Halogens, Non-Halogens, and Benefits of mPPE Insulation

Below illustrates how Halogen Free wires used to have a negative characterization, that was until mPPE was formulated, sometimes called “Space-Saver Wire”.


When needing halogen free, but with a space saving jacket, mPPE is preferred.


Halogen free materials have been given a bad rap in the past for their inefficiencies and poor electrical properties when compared to their halogenated counterparts. Insulations that contain halogens are seen as efficient, with strong dielectric properties. Their easy processing capabilities make these insulations a go-to, despite their environmental concerns. Up until now, it was believed that eliminating halogens sacrificed the insulation’s performance and capabilities, resulting in an inferior product. Unfortunately the environmental benefits did not carry enough weight to consider switching to this alternative. That is until now; mPPE insulation is able to offer the best of both worlds, and defy the misconceptions of halogen free insulations.

Recently, halogen free material has been called out on specs, especially in Europe. Comparing the first 4 criteria, non-halogens seem to make no sense. However, their value is significant in providing no smoke or acid free cables. Examples of halogens are: fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine. These elements are highly reactive and can be harmful to people and animals. A halogenated plastic can release hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride and other dangerous gases when burned. Aside from its toxicity to humans and animals, these gases are also highly corrosive to metal. “Low-smoke, zero halogen” cables have thwarted the concerns of using dangerous halogens, however they still exhibit their own environmental limitations. LSZH cannot be conveniently recycled and reused. Like PVC insulation, it will not safely decompose in a landfill.

mPPE, which stands for Modified Polyphenylene Ether, is a thermoplastic just like its PVC competition, and can be repeatedly heated and formed into any shape while hot. mPPE insulation was first used in the automotive industry, to provide an eco-friendly and performance enhancing alternative to PVC used in 60% of the vehicles. The reduced weight was also an important feature to improve fuel efficiency of their vehicles. This new material quickly garnered attention in the industry for its benefits and application uses beyond those in the automotive industry.

When used on hook-up wire and multi-conductor cable, mPPE results in a smaller and lighter wire or cable. This is possible because mPPE insulation has a superior dielectric strength, allowing a reduced wall thickness to be made possible while still maintaining the same electrical properties. mPPE insulation’s specific gravity of 1.03 is 25% to 50% lower than other insulation materials, such as PVC, FEP and XLPE. Not only does this help with the reduced wall thickness, the low specific gravity enables mPPE insulated wire and cable to be up to 65% lighter than standard PVC.

mPPE is also an extremely durable material which provides up to 10x the abrasion resistance of a standard PVC insulation. This is impressive considering the fact that the jacket thickness on mPPE wire and cable is actually considerably thinner than PVC. mPPE insulation can be shredded and reused without the need to add in any virgin material, making it 100% recyclable. This assists design engineers in achieving compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and RoHS directives for the elimination of hazardous substances and recyclability.

In today’s world of growing environmental concerns and increasing regulations, the common thermoplastic and fluorocarbon insulations mentioned also present serious environmental limitations that should be considered before selecting them for an application. While PVC insulation may be a cost saver in the industry, this compound pays a big price in its environmental disadvantages. PVC base resin, plasticizers, stabilizers and fillers, which are all commonly found in PVC insulation, have been linked to increased cancer risk.

mPPE insulation also offers protection in a wide range of temperatures, as low as -50°C to high as 105°C. The decreased component size helps to ensure that it can be used in tighter spaces. It can be modified for improved flexibility and even for use in flexing applications.

Design engineers need not be faced with the ultimatum of having to choose between space savings and reliability when using mPPE insulation in their equipment components. Its innovative design allows for the smaller diameters without sacrificing performance of the product. As seen with Alpha Wire’s introduction of EcoWire® Plus, mPPE insulation can be formulated to offer additional benefits such as superior fluid resistance. Such benefits prove beneficial when components are used in cleanroom environments. Another AlphaWire benefit is one that has not been touched upon yet, but provides significant advantages for use within semiconductor manufacturing equipment. mPPE insulation offers strong outgassing benefits; up to 91% lower outgassing than PVC, which is crucial for these applications. Devices such as portable x-ray machines and diagnostic equipment can all benefit significantly from the use of mPPE insulation. From wafer fabrication and processing equipment to semiconductor packaging equipment, mPPE insulated wire and cable can easily find its place.

mPPE insulation also provides significant benefits in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Because this is such a booming industry in regards to advancing technology, there is no room for downtime. There are several ways that mPPE can keep the user’s equipment running smoothly. As quickly as smartphones and tablets are being introduced, the need for smaller semiconductor chips and technologies grows even faster. Manufacturing equipment needs to increase in complexity in order to keep up with the technological advances. As the complexity increases it is necessary for the components within to shrink and allow room for advancement. It is also imperative that such components are reliable in order to minimize downtime, and it is clear that engineers are hesitant to swap components that could sacrifice performance when reliability is on the line. Similarly, tough cleanroom environment regulations make it difficult to find suitable replacements that adhere to the manufacturing guidelines. What semiconductor manufacturing equipment needs today is a regulatory approved product that can offer fluid and abrasion resistance. The good news is, this is an application where mPPE insulation excels once again.





space saver