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LANXESS' thermoplastic compounds used in new EV charging inlets
Source:Adsale Plastics Network    Editor:JK    Date:14.Jul.2021

The boom in electric vehicles is causing a sharp rise in demand for plastics destined for charging infrastructure. LANXESS believes that this area offers opportunities to use its Durethan polyamides and Pocan polyesters.

 

The possibilities gained by these thermoplastic compounds are demonstrated in a new design concept from LANXESS for charging inlets. These are installed in battery electric vehicles and accommodate the charging coupler of the external charging station.

 

“Our approach is aimed at using a modular configuration to get the right material in the right place to meet the complex requirements applicable to the various components with the utmost precision,” said Gregor Jaschkewitz, application developer at the High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit at LANXESS. “At the same time, a high level of functional integration is intended to make it as easy as possible to assemble the entire unit.”


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General view of the charging inlet. It is designed to enable charging of the vehicle battery with both direct and alternating current.


The design is the product of collaborative discussions with manufacturers of charging systems and incorporates the experience that LANXESS has already accumulated in different charging infrastructure development projects.

 

O-rings, sealing cords or family seals can be used, for example, as can be employed lip seals manufactured in a two-component injection molding process.

 

Integrated thermal management

 

The key elements of this charging inlet design are the front and rear housings, a socket for the connector from the charging station and an actuator. The latter locks the connector in place to prevent it from being accidentally or deliberately pulled out during the charging process.


The pin holder is another essential element. It holds the metallic connector pins in place, as well as a printed circuit board (PCB) with cables for charging with direct or alternating current, among others. Particular attention was paid to the design of the pin holder. It positions the cables such that the heat produced during charging is dissipated not only through them but also via the other cables not in use.

 

Once the cables and contact pins have been placed in the holder and the PCB has been clipped in, all the charging inlet components are put together with the aid of snap fits. The cables are fastened in place under minimum strain so that they cannot become detached in the housing.

 

High material requirements fulfilled

 

Plastics for charging inlets are required to comply with the IEC 62196-1 standard and deliver high electrical insulation resistance as well as high dielectric strength and tracking resistance. Good fire-retardant properties are also essential.


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The concept provides for a modular design of the charging inlet. Once the cables and contact pins have been placed in the holder and the PCB has been clipped in, all the charging inlet components are put together with the aid of snap fits.


Parts that come into direct contact with live components must pass a glow-wire end product test (GWEPT) in accordance with IEC 60695-2-11 at a glow-wire ignition temperature of 850°C. After being stored at 80°C for seven days, the plastic parts must not exhibit any surface changes – such as cracks – caused by aging.

 

High-grade mechanical properties (e.g. good toughness) are also required to ensure that the charging inlet is not susceptible to bumps or vandalism.

 

“Our material solutions include compounds that are ideally suited to this range of requirements. In some cases, versions developed specifically for electric vehicles are also available,” stated Sarah Luers, application developer at HPM at LANXESS. “This includes, for example, highly weather- and UV-resistant products for housings as well as materials exhibiting low shrinkage and warpage for components that need to be particularly dimensionally stable.”

 

According to the company, thermally conductive polyamide 6 compounds with good mechanical properties are intended for use in the pin holder, which is subject to heavy thermal loads. This also includes product types that pass the UL 94 flammability test prescribed by the US Underwriters Laboratories Inc. testing institute with a V-0 rating.

 

Support in component design

 

Also, LANXESS assists charging system manufacturers with an extensive range of services through its HiAnt service brand. On behalf of its project partners, for example, it calculates and simulates how component geometry and material will affect the generation of heat in the component.

 

Other services include performing important flammability testing in compliance with standards and conducting mechanical testing such as ball drop tests.

 

In addition, LANXESS is currently considering applying the new design to further assemblies of the charging infrastructure – such as the charging plug. The design and materials expertise built up during work on the vehicle charging inlets can be deployed to a large extent here because the requirements are very similar.

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