Mica and Electricity
Mica and electricity are a match made in heaven. A key property of mica is that while it conducts heat, it does not conduct electricity. This means mica has a very capable dielectric function, making it ideally suited for applications which require an effective heat conductor and electric insulator. Furthermore, because mica is both flexible and durable, we can manufacture and shape it to make it supremely adaptable across a spectrum of industries and products. These range from the power electronics sector to consumer appliances, and also include essential electrical insulation for essential components in both the aerospace and automotive industries.
Electricity, Thermal Energy and Mica
Electrical current and heat are intricately linked. A conductor will resist some of the energy flow when electrons pass through it (how much resistance depends on the quality of the conductor). The energy that does not flow through the conductor is converted instead into heat energy.
This thermal energy can be used to heat up a wire, so that it becomes a heating element. This is the principle behind the heat generated in a wide number of consumer appliances, such as hairdryers, toasters and heaters.
Obviously, these appliances, while creating heat, must also be safe to use, and be consistently capable and efficient in how they operate. They require, therefore, an insulator, but one which will not prevent heat being generated. This is where mica provides the perfect solution.
Because mica is an insulating material that does not conduct electricity, it provides advanced electrical insulation between electric circuit lines and is widely used as a material in wiring boards and as the basis for electronic components.
Mica in Power Electronics
Power electronics is a sector dedicated to converting power from one form to another. This involves the application of solid state electronics, such as transistors, circuit chips and diodes, for the control and processing of electric power.
In an age of accelerated technological and industrial development, the demands on this kind of functionality are huge and relentless. There is a fundamental requirement for closely integrated functions, combined with faster and faster performance.
Consequently, how electrical instruments perform is absolutely vital to businesses in this sector and how well they can grow, consolidate their position and continue to compete.
Mica is used in various components such as capacitors and resistors, because its superior dielectric strength will help guarantee the high performance of key electrical instruments. At the same time, its heat conductive properties mean it can offer an assured level of protection.
Mica provides resistance to temperatures up to 650°C, and can withstand powerful electric fields. This is of huge value in an industry where the risks of distorted waveforms and material deterioration are frequent.
Moreover, mica’s adaptability at processing and manufacturing stages means that when combined with other materials, such as glass fibre, it possesses significant mechanical strength and resilience, making it ideal when it comes to actual, physical applications.
In product form for the power electronics industry, mica comes in tubes and as manufactured components such as transistor parts, heating elements, washers and gaskets.
Mica, Electricity and Consumer Appliances
Mica’s close relationship to electricity is not restricted to industry and specialist manufacturing. It also touches on people’s everyday lives because of its widespread use as an insulator in consumer appliances and domestic electric products.
With these appliances becoming smarter and more responsive, they typically house sophisticated electronics, while at the same time they still require intense heat to be generated through enclosed heating elements.
Insulation, therefore, is vital to ensure the continued safety and high performance of these goods and appliances.
There is a huge market for hairdryers for home use in the UK. Models come at very different prices; from the cheaper end of the market, costing around £30 to £40, to more advanced hairdryers retailing at over £300.
However, the principle of how hairdryers produce heat is basically common to all. They do this by passing an electric current through a wire. This wire is usually manufactured from nichrome, an alloy of nickel and chromium. Unlike copper, it will not rust at high temperatures.
Some hair dryers can reach temperatures of 230°C, therefore safety must be a concern alongside performance. Due to its natural electrical insulation and heat conductive properties, mica provides the ideal solution as a heating element in hairdryers. Mica also provides the material for insulation heating boards in toasters and various models and types of domestic electric heaters, based on the same principles of insulation and thermal conductivity.
High Temperature Insulation for Microwaves
Whereas rigid mica in tube and sheet form supports various manufactured electrical products, and provides the material for critical components; sheet mica can also be used to support dielectric heating in microwave ovens.
A microwave oven heats up by subjecting its interior to a high frequency electromagnetic field. However, this also means that the appliance must have sufficient insulation to prevent energy loss, and ensure the oven is safe. Mica is thin, flexible and has the dielectric performance necessary to ensure the safe functioning of microwave ovens.
Mica and Safe, Efficient Electrical Applications
Mica and electricity are a natural match. Consequently, mica has proved invaluable in the manufacture of electrical components and electrical appliances. It is supremely adaptable, making ideally suited to the next wave of smart electrical appliances, and a major contributing element to the internet of things. If you’re starting out in the exciting new world of Industry 4.0, or if you’re already involved, our mica manufacturing capability can support your products.
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