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In industries with constant product evolution, today’s electrical engineers and designers face a unique challenge – material selection. Rigid composites, as defined by NEMA, have been an industry staple in electrical insulation applications for years.

Materials such as GPO3, G10, FR4, and G11 are especially effective choices in both high and low-voltage applications. However, as weight, form factor, and volume manufacturing increasingly become critical factors, these traditional materials may be Ill-suited to some applications for the following reasons:

Profile – Materials with thicknesses less than 0.010” are susceptible to performance variability. Dielectric and mechanical strength are critical properties with inconsistent results at thinner profiles.

Weight – Some traditional composite materials require more material to achieve optimal performance. This increased material thickness also increases weight and can be disadvantageous, particularly in e-mobility applications.

Manufacturing – In high-volume manufacturing, composite materials with thicknesses 0.010” or greater often cannot be converted using traditional flexible and elastomeric manufacturing techniques, such as die-cutting or thermoforming. These parts require machining, which leads to higher set-up and run times.

Composites may be superior in some respects, but thermoplastic films can offer an attractive alternative solution with a degree of relief in thickness, weight, and cost. However, thermoplastic material is not equivalent and not without drawbacks. Any economical thermoplastic option has the potential to melt in high-temperature environments, which is especially problematic in enclosed applications such as battery storage.

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