HX5 Adds Electromagnetic Shielding to Growing List of Material Advantages

Oct. 28, 2020

Alpine Advanced Materials has completed Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) testing on HX5 and found the lightweight aviation grade thermoplastic nanocomposite to have exceptional attenuation when bare or plated with various thicknesses of nickel and copper. The highly engineered HX5 has already demonstrated its strength and performance for use in complex components, but the results of the EMI testing make it an even more attractive material for use in electronics.

EMI, which is caused by an electronic device sending radio frequency or electromagnetic waves to another device, can disrupt electronic devices, equipment, and systems used in critical medical, military, aerospace, mass transit, vehicular control, and navigation systems. Shielding blocks electromagnetic fields with barriers like HX5 that meet electromagnetic compatibility requirements to ensure reliable system performance.

“The results of our EMI testing were pleasantly surprising because thermoplastics usually have minimal attenuation,” said Roger Raley, president of Alpine Advanced Materials. “High attenuation means parts made with HX5 prevent varying radio and electronic frequencies from interfering with each other. We know how strong HX5 is, but these findings add to the body of evidence on its superior handling.”

Two independent labs tested both coated and bare HX5 to investigate the relationship between film thickness and attenuation for a range of frequencies from 10kHz to 40GHz. Testing specifications used included: IEEE 299-2006, MIL-STD-285.

“We found that HX5 can be plated for EMI shielding at a range of 12kHZ to 40GHz, and secured data for electrical surface and volume resistivity for bare and plated HX5, confirming both electroless plating for EMI shielding and shielding effectiveness,” added Marinela Peto, mechanical engineer for Alpine Advanced Materials. “In fact, test results showed comparable and even higher attenuation levels for bare HX5 versus plated samples for certain frequencies from 12GHz to 40GHz.”

With a high strength-to-weight ratio, thermal stability, environmental resistance, and manufacturing flexibility, HX5 can be injection molded, formed, extruded or machined like aluminum. It allows component manufacturers to make complex shapes with a specific strength (ratio of tensile strength divided by density) twice that of aluminum on a weight to weight basis.

Developed over more than a decade of testing and validation by the Department of Defense with an R&D investment in excess of $50 million, HX5 was engineered to replace machined aerospace-grade aluminum at half the weight. Earlier this year, it was shown in third-party testing to retain up to 96% of its original mechanical performance when subjected to 5 million rads of gamma radiation. It has also demonstrated extreme corrosion resistance to solvents, fuels, lubricants, and chemicals, giving it the ability to withstand the most demanding applications. Already certified for use from rockets and satellites to amphibious transport vehicles, HX5 is an ideal alternative to aluminum at half the weight and multiple times the manufacturability.