Specialty Polymers for Electronic Components
Solvay remains the industry leader in the development and production of specialty materials for today’s electronic components. With cutting-edge aromatic thermoplastics, fluorinated polymers and sulfone polymers, our broad portfolio provides OEMs with a premium selection of high performance solutions for hard disk drives (HDD), fiber optics, component housings, sensors, printed circuit boards (PCB) and flexible printed circuits (FPC), wire and cable and many other essential electronic components. Our range of specialty polymers equips these applications with a wide variety of beneficial properties to enable unprecedented advancements and drive industry innovation.
Miniaturization and multifunction continue as megatrends for the electronics industry, and Solvay offers an unmatched, broad portfolio of high-performance specialty polymers to help our customers overcome the increasingly complex design challenges and develop next-generation electronic components.
Aromatic Materials for Electronic Structural Components
Electronic component housings and electric structural components are integral to the quality, reliability and function of their end-use applications. As the electronic devices market demands continue to trend toward lightweighting and miniaturization, materials such as aromatic polymers serve as optimal solutions for metal replacement, enabling comparable or improved performance with increased design flexibility, affordability and superior mechanical properties. Due to their unique combination of mechanical properties, creep resistance, thermal stability and tensile modulus, these high performance thermoplastics contribute to critical applications such as housings, structural frames of sensors, camera and speaker modules, switches, connectors, microphone membranes and other components in some of today’s most advanced electronics.
High-quality aromatic materials, such as Solvay’s Ryton® PPS, Amodel® PPA and KetaSpire® are specially designed with a range of optimal characteristics for structural applications in modern electronic components. Specifically, Ryton® PPS impart connectors, sockets and sensor components with exceptionally high modulus and thermal stability to facilitate long-term reliability and performance. Amodel® PPA, a range of aromatic polyamides demonstrates outstanding strength and mechanical properties in extremely high temperatures, making it an optimal material choice for SMT-processed controller housings, connectors and switches. Additionally, KetaSpire® PEEK is a durable, chemically resistant polyetheretherketone specifically formulated for structural applications, and serves as an excellent metal replacement solution in structural micro molding applications such as speaker or microphone membranes.
Innovative Technologies for Sensors
With the push from market innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and wearable devices, 5G and high speed communications and other smart electronics, design trends for sensors continue to shift. These innovations demand an abundance of sensor advancements such as sensor function fusion and integration, increased sensitivity, a reduced power consumption, continued miniaturization and overall system cost reduction. This selection of unique improvements requires an equally versatile portfolio of specialty materials to deliver such well-rounded proficiency.
Solvay’s collection of specialty materials includes fluorinated lubricants (PFPE), electro active polymers (EAP) and thermoplastic films, strategically designed to facilitate next-generation sensors. The sensor mechanism, or the membrane that does the sensing, must meet miniaturization demands as well as perform under harsh thermal and electrochemical conditions. Due to their impressive film uniformity, excellent wear resistance and unmatched thermal resistance, Solvay’s Fomblin® PFPE and Ajedium™ Films serve as the choice materials for functional coatings and films to protect the sensing element. Additionally, Solvene® EAP, a family of ferroelectric polymers offers a unique combination of piezo-electric abilities, mechanical properties and easy processing, which makes it ideal for printed sensors, actuators and energy harvesting devices.
Dielectric Material Solutions for PCB/FPC
Printed circuit boards (PCB) and flexible printed circuits (FPC) in today’s electronic components face the challenges of high frequency, high-speed communication where radio frequency signals can easily decay, especially for high moisture absorption materials like PI or Epoxy. Accordingly, PCB and FPC components require low dielectric loss materials as dielectric loss is the most contributive factor to signal loss. These high performance, insulating solutions must be capable of insulating but not interfering with high frequency, high speed electrical signals in applications such as communication PCBs and FPCs.
Solvay’s portfolio of high-quality solutions for PCBs and FPCs consists of MFA, PFA and PTFE, and LCP, respectively. Hyflon® MFA, PFA offers tremendous dielectric properties, combined with chemical and heat resistance and exceptionally low moisture absorption, ideal for modern PCBs. Also for PCBs, Algoflon® PTFE demonstrates best-in-class dielectric and thermal performance, coupled with excellent chemical resistance and wide temperature tolerance. For FPC and PCB components, Xydar® LCP is a high-quality liquid crystal polymer specifically developed to reduce dielectric loss, as its low moisture absorption makes it an optimal candidate for high frequency communication applications. This resin offers outstanding flow properties, impressive strength at extreme temperatures, inherent flame retardance, unrivaled chemical resistance and superb transparency to microwave radiation.
Choice Materials For Hard Disk Drives
Specialty lubricants play a critical role in mitigating friction and wear within hard disk drives (HDD), preventing solid-to-solid contact. The evolution of innovative lubricants continues to drive the HDD industry forward as OEMs strive to achieve higher storage densities. In response to requirements such as physical spacing or clearance, head/disk interface reliability, touch down power, mobility and contamination pickup in an array of HDD applications, Solvay’s high-performance lubricants provide an array of beneficial properties to achieve such advancements. Specifically, Fomblin® PFPE and Galden® PFPE offer flexible chain, excellent chemical and thermal stability, low vapor pressure, low surface tension and good surface affinity.
The market demands for HDDs also include increased drive speed, improved drive life and reliability, ionic control and outgassing control for reduced corrosion. Accordingly, sulfone polymers have become a choice material for a range of structural HDD components, as they offer a low ionic content, low outgassing and reliable performance. Solvay’s Veradel® PESU and Udel® PSU provide modern HDDs with low ionic and low outgassing properties, excellent corrosion resistance and reliable tensile and mechanical durability.
Solutions for Next-Generation Fiber Optic Connectors
Next-generation components such as optical fiber connectors and housings and optical transceiver modules play critical roles to the performance and durability of end-use fiber optic applications. Sulfone polymers are well-suited for these fiber-optic electronic components, as they consistently demand tight tolerance, flame resistance, aging resistance, colorable properties and low relaxation.
Specifically, Solvay’s Veradel® PESU delivers on all of these fronts and more, offering low shrinkage, high dimensional stability, inherent flame resistance, low moisture absorption and a high oxygen index. Additionally, Solvay’s Veradel® PESU, Radel® PPSU, Ryton® PPS are particularly well-suited for optical transceiver modules, due to their outstanding toughness, excellent mechanical properties and their optical performance for light transmission.
Versatile Materials for Electrical Wire and Cable Components
Next-generation consumer electronics consist of a wide variety of wire and cable components, and these applications require extremely reliable, dielectric materials that display exceptional mechanical property retention over extended periods. Wire and cable applications such as protective coatings, piping materials, and insulation necessitate the combination of safety and performance, especially as electronic components continue with miniaturization and lightweighting, demanding more in smaller and smaller space. Thermoplastic fluoropolymers are innately equipped with this unique combination of properties, and are optimal material choices for wire and cable applications such as plenum-rated LAN cables, coaxial cables, military cables and other elements in consumer electronics.
Solvay’s high performance fluoropolymer solutions for wire and cable components provide a wide range of robust properties, as they are specifically designed for product quality and consistency. Specifically, Solef® PVDF demonstrates outstanding fire resistance and electrochemical stability at high temperatures, as well as good dielectric properties. Accordingly, this fluoropolymer is an excellent candidate for protective coatings and piping materials where safety is a critical concern. Additionally, Hyflon® PFA and MFA® are fully-fluorinated polymers with superior dielectric properties compared to other comparable materials, and upholds its tremendous mechanical performance in a range of extreme environments, such as the high temperatures and harsh chemicals often encountered in wire and cable applications.