Suppliers, fabricators set the stage for greater use of composites in consumer electronics.

Several years ago, the consumer electronics market seemed ripe for opportunity for composites companies, says Ben Halford, CEO of Surface Generation, a United Kingdom-based provider of technology to help optimize the use of advanced composite materials. Numerous suppliers and fabricators were exploring ways to add their materials into innovative consumer solutions.

“What I see now is different, probably more realistic,” Halford says. Three years ago, he says, consumer electronics was all about trying to deploy virgin composites in mass-produced applications. Today, it is about providing strength to specific areas where support is needed.

Composites companies are looking for new ways to be part of those solutions – and drive the next wave of innovation.

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By decorating injection-molded device housings in-mold, Bond-Laminates has been able to reduce costs for producing composite-based consumer electronic housings. Photo credit: LANXESS

Determining What the Consumer Wants

As dramatic innovation has slowed in devices such as smartphones and tablets over the last couple of years, consumer electronic designers have sought to rebalance priorities.

“Customers are asking for lower prices on the one hand, and at same time they expect an excellent stiffness, preferably at lower thicknesses and weight,” notes Jochen Bauder, managing director of Bond-Laminates GmbH, a subsidiary of specialty chemicals company LANXESS.