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Kirt Blattenberger,
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Insulation & Jacketing Materials Properties

Insulation for wires and cables is designed for specific environments ranging from relatively docile surroundings as in a laboratory, metrology, or indoor AC electric supplies, to very harsh environments where extreme temperatures are present, abusive physical conditions wear on the insulation, or wide ranges of flexure and/or vibration are applied continually. Of course, preventing the conductors inside the insulation from making physical contact is the primary concern. Without a protective insulation covering, the service life can be severely reduced, creating not just system failure, but the potential for fire or electrocution. If the insulation cannot handle the voltage levels being supported by the conductors, then short circuits will occur and/or exposure to electrocution hazards might be present. Even regions of partial weakness in the insulation can cause problems like cross-talk between wires and a particularly difficult problem to troubleshoot - intermittent shorts.

This table of insulation & jacketing materials properties will help get you started when researching your needs. Once you have a good idea of what you are looking for, please take a look at the Coaxial, Ribbon, Twisted Pair, & Braided Single & Multiconductor Cable & Wire Assemblies page for suppliers.

Property ASTM
Method
Tefzel ETFE1 Natural Rubber Hypalon2 Neoprene Silicone Polyurethane PVC3 Polyethylene Polypropylene TFE4 FEP5 Kynar PVDF6 TPE7
Abrasion
Resistance
- Good Excellent Good Excellent Fair Excellent Good Good Fair Fair Good Good Good
Heat
Resistance
- Excellent Fair Excellent Good Excellent Good Good Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Weatherability - Good Fair Excellent Good Excellent Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Excellent
Flame
Retardancy
- Excellent Poor Good Good Good Good Excellent Poor Poor Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Water
Resistance
- Excellent Good Good Excellent Excellent Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Good Good
Acid
Resistance
- Excellent Fair Excellent Good Good Fair Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Alkali
Resistance
- Excellent Fair Excellent Good Good Fair Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Aliphatic
Hydro.
Resistance
- Excellent Poor Fair Good Poor Good Good Poor Fair Excellent Excellent Excellent Poor
Aromatic
Hydro.
Resistance
- Excellent Poor Fair Fair Poor Poor Poor Poor Fair Excellent Excellent Excellent Poor
Specific
Gravity
D-792-66 1.70-1.86 1.3-1.7 1.35-1.7 1.23-1.65 1.1-1.6 1.3 1.16-1.70 0.91-1.26 0.890-0.905 2.13-2.20 2.12-2.17 1.75-1.78 1.16-1.20
Tensile
Strength
(psi)
D-638-77 6500 1500-4000 1200-2200 1200-2700 1000 >3500 1500-4500 1500-2200 2900-4500 1000-3500 2700-3100 5200-7500 2300
Elongation
(%)
D-412-75 200 300-700 300-600 300-700 100-500 540-750 40-400 180-1\600 700 275 250-330 500 500
Volume
Resistivity
(ohm-cm)
D-257-78 >1016 1013-1016 1012-1014 1011-1013 ~1014 ~1015 104-1016 >1015 ~1015 >1018 2x1018 2x1014 2.2x1018
Dielectric
Strength
(V/mil)
D-149-75 500 - 500 600 100-700 330-630 250-500 230-1420 450-850 500 500-600 260 625
Dielectric
Constant
@1 kHz
D-150-78 2.6 2.3-3.0 9.0-11.0 5.0-7.0 3.0-3.5 5.6-7.6 3.0-8.0 2.27-2.50 2.50-2.65 2.0-2.1 2.1 7.9 2.8
Power Factor
(Dissipation)
@ 1 kHz
D-150-78 0.0006 0.00023-0.00030 0.05-0.07 3.5 0.001-0.010 0.043-0.060 0.009-0.16 0.00048-0/00049 0.0036-0.0050 0.0001 0.0007 0.019 0.002

1: Ethylene TetrafluoroEthylene by DuPont.
2: Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene  by DuPont.
3: Polyvinyl Chloride.
4: Tetrafluorethylene is the original Teflon resin invented by DuPont in 1938.
5: Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene is a ""Teflon"" fluorocarbon resin and is a registered T.M. of the DuPont Company.
6: Polyvinylidene Fluoride.
7: Thermoplastic Elastomer.  Data obtained from Alpha Wire Company printed catalog table

Here is a great resource from the Anixter for insulation definitions