Meritxell Puigdemund, Area Manager at Delta Tecnic
Zero polluting emissions. That is the goal of the automotive industry, and to do so, this sector is accelerating a series of changes and transitions. One of them is the electric car, which is gaining more and more market share as the necessary infrastructures grow together with the support of the institutions. The other is the autonomous car, a technological advance that we make use of the hand of very important brands.
These transformations reflect the dramatic growth in sales and forecasts for electric cars. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), by 2024, around 12% of new cars sold worldwide will be fully electric; by 2040, that figure will be more than 50%. The prediction is that the electric car will dominate sales by 2050. The data therefore confirms that manufacturers are going electric and that production processes need to keep pace.
In this context, car manufacturers need to bet on new materials that increase the quality of their products and help optimize their operational processes. Therefore, obtaining a cable to match is essential to gain precision, isolation, and homogeneity of color. Existing technical materials can propel the automotive industry to a new level.
Satisfying the technical needs of automotive cables requires perfect dispersion and excellent dilution, with low dosage levels, high production speed and high processability, obtaining better First Time Quality. Optimizing all these factors has a direct and positive impact on final costs, which is very attractive to rapidly evolving companies in the automotive industry.
Wire colour has many important functions
Colours are an essential part of the cable industry. First, their colour coding allows each cable to be identified so that its circuits can be easily distinguished when building the hardness, making repairs, or diagnosing problems. Since the colour must be identifiable for the lifetime of the vehicle, it is critical that there is colour durability in the cable.
Then there is the challenge for colour masterbatches: to dilute and fully incorporate the colour, unifying the polymer base with the individually separated pigment crystals at the right melting point. This is carried out under very demanding production conditions, such as reduced extruder lengths, increased speed or the increased light weightness required by the market—this is where new materials come into the picture. In addition, the colour concentrates must be compatible with the compounds used, have perfect dispersion, and offer fast dilution to avoid sparks or other quality problems.
Colour intensity is also a key factor. The simplest, but not the most cost-effective way to manage colour deficiency is to increase the dosage. For the best cost-effectiveness, it is important to work with highly concentrated colour masterbatches with the appropriate pigments to achieve the right colour strength at the lowest possible dosage, aided by fast dilution.
New formulations in an advancing world
Thermal resistance, abrasion and aging are some of the challenges cable colouring faces. There is a need for more technical materials to insulate automotive wiring through new composite formulations. This is something that is gaining relevance for the electric car market, and especially for the autonomous car market, which requires high-strength materials with extreme precision.
Fluoropolymers, as thermoplastics and elastomers, are used widely in automotive applications, due to their combination of high resistance to fuels, lubricants, and elevated temperatures. Fluoropolymers can operate at ambient temperatures from -40 °C to 200 °C, with excellent resilience and UV transmission, providing high resistance to energy radiation. Also, they are light weight; two key factors for electric car requirements.
Silicones are also compounds that are currently in growing demand, useful in various types of automotive cables, such as batteries or lighting, and high-demand wiring. Silicones allow for working with constant dielectric and dielectric properties of dimensional stability from -80 °C to 250 °C. In addition, they resist vibration and fire, produce low smoke emissions, and emit non-corrosive and non-toxic combustion gases.
The combination of high-performance, high-strength materials and colour masterbatches is an ideal approach to meet the demand for new materials or formulations with higher performance.
At Delta Tecnic, we are specialised in offering high quality colour concentrates for the automotive industry, with excellent dispersion and dilution properties and special attention paid to the reduction of sparks, colour regularity, pellet size and shape; all of this for the improvement of the production of vehicle wiring harnesses.