Chemically Foamable Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) - The beneficial technical and economic aspects of foamed FEP insulation for plenum cable applications
This white paper has been prepared in a Power Point format based on the new 2012 IWCS Commercial Applications for Materials & Processes Presentation guidelines. The Power Point slides which follow focus on one of the largest wire and cable market segments within North America that is commonly referred to as the local area network (LAN) cabling market. In fact, these twisted pair copper premise cables have become the ubiquitous building wire for high speed data communications in all facets of the American economy. Today's offices from Wall Street to the Pentagon, as well as the data centers of social media and online retailing, are cabled with a network of LAN cables. The need for fast, reliable, and safe, i.e., fire retardant, networking of data cables has steadily grown from burgeoning needs for more and more financial data, video conferencing, security and alarm and factory automation to name only a few major Information Age applications. An estimated 5 billion feet of LAN cable will be installed in 2012 in North America. An estimated 70% of the LAN cables are manufactured with materials that must meet the stringent 300,000 BTU horizontal flame and smoke requirement of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 262 Plenum Test. From a technical perspective, the focus of this presentation will be on these plenum cable requirements, as well as the evermore increasing demand for electrical performance that supports the need for larger bandwidth and data transmission rates at mega bits per second. From an electrical performance viewpoint, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) develops and defines the electrical performance requirements of category cables from least stringent to most stringent and are ranked as follows: Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6e, and Cat 6A. From a specification viewpoint, Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) document, 'UL 444', defines the physical characteristics of LAN cable so that these cables can be marked 'CM', or in the case of Plenum Cables, marked 'CMP'. Technically, an insulation material must, when put into a cable, meet or exceed the stringent low smoke and fire retardancy requirements and be designated 'CMP' with the appropriate aforementioned electrical performance to meet Category: 5e, 6, 6e or 6A. In summary, the technical criteria for CMP LAN cables can be classified as follows: 1) Low Smoke and Flame Spread characteristics as defined by NFPA 262; 2) Electrical Performance that embodies a low dielectric constant and dissipation factor based on the TIA category requirement, i.e., Cat 5e, 6, 6e, or 6A; 3) Physical properties, e.g., Tensile, elongation and the other physical criteria as specified by UL 444; and 4) Material processing speeds at 1800 feet per minute or greater while insulating characteristics that meet UL 444 spark testing. This paper specifically looks at the CMP insulation materials used within today's plenum LAN cable market based on these technical parameters and provides a comparative economic assessment on a per 1,000 foot basis. For Category 5e, 6, 6e and 6A, the insulation of choice for LAN plenum cable, which up until the last two years was dominated by Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP), and to a significantly lesser extent Polytetrafluoroethylene-Perfluoromethylvinylether (MFA). Both materials having superb electrical and physical properties; and most importantly, from a safety viewpoint, the low smoke and flame retardancy properties are unmatched by any material in the NFPA 262 flame and smoke test. Its headroom provides repeatable margins of fire safety. Unfortunately, a unique chain of events in 2011 created FEP and Fluoropolymer shortages and the ultimate allocations of materials. For most of 2011, these tumultuous shortages gave rise to the substitution of one or multiple pair of non-fluoropolymer materials. These substitutes could not provide the balance of properties resulting in repeatable and robust smoke and flame margins, as well as electrical performance, in all phases of cable testing. This paper attempts to define the market of today and compares the so-called Hybrid designs of 3×1, 2×2, 0×4 and co-extruded CMP products against key technical parameters. Clearly, NFPA 262 flame and smoke testing, relative to passing consistency, has been compromised. Secondarily, the non-fluoropolymer Hybrids' electrical and physical material/cable performance characteristics are at best, minimally compliant. From a networking fire and safety risk perspective, the additional BTUs per foot or the heat release per each 1,000 ft. of Hybrid cables increases by 170 billion BTUs annually. These insulations and cables, as well as the non-compliant offshore cables, which have been entering the North American market, add an additional fire risk based on mislabeling and material substitution. Fortunately, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA) have taken extensive steps to even the playing field which requires a more robust technical approach to plenum cables material standards. The following presentation provides both a technical argument and an economic comparison for Category cable, vis-a-vis all of the Hybrid alternatives, which compromise the balance of properties of Plenum cable materials. Foamed FEP or MFA has a balance of properties to include physical, electrical and most importantly, flame and smoke properties that when installed, lower the footprint of combustible materials and have repeatable plenum cable results based on its very low smoke and flame spread characteristics.......
【作者名称】: Charles A. Glew
【关 键 词】: Chemically Foamable Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) - The beneficial technical and economic aspects of foamed FEP insulation for plenum cable applications
【会议名称】: Proceedings of the International Wire & Cable Symposium (IWCS~TM), Inc.
【会议地点】: Providence, RI(US)
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