Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer Insulated Wire and Cable

History of EPDM Wire and Cable

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber was developed in the early 1960s as chemical companies and chemists set out to produce unique synthetic elastomers. After its first initial discovery, the DuPont chemical company was the first to refine the rubber into the product that we know today. The EPDM compound is created by chemically cross-linking the elastomer. 

Properties of EPDM Wire and Cable

EPDM wire and cable products are nearly identical to the physical properties of natural rubber insulations and jacketing compounds, with the added property of providing weather resistance. EPDM compounds have much better resistance to heat, light and ozone as compared to unsaturated rubbers like natural rubber, SBR, PCP (Neoprene®) or Polychloroprene. As such, EPDM can be formulated to be resistant to temperatures as high as 150°C, and, properly formulated, can be used outside for decades without degradation.

EPDM insulation and jackets are compounded with fillers, such as carbon black and calcium carbonate, and with plasticizers, such as paraffinic oils. EPDM has useful rubbery properties only when crosslinked, which is typically performed via continuous vulcanization (CV) with sulfur, but is also accomplished with peroxides (for better heat resistance) or with phenolic resins. To produce high-quality EPDM wire and cable products, high-energy electron beam radiation (irradiated or e-beam) is used.

Top advantages of EPDM:

  • Great flexibility and durability
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Performs well in high-temperatures and in high-voltage applications
  • Good low-temperature properties, with elastic properties to temperatures as low as -40°C
  • UV-resistant

Common Applications of EPDM Wire and Cable

Typically, EPDM wire and cable is used for high-temperature applications (125°C to 150°C), such as industrial appliances. Another use of EPDM compounds is in the manufacturing of medium-voltage test leads. EPDM insulated products can be used as appliance wire and as lead wire for motors, ballasts, transformers, coils or solenoids, where high temperature and/or high voltage is required. Additionally, because of its UV-resistance, EPDM is increasingly used for both hook-up wire and electrical cables.

The one major problem with EPDM compounds is that they are extremely poor in applications where oil is present. EPDM is not suited for applications where hydrocarbons, such as kerosene, gasoline and hydrogenated solvents, are present.

Common Standards for EPDM Wire or Cable

  • UL 3284
  • UL 3374
  • CSA 1254 from sizes 18 AWG to 4/0

Common Types of EPDM Wire and Cable

  • EPDM Lead Wire, UL 3340, UL 3374, UL 3399 UL 3284 & UL 3340 (Anixter 5MF part numbers)
  • EPDM are common insulators for welding cables (Anixter 5J part numbers)
  • Appliance wire UL 3399

Contact an Anixter expert to discuss suitable applications.