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Key Role of Flame Retardants


Plastic components are a part of almost all of today’s electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). The characteristics of plastic (i.e. versatile, flexible, and easy to mold into complicated shapes and small sizes) make it the material of choice for EEE. But, this material also must meet important fire safety standards. Miniature components in high-powered computers, for example, generate a high concentration of heat sources that can lead to rapid overheating of internal components. Electrical and electronic products are also subject to fire risks from electrical short circuits that can cause ignition within a product, or external ignition sources such as candles close to heat-generating equipment. Without the use of flame retardants to help protect materials and components against fire, the potential for fire dangers increases as the number of electronic products—and the cables, wires and electronic chargers to power them—increases in households, offices and commercial buildings.

Incorporating flame retardants into the materials used in electrical and electronic components lets manufacturers meet fire safety standards, while also ensuring a product meets key technical requirements, including weight, durability, flexibility and performance specifications. Flame retardants provide specific and critical fire protection properties. They increase a product’s resistance to both internal and external heat sources that, potentially, could turn into sources of fires. They also provide EEE with fire resistance characteristics so that internal electrical and electronic components do not fuel a fire that has started outside of the equipment.

As new and more sophisticated material technologies emerge, and requirements for fire resistant materials evolve, the flame retardant industry must keep pace. Flame retardant manufacturers will continue to innovate and develop effective and sustainable flame retardants that meet new product demands for fire resistance, high performance and cost-effectiveness, and address environmental health and safety concerns.

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