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Thanks to its abrasion resistance and flame retardancy, BASF’s Elastollan® thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) strikes a superb balance between mechanics, usability, and flexibility.

After establishing a patent in 1993, BASF successfully commercialized its first grade of non-halogenated, flame-retardant TPU a year later. BASF is now approaching 30 years of TPU wire and cable expertise, marking a rich history of innovation and development.

Throughout it all, Oliver Muehren, Team Leader Sales, TPU Cable & Tube, Global Key Account Manager at BASF, said the main challenge was “keeping a balance between flame-retardant properties, and processability,” and BASF’s portfolio has expanded in parallel with its findings. Over the past three decades, it’s continued innovating, following the needs of the market.

Cable connector made of Elastollan thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

One such need is the growing demand for halogen-free flame-retardants and the regulations that follow. According to a 2023 report, the global flame-retardant chemicals market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.73% between 2021 and 2030, with the non-halogenated flame-retardant chemicals being the highest contributor to that growth.

Dr. Oliver Henze, R&D, TPU at BASF says with so many applications having multiple standards to pass, flexibility is vital and is what makes TPU unique. Where industrial cables have specific standards, consumer cable’s standards may differ. Yet, they also work in tandem with other requirements, like oil resistance and regional specifications.

“Our development is worth nothing without the core operation or proving this concept on a real-world part.”

Oliver Muehren

Team Leader Sales, TPU Cable & Tube, Global Key Account Manager at BASF

“You have the same flame-retardant system, but you might change the base of the polymer to have different ageing properties or change the hardness and suddenly the same flame-retardant system can be used for plugs,” says Henze. “That’s what we’re playing with here.”

While BASF puts every product through its paces in their full fire testing labs located in Lemförde and Ludwigshafen, Germany, a key part of the portfolio’s success comes with the collaborative nature of working with clients, and a feeling of co-creation. As Muehren says, “our development is worth nothing without the core operation or proving this concept on a real-world part.”

If you’re in need of a flame-retardant wire and cable solution, we’re here to help.