Developed over eight years, ElectriPlast is a non-corrosive, electrically and thermally conductive, resin-based material. It replaces the metallic component currently used in electromagnetic interference (“EMI”) shielding and conductive devices.
Doug Bathauer, CEO of Integral Technologies, told Automotive Industries that ElectriPlast is expanding its electric vehicle application design capability through its Detroit Tech Center, which was opened in January 2014 to increase the company’s research and engineering capabilities and technical support.
A recent success is that it supplied lightweight high-voltage electric connectors for the Fisker-Karma, the first luxury electric sedan of its kind. The product is manufactured in pellet form by extruding a plastic resin containing metal fibers rather than mixing the resin with fibers (as is done with other conductive plastics). ElectriPlast applications, include EMI shielding, connectors, wire, batteries, lighting circuitry, cable, power electronics, car antennas and mobile devices.
ElectriPlast, designed to replace metal parts, according to Bathauer. “It can be nearly as conductive as metal, but offers the benefits of plastic – it is lightweight, low cost and gives designers new freedom. ElectriPlast’s unlimited flexibility allows it to be used in almost every part of a hybrid car that requires EMI shielding: the battery casing, high voltage electric box casing and wire shielding. A smaller component wall size optimizes space utilization. A 30% savings from the miniaturization of parts assists manufacturers facing packaging restraints in EVs,” he says.
There are also weight savings. Using ElectriPlast over aluminum reduces overall component weight by 40% to 60%. When used across the E/E systems for power electronics components, connectors and wiring system, the resin saves 20-30lbs from the total vehicle weight. According to Frost & Sullivan, just a 10% reduction in vehicle weight offers fuel savings of 5-7% mpg and increases the miles per charge of an EV’s battery.
Named by MBD Capital as a Best & Brightest Company and winner of Temple University’s 2013 Disruptive Innovation Award, ElectriPlast is quickly finding its way into the electric automotive industry as manufacturers reduce weight and costs. OEMs can expect to save 10 – 20% at the component level alone with ElectriPlast.
Leading the ElectriPlast team is Chief Technology Officer Mo Zeidan and Vice President of Engineering Slobodan Pavlovic. Zeidan, who previously served as the CTO for the Electrical Division for Lear Corporation, holds 11 U.S. patents and has consulted for numerous automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Pavlovic is one of the leading inventors in the automotive engineering community with over 100 awarded and pending patents. His inventions have set standards in the airbag connectors industry, high power terminals industry, high power packaging industry, and he is currently using his inventiveness to expand ElectriPlast’s applications portfolio and further enhance material performance.
“Zeidan and Pavlovic also implemented conductive plastic into the high voltage connection system on Chrysler’s Durango and Aspen hybrid vehicles. This marks a significant innovation in the electric and hybrid automotive industry – never before have conductive plastics been used with high voltage applications. The reduced cost of ElectriPlast is also attractive to hybrid and electric automotive companies. Compared to the traditional aluminum die cast manufacturing, ElectriPlast offers a substantial reduction in capital investment, which decreases the overall assembly cost of an EV,” says Bathauer.
The resin provides more benefits through its manufacturing speed (20 x faster than conventional metal fabrication processes) and its ability to be fully recycled. In the words of Pavlovic, “Small incremental and design changes are not enough – the biggest changes in the automotive industry are made with the introduction of a new material.”