Two new non-lead stabilized grades of Fireguard (R) plenum compounds provide performance well within the range of lead-stabilized Fireguard products while enabling cable manufacturers to save cost on a yield-per-pound basis, it was announced at IWCS / Focus by Teknor Apex (Booth 404). The new compounds are expected to be used for jacketing in data, telecommunications, and coaxial cable, including the coax sector of local-area networks (LANs), according to industry manager Mike Patel.

The new ‘non-lead’* Fireguard compounds, designated 910-L16-C13-NL and 910-L16-C6-NL1, have Shore C hardness ratings of 91/86 and 88/81 (instantaneous / 10 sec.), respectively. Their specific gravities are 1 to 2% lower than those of counterpart lead-stabilized Fireguard compounds.

‘While the difference in specific gravity looks small, the greater product yield per pound of compound translates into significant raw material cost savings,’ Patel said. ‘A small-size cable manufacturer could save on the order of US$ 10,000 per year.’

Plenum applications are subject to the industry’s most stringent standards for low-flame / low-smoke performance. Fireguard compounds are vinyl-based products that provide cost and performance alternatives to fluoropolymers in plenum cable. The ‘non-lead’ formulations in the Fireguard family provide mechanical, electrical, and flame and smoke properties comparable to those of lead-stabilized Fireguard formulations and, like them, are readily processed in standard equipment used for PVC, according to Patel.

New Compounds Address Need for Lead-Elimination and Demand for Security Networks

‘While other compound suppliers have also introduced lead stabilizer-free products, the scope of lead-replacement is greatest at Teknor Apex,’ Patel said. ‘We have developed the technology to replace lead-stabilized compounds without compromising performance, and we are fully capable
of formulating new-generation grades for any application specified by a customer.’

Recent European, Asian, and U.S. mandates to eliminate lead have posed a challenge to the wire and cable industry because lead stabilizers have been the most efficient and cost-effective additives for rendering the PVC polymer in vinyl resistant to thermal degradation. Causes of degradation include the heat and shear of processing and the exposure to heat in such end-use situations as plenum areas near heating ducts. ‘While suppliers of stabilizers have developed new additives with performance equivalent to that of lead, incorporating them into vinyl compounds is never a matter of simple drop-in replacement,’ said Patel. ‘Teknor Apex has developed new Fireguard formulations that duplicate our lead-stabilized products not just in heat stability but in processability, mechanical and electrical performance, and cost.’

Demand for such products has also increased as a result of the current strong emphasis on increasing security in commercial and institutional buildings by installing coax-networked television monitoring systems, Patel added. ‘Since these networks typically run through plenums, the cable must have flame and smoke performance on the level provided by our Fireguard products.’

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