pin—it has increased significantly, along with the risk of tracking too. 

The cause for tracking is often contamination; particles or tissues can contaminate connectors when the mobile device is placed in a clothing pocket or if the device is in an environment where moisture or sweat is present. Tracking can lead to a shortcut in the connector, resulting in overheating and eventually a fire.

Imagine this scenario: A consumer, who is a mother and wife, is charging her device—this could be a laptop, tablet or mobile phone—overnight. The device is placed on a wooden table, and it catches on fire while the entire family is sleeping in the neighboring room. The entire house can burn down. 

This scenario is a potential catastrophe and why many OEMs are actively specifying the material for the connector housing themselves—no one in the industry wants such an event to occur. OEMs are banning low CTI materials and asking all the Tier 1s and connector manufacturers to use high CTI polyamides, which increases the reliability inside the connectors by reducing the risk of tracking.

DSM’s Stanyl PA46 not only offers the highest CTI value of >600 Volt, but is the only material in the high-temperature polyamide world with a UL94-V0 specification down to 0.18 mm, precisely the pitch size used in these USB-C connectors. 

The material provides the lowest wear and friction, so that in challenging automotive environments, where it is specified for up to 20,000 mating cycles (plug in/plug out cycles), it can survive without degrading. It also provides the highest flow rate, which offers molders and connector manufacturers added value by increasing productivity and reducing manufacturing costs.

Not only is Stanly PA46 the best material for the receptible and device side, it is a great material also for the plug of the cable, so the total mated solution is high in reliability, and safety can be ensured by the OEMs.  

To learn more on this topic watch the USB-C connector video
To learn more about the characteristics of Stanyl PA46 or to request test samples, contact us or visit plasticsfinder.com for additional information, including technical data sheets.

Why wrong material choice in USB-C connectors impose an increased fire risk

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