Cables have been used by the automotive industry for many years, first for conducting power from batteries to ignition systems, lights and wipers, and later for electrical windows, roofs and rear-view mirrors. Today, cables conducting power and signals for on-board systems are essential to make safe, comfortable and smart cars. As wires become more sophisticated, HCR rubber compounds and silicone elastomers are increasingly being used as key raw materials to ensure performance and reliability.
With a solid reputation and long-standing track record in silicone raw materials, Elkem Silicones was approached by a major automotive cable supplier to help integrate its production of silicone-based cables inhouse to replace externally sourced cables. Elkem Silicones sales and technical people created a multidisciplinary project team to deliver the right product and train customer personnel in silicone chemistry and processing, quality control and process design.
Upon reception of the customer’s cable performance requirements, the team examined various options for silicone formulations in line with customer requirements and proposed a ready-to-use product. At the same time, as the process line was being designed and installed, the Elkem Silicones team provided advice to the equipment maker. After a first laboratory evaluation of the proposed Silicone RTU material, an industrial trial was launched to test the product in process at the equipment maker’s pilot plant, but final performance did not meet all relevant criteria.
With deadlines fast approaching, new formulations were designed with the help of Mix&Fix Centers™, the Elkem Silicones compounding network, which reformulated and delivered a new product in time for the new trials. The new formulation was successfully tested again and met or surpassed customer processing requirements and mechanical strength properties. The final step was to produce the material on the new industrial production line.
The customer and Elkem Silicones teams met and conducted initial production runs, which confirmed that the mutually-designed silicone formulation worked immediately according to process parameters. The customer quality control department qualified the ready-to-use HCR formulation and submitted it for successful external testing and certification.
The customer was very satisfied with the product and especially appreciated the close relationship and collaboration they’d had with the dedicated Elkem Silicones team and its commitment to develop a tailor-made solution for its automotive cables.
Besides automotive applications, Bluesil® HCR Silicone Elastomers and other silicone products are used for safety cables in public buildings and in public transport. In all these industries, Elkem Silicones teams are available to work closely with customers to define and respond to their needs.