Technical Ceramics

IPS ceramic component improves product for safety critical applications

Posted by Liam Morgan on December 5, 2017

IPS Ceramics has recently collaborated with Abtech (Sheffield, England) – the leading supplier of electrical connection products to industrial markets – on improvements to a specialist range of fire rated enclosures.

Technical ceramics are often preferred for use as terminal blocks because of their superior heat resistance properties, including direct heat situations. Abtech’s fire-rated enclosures are designed for use on safety-critical circuits or those carrying emergency power supplies. They will maintain insulation integrity for 120 minutes during direct exposure to fire. This ensures that electrical devices such as fire suppression systems, smoke extractors, alarms and emergency lighting remain operational during a fire.

IPS has designed both 8-way and 12-way ceramic blocks specifically for Abtech’s GRP and stainless-steel enclosures; their configuration provides a much neater solution than individual rail mounted terminals often used in this type of product. Additionally, the blocks are supplied complete with nickel-plated stainless steel connectors and screws, so provide a no-hassle, ready-to-fit component.

“Once again, an IPS technical ceramic material has been proven in service, in a critical application,” said IPS sales manager Alan Keenan. “Individual ceramic terminals have to be mounted on a metal rail with a ceramic end plate and stop clamps. These are not required with multi-way blocks, which attach directly to the enclosure, making assembly much easier and quicker.”

“It has been great to work with Abtech, a recognised leader in the field, and we have now developed a glazed version of the blocks in accordance with their stringent material requirements. Ceramics can withstand much higher internal temperatures than poly or KRG terminals and, indeed, have to survive a fire test to >842°C (>1548°F) to enable the enclosures to conform to BS EN 50200.”

Abtech’s SX stainless steel enclosure range is a widely accepted product in the rail industry, a sector that the company has been supplying for over 25 years, with products designed for both trackside and tunnel applications. Key projects range from the Channel Tunnel (supplying junction boxes and lighting actuators) through to the ongoing supply of enclosures and local control stations across London Underground and Crossrail infrastructure projects.

Whether in emergency lighting, fire suppression, smoke extraction or fire alarm systems, it is paramount to offer increased fire survivability for safety critical electronic circuits and IPS technical ceramics are playing their part.

In addition to the rail industry, Abtech supplies junction boxes, medium and high voltage enclosures, local controls, lighting systems, cable glands and connection accessories to the process, marine, renewable energy, and oil and gas industries. Abtech also operates as an OEM, supplying a wide variety of enclosures to a multitude of major manufacturers.

“The Abtech project is just one example of what we’re doing every day, not just in the UK but all around the world,” added IPS sales director Phil Green. “We offer in-house design and also have a rapid prototyping facility and our portfolio of technical ceramic solutions include options in alumina, silicon carbide, aluminium nitride, zirconia, steatite, and glass-ceramics. We continue to enhance our service and technical ceramic supply and will have further announcements in the coming months on this front.”