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Exploring the Realm of Electrically Conductive Plastics

August 14, 2023

Conductive plastics are an innovative class of materials that combine the desirable properties of traditional plastics with the ability to conduct electricity. These materials have opened up exciting possibilities for numerous industries. At SJS Products, a Jamcor corporation, we are here to provide you with a comprehensive overview of their manufacturing process, capabilities, and limitations.

I. Manufacturing Process

Conductive plastics are typically produced through a compounding process that involves blending conductive fillers or additives with base plastic resins. The most common conductive fillers used are carbon-based materials like carbon black, carbon fibers, or carbon nanotubes. Other conductive additives such as metallic particles or conductive polymers may also be employed, depending on the specific application requirements. The compounding process can be achieved using various techniques such as twin-screw extrusion, injection molding, or compression molding. During this stage, uniform dispersion of the conductive fillers is critical to ensuring consistent electrical conductivity throughout the plastic matrix.

Here's a step-by-step explanation of the process:

Step 1: Selection of Base Plastic Resin:

The process begins with the selection of a suitable base plastic resin. Commonly used plastic resins include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and others. The choice of resin depends on the specific requirements of the application, such as mechanical properties, temperature resistance, and chemical compatibility.

Step 2: Selection of Conductive Fillers or Additives:

Next, the manufacturer selects appropriate conductive fillers or additives to incorporate into the plastic. The most commonly used conductive fillers are carbon-based materials, such as carbon black, carbon fibers, or carbon nanotubes. These carbon-based materials provide electrical conductivity to the plastic when dispersed properly throughout the matrix. Other conductive additives, like metallic particles (e.g., silver, copper) or conductive polymers, may also be used depending on the desired level of conductivity and application requirements.

Step 3: Preprocessing of Conductive Additives:

In some cases, the conductive additives need to be preprocessed before compounding. For example, carbon black may undergo a surface treatment to enhance its dispersion in the plastic matrix. This step ensures uniform electrical conductivity throughout the final product.

Step 4: Compounding:

The compounding process involves mixing the base plastic resin with the selected conductive additives to form a homogenous blend. This step is crucial to achieving consistent electrical conductivity in the final conductive plastic material. Various compounding techniques can be used, including:

Step 5: Forming the Final Product:

Once the conductive plastic material is compounded, it can be further processed using various techniques like injection molding, compression molding, or 3D printing to create the final product.

Step 6: Quality Control:

Throughout the manufacturing process, quality control measures are essential to ensure the desired level of electrical conductivity and overall performance of the conductive plastic. Testing methods such as resistivity measurements and visual inspections are carried out to verify the material's electrical properties and uniformity.

II. Capabilities:

Electrical Conductivity:

Conductive plastics offer a range of electrical conductivity levels, allowing engineers to tailor the material to meet specific needs. This property makes them suitable for applications where static dissipation, EMI/RFI shielding, or electrical grounding is required.


Conductive plastics are generally lighter than traditional metal-based conductors, making them ideal for applications where weight reduction is essential, such as in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Design Flexibility:

Engineers can achieve complex shapes and intricate designs using conductive plastics through injection molding and other advanced manufacturing techniques. This flexibility allows for the integration of electrical components directly into plastic parts.

Corrosion Resistance:

Unlike metals, conductive plastics exhibit excellent resistance to corrosion and chemical degradation, making them suitable for harsh environments.


Carbon filled conductive plastics can offer cost advantages over traditional metal-based conductors. While the initial material cost may be higher than standard non-conductive plastics, the potential savings from reduced weight, simplified designs, and lower assembly costs can make them a cost-effective choice for specific applications.


Lower Conductivity Compared to Metals:

Conductive plastics may not achieve the same level of electrical conductivity as metals like copper or aluminum. This limitation restricts their use in applications requiring extremely high levels of conductivity.

Temperature Sensitivity:

Some conductive fillers in plastics may experience changes in electrical conductivity with temperature variations. Engineers must consider this aspect while designing for specific operating conditions.

Mechanical Strength:

In certain cases, the addition of conductive fillers can reduce the mechanical strength and impact resistance of the plastic. Careful consideration is required to balance conductivity and mechanical properties.

IV. Grades:

Carbon Black Filled Conductive Plastics:

Carbon black is one of the most widely used conductive fillers in plastics. It provides a range of electrical conductivity levels and can be incorporated into various base plastic resins to create conductive materials suitable for static dissipation and EMI/RFI shielding applications.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Conductive Plastics:

Carbon fibers offer higher electrical conductivity compared to carbon black. These plastics find applications in industries where both electrical conductivity and mechanical strength are essential, such as in lightweight structural components for aerospace and automotive applications.

Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Filled Conductive Plastics:

Carbon nanotubes are known for their exceptional electrical conductivity and mechanical properties. Conductive plastics incorporating CNTs are used in high-performance applications like sensors, actuators, and advanced electronics.

Metal Particle Filled Conductive Plastics:

These plastics contain finely dispersed metallic particles, such as silver or copper. They offer higher electrical conductivity than carbon-based fillers and are often used in applications requiring superior electrical performance, such as connectors and electronic housings.

Conductive Polymer Blends:

Conductive polymer blends combine traditional plastic resins with conductive polymers, which have intrinsic electrical conductivity. These blends provide unique combinations of electrical properties and can be tailored to specific application needs.

Conductive Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE):

Conductive TPEs are a class of conductive plastics that offer both electrical conductivity and elastomeric properties. They find applications in flexible electronic components, wearable devices, and EMI/RFI gaskets.

Inherently Conductive Polymers (ICPs):

ICPs are conductive plastics that possess inherent electrical conductivity without the need for additional fillers or additives. These unique materials are used in sensitive electronic components, antistatic coatings, and touch-sensitive surfaces.

Conductive ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):

Conductive ABS combines the versatile properties of ABS with conductive additives. It is commonly used in electronics, automotive, and consumer goods.

Conductive Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP):

Conductive versions of polyethylene and polypropylene are employed in applications where electrical conductivity, chemical resistance, and low cost are essential.

V. Industry Examples:

Electronics and Electrical Industry:

Electrically conductive plastics are extensively used in the electronics and electrical industry for components that require both electrical conductivity and the lightweight properties of plastics. Examples include:

ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) Protection Devices

Electrically conductive plastics are extensively used in the electronics and electrical industry for components that require both electrical conductivity and the lightweight properties of plastics. Examples include:

Automotive Industry:

In automotive applications, conductive plastics play a vital role in enhancing vehicle performance, safety, and energy efficiency. Examples include:

Medical Industry

In the medical field, electrically conductive plastics can be found in various applications, including:

Consumer Electronics:

Electrically conductive plastics are increasingly used in consumer electronics, such as smartphones and wearables, to improve functionality and design.

VI. Costs:

The cost of conductive plastics depends on various factors, including the type and concentration of conductive fillers, the base plastic resin, manufacturing complexity, and volume of production. Conductive plastics generally tend to be more expensive than standard non-conductive plastics due to the cost of conductive additives and the specialized compounding process. However, they can be cost-effective when compared to traditional metal-based conductors for specific applications, considering the weight savings and design flexibility they offer.

In conclusion, conductive plastics represent a significant advancement in materials science, providing engineers with a unique set of properties that blend electrical conductivity with the benefits of traditional plastics. As a manufacturing company, we are committed to working with you to explore the potential applications and opportunities that conductive plastics can offer across various industries. Should you have any further inquiries or projects in mind, please feel free to reach out to our team of experts at SJS Products, a Jamcor Corporation.

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