Unique Performance in Dual Purpose
The demand for cost effective processes that can be used to manufacture high integrated and miniaturized parts for the E&E, automation, medical, aviation and traffic segments is a challenge for the material development sector. This is especially true if plastics or compounds with high electric and thermal conductivity and/or good electromagnetic shielding properties are needed to produce electric or electronic parts. Why? Conventional plastics and compounds often cannot fulfill these requirements.
PROPERTIES & PROCESSING
In a joint project, the Siemens AG, Erlangen and the IKV, Aachen has successfully developed a new materials group named SCHULATEC® TinCo, which fulfills these requirements. A. Schulman GmbH, Kerpen and HEK GmbH, Lubeck were also involved in the project. These new plastic/metal hybrids consist of about 15 w.-% thermoplastic material, 55 w.-% copper fiber and 30 w.-% of a low-melting alloy.
The specific electrical conductivity of this compound is up to > 80 dB in the frequency range between 30 kHz and 1.2 GHz (sample thickness = 1.5 mm). And the thermal conductivity is > 7 W/(mK). Nearly all commercially available thermoplastics and thermoplastic elastomers can be used as matrix materials. Thus the mechanical and thermal properties of the plastic/metal hybrids can be adapted to the appropriate application. Compound processing is conducted on standard inject molding machines in standard processes. But special processes such as 2K- or sandwich injection molding can also be easily applied. During processing the thermoplastic material and the low melting metal alloy are transferred to a molten liquid state. This ensures the following advantages:
- High flowability in the molten state
- Very low wear and tear of the tools
- The formation of a "soldered network" comprised of copper fibers that have cooled to an ambient temperature
- An extremely short cooling period due to the material's high thermal conductibility
There are many possible applications for the new Plastic/Metal Hybrids. The compounds offer promising opportunities - especially in the field of mechatronics and 3D-MID. And they make producing electric parts, like motor and gear controls, easier and more effective.
Being able to integrate manufacturing steps into an efficient injection molding process can save time and money while making completely new design options possible. This way conductor paths and contact points for connectors and/or cables can be injection molded simultaneously. It's a convenient way to replace traditional lead frame techniques. Interminable and cost intensive solder and joining procedures are eliminated.
Electromagnetic shielding houses and electrically conductive heat sinks are further applications. But, if necessary, parts can be assembled simply by direct soldering or hot force fitting the components.
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