According to Covestro, consumers want their notebooks, tablets, TVs and smartphones to be ever faster, thinner and lighter – but also robust and sophisticated in design. And, of course, made from sustainable materials whenever possible.
Certainly, composite blends have contributed to thinner smartphones, laptops and tablets, even as they’ve helped increase stiffness. For example, HP’s newly-released Spectre lays claim to being the thinnest laptop ever, at only 10.4 mm. To attain that distinction, it blends aluminum with carbon fiber.
According to information from HP, the Spectre’s frame is CNC-machined aluminum. It’s the CFRP bottom that helps maintain a thin profile that is both durable and lightweight. That composite blend helps keep the notebook’s total weight at 2.45 pounds and, say product reviewers, make the thin machine feel sturdy in hand.
That blend – carbon fiber in support of traditional materials that dominate the consumer electronics market – is one area where composite suppliers may see growth.
“Carbon fiber is now being used where it genuinely adds value, both economically and technically,” Halford says. “We will put carbon fiber as reinforcement, but we’ll fill the details in with injection molding. That’s the trend. We’re using it where it should be.”
Prioritizing Power Over Size
Reviewers call the HP Spectre innovative in that it marries sleekness with power. Typically, going thinner for computers and similar electronics means sacrifice.
“It’s a tradeoff,” points out Halford. “You can either keep making it a thinner product or you can make it the same thickness and have a longer battery life.” In fact, some consumers have begun revolting against thinness.