Cars, trucks, and other vehicles are expensive to produce. That’s why automotive manufacturers do everything possible to avoid potential issues during the assembly process.

One of those potential problems occurs when silicone molecules land on unpainted metal surfaces, which can later cause “fisheyes” or craters in car paint after it’s applied.

What Makes Silicone Special?

Silicone is a man-made polymer featuring a silicon-oxygen chain. This makes it more resilient than other compounds relying on the weaker carbon-carbon chain found in many plastics.

It’s chemical resistant, heat resistant, holds up well across a wide range of temperatures and is very durable. Silicone materials are also inert, making them a great (and safe) choice for everything from rubbers, plastics, and gels to lubricants, caulks, adhesives, cookware, and electrical insulation.

Why Do Manufacturers Use Silicone in Electrical Wire?

  • Highly heat resistant (can withstand temperatures as high as 450° F)
  • Chemical resistant (can withstand contact with sulfuric acid and gear oil)
  • Hydrophobic (repels water)
  • UV resistant (can be used in outdoor environments)
  • Flame resistant (doesn’t catch fire easily or conduct heat)
  • Can make electrical wiring “slippery,” making it easier to pull through conduits and reducing the need for wire-pulling lubricants.

How Does Silicone Damage Automotive Paint?

Electrical wire installed in or near a painting booth is highly unlikely to cause any damage to auto paint, but loose silicone molecules that leech out from wire insulation or are sprayed onto wires to make them easier to pull could potentially cause problems.

It’s because silicone is a low-molecular-weight compound. When the transparent molecules become airborne, they can land on surfaces like auto metal and prevent paint from sticking to the metal underneath. The solution is tough to see on surfaces with a naked eye, so silicone is sometimes unintentionally missed during pre-painting inspections. The result is a “fisheye” or cratering effect that causes a lower-quality automotive paint job.

As a result, silicone polymers and products often receive a bad reputation within auto part manufacturers and assembly plants.

Does Kris-Tech Wire Contain Silicone?

Yes, but the amount is minuscule. Kris-Tech’s XLPE copper wire contains less than .1% of the compound, and blooming tests have determined that it would not reach the surface of the wire and become airborne. This wire is most likely safe to install in an automotive paint facility and unlikely to cause “fisheyes” or craters in automotive paint.

This may not be the case with all electrical wires. If silicone has been impregnated into the insulation to make it easier to pull, it could pose an issue for automotive plants that rely on maintaining clean environments.

The same can be said for silicone-based lubricants that get sprayed onto electrical cabling. Loose particles can easily find their way to metal surfaces, resulting in the possibility of paint damage occurring.

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