HDP User Group Announces Completion of Analysis of Halogen Free Cables Project

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The High Density Packaging Users Group (HDP) headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ announces the completion of its latest project, “An Analysis of Halogen Free Cables”.

The High Density Packaging Users Group (HDP) headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ announces the completion of its latest project, “An Analysis of Halogen Free Cables”.

Some studies have alleged that certain halogens have a negative impact on human health and the environment. As a precautionary principle, many electronic manufacturers have publically adopted a position to phase out the use of halogens, such as Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), to potentially minimize the impact on the environment.

HDP User Group created a project to investigate alternatives to commonly used halogen cable products. This project was led by representatives from Dell Computer Corporation, and had participation from four different compound suppliers, four cable manufacturers and several additional OEM’s.

The Analysis of Halogen Free Cables project attempted to capture most cable applications in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry, and after lengthy discussion, members of the project team narrowed the number of cables to 5 categories:

  •     Ribbon Cable: Representing internal cables in ICT equipment
  •     HDMI Cable: Representing external (non-power) cables in ICT equipment
  •     MiniSAS: Representing high speed data cables in ICT equipment
  •     Desktop Power Cord (EU): Representing an EU compliant power cord
  •     Notebook Power Cord (US): Representing a US compliant cord set

Cables of each type were made and tested to electrical requirements, mechanical requirements, and physical requirements.

The project is the culmination of nearly 3 years of work. “No direct drop-in replacement for PVC in electronic cables was found, but several materials were identified that with further development and specification changes could lead to halogen free cables” stated Jack Fisher, the HDP Facilitator on the project. HDP is working with the members of the current project and others that have heard of this activity to identify the next project effort.

The activity has shown that technical challenges not only vary by product type but also by material chemistry. Compounders utilize various ingredients which present unique technical challenges that need to be understood prior to selecting any of these materials to meet any specific wire and cable requirements including regulatory mandates.

The results indicate encouraging progress to develop alternative compounds to PVC. While the data in this report suggests that halogen free materials / cable solutions do not currently meet all of the specification requirements for these different cable types, this may be due to the threshold values having been historically established based upon PVC / TPE material-based cable designs. Many of these specification values may or may not be appropriate for halogen free materials, simply due to their nature or inherent performance characteristics. It may be beneficial to the industry if many of these specification values / Standards are reviewed and revised, if appropriate by the OEM’s or third party Listing agencies (such as Underwriters Laboratories) to account for the nature of halogen free materials. This project has helped to identify many of these parameters.

This effort not only highlighted the importance of working together between cable manufacturers and compounders to ensure optimum process parameters are utilized, but also on the research effort invested by companies to develop commercially viable halogen free technology. This research is ongoing and many compounders have already improved their formulations from the findings of this project. Costs remain a factor but could decline with improved formulations and volume demands.

HDP User Group encourages a continuation of the progress being made and will likely propose a follow-on ‘Phase II’ of this project. Members believe halogen free materials need further study and understanding to fully appreciate their properties and unique processing conditions. Not all halogen free materials are based on the same chemistry and therefore they are not equal in performance and their processing needs vary accordingly. The objectives of a follow-on activity would be similar to this project and the next generation of compounds should yield improvements in mechanical and electrical properties as well as processing parameters and costs. Subsequent projects will learn from previous data and leverage this information to propose standards revisions to the cable specifications, while retaining essential safety requirements.

A final presentation was made to the HDP membership at its meeting in October 2011 in Valencia, Spain, and a final report will be available to the industry 1Q, 2012.

About HDP User Group
HDP User Group (http://www.hdpug.org) is a global research and development organization based in Scottsdale AZ, dedicated to “reducing the costs and risks for the Electronics Manufacturing industry when using advanced electronic packaging and assembly”. This international industry led group organizes and conducts R&D programs to address the technical issues facing the industry, including design, printed circuit board manufacturing, electronics assembly, and environmental compliance. HDP User Group maintains additional offices in Austin, Texas; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tokyo, Japan.

For more information, visit HDP User Group on the Internet at http://www.hdpug.org

or contact Darryl Reiner at darrylr(at)hdpug(dot)org, phone number +1 480-951-1963.

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MARSHALL ANDREWS
HDP USER GROUP INTERNATIONAL
(512) 258-0332
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