Dr Dharmesh Chotalia, Associate director, Evonik India

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The company is active in more than 100 countries around the world with an employee strength of more than 32,000. It generated sales of Euro 13.1 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of Euro 2.15 billion in 2019. Dr Dharmesh Chotalia, associate director – business development, Granules & Compounds, High Performance Polymers, Evonik India talks about company’s products and focus areas…

Evonik has been active in India for four decades via predecessor companies. Today, in addition to the head office in Mumbai, Evonik has three production sites, two research and development centres, and eight application technology labs in and around Mumbai.

Our high performance polymers cater to various industries like automotive, aerospace, wire and cables, and sports. Materials from Evonik are used for protecting cables as sheathing or protection tubing. Continuous improvements have made these materials a popular choice for the electronics and cable industry.

High performance polymers for the cable industry

Evonik Industries manufactures a range of polyamide, polybutylene terephthalate and polyetheretherketone extrusion grades for cable and wire coating, jacketing, fibre optical jacketing, loose tubes, and cable protection tubing and profiles. Our portfolio of products include VESTAMID L polyamide 12 (PA 12) for cable and wire coating/jacketing and cable protection tubes, VESTAMID E polyamide 12 elastomer (PEBA) for highly flexible cable coating/jacketing, VESTAMID Terra DS biobasedpolyamide 1010 (PA 1010) for cable and wire coating, VESTODUR polybutyleneterephthalate for fibre optical jacketing and loose tubes, and VESTAKEEP PEEK polyetheretherketone for cable and wire coating in high-end applications.

Protecting optical fibre

A fibre optic cable offers many advantages. It can support a much wider range of applications than any conventional copper cable. Fibre optic cables are light-weight and small yet extremely rugged. The dielectric nature of optical fibres makes them immune to electromagnetic interference. The optical fibre in a cable must be protected against any mechanical stresses caused by manufacturing and the various ambient conditions encountered during the life of the cable. This protection is achieved in a combined way by the individual protection of the fibre and by the protection provided by the cable construction.

Material requirements

Materials that are used for secondary fibre optic jacketing must have easy processability with high melt strength; low thermal expansion coefficient; high flexural modulus with good kink resistance; stress cracking resistance against filling compounds and solvents such as alcohols and ketones, used in splicing operations; low moisture absorption; good hydrolysis resistance; high compressive strength; and flame retardant (optional).

Of the various polymers considered appropriate for secondary fibre optic jacketing, only a few materials will meet these requirements. VESTAMID and VESTODUR compounds have consistent product quality, offering easy processability with trouble-free continuous production. These engineering thermoplastics have outstanding properties for chemical resistance, dimensional stability and hydrolysis resistance.

Ant, termite and rodent resistant cable jacketing

Telephone operators in some countries in the southern hemisphere such as in Australia, India, Brazil and Thailand have specified PA 12 compounds as a protective cladding for underground cables. In addition to their particularly high weathering resistance, rigid VESTAMID compounds have a high degree of ant and termite resistance.

The outstanding toughness also protects telecom cables against attacks by rodents. While standard polyethylene jacketing is destroyed by rats within two days, rodents stop gnawing cables protected with polyamide 12 grades VESTAMID L1970 or L2170 orange. The same happens with ant and termite attacks. Not only do termites gnaw the cable sheathing, they also secrete an aggressive formic acid, which can corrupt the cable sheathing. PA 12 compounds have excellent resistance to formic acid, they do not swell and prevent gnawing attacks.

Copper wire insulation

VESTAMID and VESTODUR are not only used to protect optical fibres, these engineering thermoplastics are also processed into copper wire insulation. For these purposes, VESTAMID grades are distinguished by their exceptional high mechanical strength, outstanding chemical resistance, low sliding friction coefficient, exceptional abrasion resistance and excellent weathering resistance. VESTODUR X9426, VESTAMID L1670, VESTAMID X7166 and VESTAMID LX9057 are some of the suitable grades for copper wire insulation.

For continuous operating temperatures up to 260 °Celsius, we deliver two PEEK grades for copper wire insulation: VESTAKEEP 2000 G, which allows a high line speed, and VESTAKEEP 3300 G. The copper wire insulation with VESTAKEEP offers the highest possible chemical resistance, high resistance to electromagnetic radiation, outstanding long-term temperature performance, and self-extinguishing with high LOI (limiting oxygen index) and low smoke densities.