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  • Bayer Makes Flame-retardant Polycarbonate for LEDs
Sep 2010
PITTSBURGH, Sept. 20, 2010 — Bayer MaterialScience LLC has developed a flame-retardant polycarbonate plastic that enables LED and other electronics manufacturers to slim down lenses and covers.

Makrolon FR7067 polycarbonate plastic meets the UL-94 V0 rating at 1.5 mm, with light transmission of nearly 90 percent. By comparison, most traditional flame-retardant polycarbonates meet this key flammability rating at a thicker 3.0 mm.

“When it comes to LED lenses and covers, thinner is better,” said Gerald DiBattista, market segment leader (IT) of Bayer’s electrical/electronics polycarbonates. “Thicker lenses or covers translate into an unnecessarily heavier and bulkier part. This additional thickness is also undesirable because more light will be lost as it is transmitted through the lens or cover, making the component less efficient.”

Thinner lenses and covers require less material, creating a cost advantage for molders and OEMs and leading to quicker adoption of the technology, DiBattista said.

“Another added benefit is that, when a lens meets the required UL flame ratings, the OEM can avoid costly power supply isolation or a separate UL test on the final component,” DiBattista said.

This material breakthrough comes at a time when, according to Strategies Unlimited, the high-brightness LED market is forecast to grow more than 30 percent, reaching $20.2 billion by 2014 and presenting a tremendous opportunity for lighting manufacturers.

The new polycarbonate plastic “provides OEMs a transparent, UV-stabilized material that not only meets key industry guidelines and regulations, but does so with a thinner profile and environmental benefits,” DiBattista said.

Besides a glasslike appearance, impact strength and ease of moldability, the polycarbonate meets Underwriters Laboratory guidelines (UL 8750) for non-class 2 and direct-connected LED lighting, according to DiBattista.

Environmental benefits include easy recyclability, reprocessing and reusability. LED technology is, in itself, a more ecofriendly lighting alternative. LEDs offer a significant energy savings, whether the application is computers, mobile phones, interior/exterior automotive lighting, architectural lighting, or as simple as replacing the traditional incandescent lightbulb. For instance, an LED lightbulb can save as much as 80 percent in energy compared with a traditional 100-W incandescent lightbulb, according to a federal Congressional Research Service analysis.

Makrolon FR7067 polycarbonate is available in North America and Asia and will be available in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Africa at a later date.

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