The consumer electronics market is a changing market. Products such as smartphones, smart watches, tablets and laptops have grown rapidly. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are racing to keep up with consumer demand: faster operating speeds, more features, and longer battery life.
For covers, housings and frames of such products, original equipment manufacturers are looking for materials with strong aesthetics and design freedom, good impact resistance and high stiffness, low weight, and thin-walled structures. In addition, cost-effective, high-volume processing methods are needed to meet the global production needs of tens of millions of units per year.
A feasibility study conducted by SABIC (Berchen Opzom, The Netherlands) involved the use of two thermoplastic composites to produce a laptop / tablet case with a thickness of 1 mm. Studies have shown that hybrid thermoplastic composite design may be a viable solution for the challenging consumer electronics market.
Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany; Shanghai, China), a Maezio brand of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites, launched in October 2018, has also sparked interest in the electronics industry. The product line includes unidirectional (UD) reinforced carbon fiber tapes and sheets made of carbon fiber impregnated in a polycarbonate (PC) matrix. According to Covestro, CFRTP can be tuned for performance, aesthetics, and economies of scale, and can be used in products in many industries. Maezio can be thermoformed with higher productivity and shorter cycle times and is said to reduce the cost of millions of parts per year. Other production technologies can also be integrated, such as overmolding, automatic tape laying (ATL) and automatic fiber laying (AFP). The main advantage of Maezio is its adjustability. Only 120 microns thick UD carbon fiber tape can be laminated from different angles to form a sheet that can be adjusted to meet various performance and mechanical standards. The resulting sheet is strong, hard, lightweight, and has a natural one-way surface finish. In addition, CFRTP composites are recyclable.
Despite the widespread interest in outer covers and enclosures, the role of composite materials in internal electronic components cannot be ignored. For example, Samsung (Seoul, South Korea) launched the Galaxy Note9 in 2018 with a water-carbon cooling system, which is said to make the phone run more smoothly during frequent use. According to Samsung, the cooling system consists of a heat pipe or "radiator", and the water phase changes to effectively dissipate heat. First, the water-filled porous structure absorbs heat, then the water turns into steam and moves through pipes. As the steam begins to cool and returns to water, the process begins again. The Galaxy Note9 has a larger heat pipe than its predecessor, and also benefits from an enhanced carbon fiber TIM (Thermal Interface Material), which is said to transfer heat from the processor to the heat sink with 3.5 times the efficiency, thereby improving Increases thermal conductivity and helps prevent overheating.
In addition, for decades, fiberglass / epoxy laminates have been the base structural substrate for printed circuit boards (PCBs). These iconic green thin "cards" support the core transistors, resistors, and integrated circuits of almost all digital technologies and connect them electrically through conductive paths etched or printed on their surfaces. Multilayer PCBs are interwoven from copper-clad (and etched) laminates with high resin content (HRC) prepreg layers, and then pressed into an integrated structure. It is then drilled and plated with copper to form a via that connects to the internal etched circuit. The core wire is used as a structural unit, while the HRC prepreg provides dielectric insulation between adjacent copper circuit layers.
According to industry insiders, the global PCB market is expected to reach $ 80.1 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.3% from 2018 to 2023. The market growth factors of the PCB market include the increasing adoption of automation by various end-user industries, increased demand for wireless devices, miniaturization of devices, increased efficiency of interconnect solutions, and increased demand for flexible circuits.
Glass fiber / epoxy dominance in the electronics market has been challenged because many of these trends (especially miniaturization, better thermal management, increased speed and performance, and 3D printing) have forced PCB manufacturers to re-examine their materials select.