Can 5G Maintain its Speed without Plastics?

5G is a fifth generation mobile technology designed for increased speed and reduced latency, providing a peak speed of upto 20 Gbps. Table below provides comparison between the current 4G and the 5G technology:

What came before 5G in a nutshell:

  • 1G: About voice transfer, providing ability to communicate even from cars
  • 2G: Introduced short messaging ability in the phone, a feature which is even seen in today’s phones
  • 3G: Provided network speed
  • 4G: Provided tremendous data transfer rates
  • 5G: Will provide ability to move huge amounts of data with significantly faster speeds than ever before

Some of the experiences that could be enhanced by 5G technology are:

Development of 5G technology, would histrionically increase the demand for products such as:

  • Base stations
  • Antenna units
  • Optical Distribution Networks (ODN)
  • Mobile Phones, Computers and Laptops
  • Radio Frequency Filter, etc.

For making most of the above applications requirements, plastic product developers are introducing new grades of plastics which are listed below. One of the primary conditions is that the plastic material should generally have dielectric constants in the range of 2.20 and 4.90 and the values of loss tangents in between 0.0005 and 0.021.

Grades of plastics introduced by some of the major companies for enhancing the experience in 5G are:


  • Polybutylene terephthalate grades:
    • Balanced values of dielectric constant/dissipation factor
    • Excellent performance to be used as antenna
    • Exceptional signal transmission providing higher speed and lower latency.
  • Hytrel thermoplastic polyester elastomer:
    • Suited for optical distribution networks (ODN)
  • Zytel RS HTN, a polyamide:
    • Offers excellent mechanical properties and reliability in ODN applications


  • Polycarbonates:
    • Mechanically robust, lightweight, and transparent to radio frequencies.
    • Certain grades demonstrates improved weather resistance or thermal conductivity.
  • Makrofol SR multilayer film (polycarbonate / poly methyl methacrylate):
    • Provides design freedom for mobile phone brands to create fashionable mobile phones using decoration technologies such as UV patterning and non-conductive vacuum metallization.
    • More than 50 percent of the mobile phone market in China is currently switching to this polymeric material and is claimed as an important material for 5G mobiles development.


  • Fully-fluorinated polymer grades namely Hyflon® PFA, Hyflon® MFA, Polymist® and Algoflon® L PTFE:
    • Offers awesome dielectric, high-temperature (300-316℃) resistance, chemical resistance and moisture resistance properties
  • Solef® polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF):
    • Suitable material for wire and cable applications in modern 5G platforms
    • Possess high electrochemical stability
    • Exhibits exceptional permeation resistance
  • Liquid crystalline polymer grade Xydar® LCP:
    • Designed to reduce dielectric loss
    • Has lower moisture absorption
    • Very good material for 5G antenna substrates and housings
  • Polyphenylene Sulfide:sold as Ryton® PPS:
    • Has enhanced dielectric performance and dimensional stability
    • Material suitable for 5G telecommunication for high frequency applications


  • P-SHIELD®:
    • EMI shielding and grounding material
    • Solution for electronic device market; wherein they offer a wide range of options depending on the shielding and grounding needs


  • Edgetek Formulations (based on Polyphenylene ether):
    • Possess dielectric constant ranging in between 3.0 and 9.0
    • Reduced dissipation factors
    • Supporting in quicker design qualifications and reduced lead times
    • Compatible with surface mount technology
    • Allows greater design flexibility and improved speed to market for 3D circuit boards, and base station antenna


  • LNPTM copolymers:
    • Has good outdoor weatherability
    • Stable dielectric constant/ dissipation factor properties
    • Excellent UV resistance
    • Suitable for antenna and phase shifter applications
  • ULTEM resins:
    • Allows for making complex and miniaturized RF filter designs; which would also have reduced weight.
    • They can also be used on fiber optic components and optoelectronics

Thus, it can be seen that many well-known polymer manufacturers are ready with several plastic grades suitable for various 5G applications; and is quite interesting.

However, some of the points to be discussed further could be:

  • Can commodity polymer be modified to make them suitable for the above applications; which would not only be novel but also cost effective?
  • Are there any Indian manufacturers producing polymer grades suitable for above applications?
  • Do the above mentioned generic polymers need further modifications?
  • What can be done to further reduce their prices?

Dear Readers, do go through the above literature and let me know your viewpoints in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

I put up a new post whenever I come across an interesting topic, so follow my blog and stay updated about the developments in the polymer industry.


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  19. Devi, Y. Usha, M. S. S. Rukmini, and B. T. P. Madhav. “Liquid crystal polymer based flexible and conformal 5G antenna for vehicular communication.” Materials Research Express 6.1 (2018): 016306.
  20. Ali, Muhammad, et al. “Package-Integrated, Wideband Power Dividing Networks and Antenna Arrays for 28-GHz 5G New Radio Bands.” IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology 10.9 (2020): 1515-1523.
  21. Sharma, Abha, et al. “Recent advancements and technological challenges in flexible electronics: mm wave wearable array for 5G networks.” AIP Conference Proceedings. Vol. 2294. No. 1. AIP Publishing LLC, 2020.
  22. Ruan, Kunpeng, et al. “Interfacial thermal resistance in thermally conductive polymer composites: a review.” Composites Communications (2020): 100518.
  23. Ji, Yao, et al. “Progress of Liquid Crystal Polyester (LCP) for 5G Application.” Advanced Industrial and Engineering Polymer Research (2020).

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