Plastics in Electrical & Electronic Equipment: High Growth Sectors

Plastics are in increasing demand within Electrical and electronic equipment

Plastics technology within electronic and electrical industriesElectrical and electronic equipment now powers almost every aspect of our lives. We use these electrical devices for just about everything and yet we rarely think about how they are put together. Yes, everyone knows that everything from the hairdryer to the microwave uses electronic circuit boards but did you know that plastic now makes up an important part of these devices.  Just think. Washing machines, microwave ovens, coffee makers, juicers, refrigerators, these are all devices we couldn’t live without – and devices that cannot be assembled without plastic insulation, housing, plastic fasteners and even plastic components. Plastic plays a crucial role in the development of most electronic devices.

We use televisions, music systems, computers, telephones and more. Plastic is what makes this progress possible, and it is the plastic components, the plastic insulating components, plastic fasteners and plastic design elements that make these electrical goods safer, lighter, more attractive and even more environmentally friendly. In truth, the growth in all plastic industries supplying the electrical and electronic industry is expanding and will continue to grow over the next 25 years.

The Basics of Plastic Use in Electrical and Electronic Industries

Plastics generally fall into two basic categories within this industry. Thermoplastics like polyethylene, a popular material within this industry as it can be melted down and re-molded repeatedly. The second category is in thermosets. This is often where urea formaldehyde is used. It is a plastic based material that cannot be remelted or re-molded but is known for its improved durability. This type of plastic composite is appropriate for components such as screws and insulating material that is exposed to heat.

Plastics in Electronics

When it comes to electronics, plastic plays an important role. It is used in everything from the housing to the plastic screws, plastic washers and special fasteners. All components that prevent electrical conductivity in certain areas of the electronic or electrical device. In fact, we can say that the personal computer, the laptop, the TV set owes much of its design freedom to the versatility of plastic components.

The Plastic Hygiene Factor

Every product, whatever it is, needs connectors. The growth of the plastic washer, plastic screw, bolt, and fastener industry in general, has seen an unprecedented increase in the last 20 years because of one very important factor. It can be easily cleaned. Plastics and plastic composites are now used in products where electric conductivity, hygiene and ease of use all play important roles. It is in the making of plastics to make knobs, handles, facings, electric and electronic liners, plastic fasteners and internal fittings for kitchen products, appliances and health-related items that increase the hygiene and safety of all our modern-day products.

When it comes to the use of plastics in electronics and in electrical production, safety is a key requirement, therefore plastic components such as plastic screws and washers are often the most popular choice as these do not rust and can be cleaned more easily. 

Where else do we use plastic innovation, plastic components, and plastic fasteners?

Plastics In Electric Tools

Plastics can be made fire and impact resistant, which is why many manufacturers prefer them in tool production such as in drills, paint strippers, lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners and hedge-trimmers as well as in other types of tools.

Plastics in Office Equipment

Plastic is smart, attractive and hard wearing which makes it essential in components, keypads, housings for electronics, telephones, photocopiers and computers.

Plastic is Invaluable

There are so many ways plastic improves manufacturing and amazingly, many of us don’t even realize it. These are just a few of the benefits of plastic components when used in electrical and electronic equipment:

Electrical Insulation:  Electricity is essential to many different products. It improves our standard of living and is versatile – but it can also be potentially lethal. Because plastics do not conduct electricity they can be used in a variety of applications including in the joining of one component to another. Which is why there is a real drive to innovate design, strength, size and type of plastic screws, washers and bolts that can be used appropriately within the industry. Currently, PVC is used widely to insulate electric wiring, and thermosets that withstand higher temperatures are used for switches, light fittings, screws and handles. Plastics are also used for housings in computers, appliances, cosmetic products (hair dryers, electric razors). This is an ideal solution to protect consumers from the risk of electric shock.

Heat Insulation: Plastics are also poor conductors of heat and so are ideal in the use of electronics as manufacturers can specifically direct heat where needed when they use plastic insulation. This has lead to the cool-touch computer, toaster, fryer and kettle. Furthermore, other products can also be made fire resistant through the use of plastics.

Lightweight: If you observe older appliances, you will note how much heavier they are. Newer products are substantially lighter through the use of plastics. And because they are lighter they also use less electricity to run.

Freedom of Design: The manufacturing industry also prefers plastic because whatever the design, plastics can deliver. The use of plastic can make for any aesthetic design, style or type and is ideally suited to ergodynamic curves which make for energy efficiency and safer use.

Durability: Plastics offer more durability, especially now that we use composite materials. They are also hygienic, easily cleaned and maintained. They do not corrode or rot and they are oil and acid resistant. 

Energy-Efficient: Plastics consume only about 3 to 4 percent of oil. They require less energy and less fossil fuel to make. They are cheaper to produce and better for the environment.

Recyclable: When these plastic products reach their end of life, many of the components can be recycled thus saving energy and raw materials.

Despite Benefits, Plastics Used Conservatively

 Yes. We can say the use of plastic in the electronic and electrical industries has brought about innovative change, yet despite people believing that plastic makes up the production of most electronic and electrical products, the truth is that plastic only makes up about 17 percent of all electronic and electrical manufacturing. This is due to the fact that plastic is the most visible material of the product. Housings, fasteners, and insulating are the only products made of plastic. Plastics only comprise about 17 percent of the weight or about one-fifth of the materials found in end-of-life electronics.

What’s In Store for The Future?

Plastic component and plastic fastener suppliers are searching for innovative ways to supplement metal parts for plastic ones, thereby bringing to the market electrical and electronic products that are lighter yet just as durable as their predecessors. The challenge is to make fasteners and plastic components stronger by making them from composite materials. And with the science and technology now available this can be done by producing plastic composite parts and fasteners that are stronger and more hygienic than metal ones.