When a new tablet comes out, the first thing you hear about is its fancy new specifications. Display size and resolution, pixel density, camera quality, processor speed, and storage space are all huge selling points—but what you are rarely told is what all of those hardware components are made out of. High-quality plastics and plastic sheet materials are used for shielding, heat resistance, and conductivity in many tablet parts. Let’s explore how plastic has helped to shape and advance the technology industry right under our noses.
The Elemental Makeup of Electronics
Just like our bodies, the electronics that we use on a daily basis are composed of a variety of different components. Aluminum, carbon, oxygen, iron, and silicon make up over 80% of our tablets, phones, and other electronics, with copper, cobalt, chrome, nickel, and other elements making up the remainder. These in conjunction with an array of other metals, alloys, and plastics, form our miniature computers.
Printed Circuit Boards
Practically every piece of computerized equipment today uses a non-conductive substrate which is then laminated to a copper sheet to create a circuit board. This sheet is connected to electrical components with etched lines and pads. A few different plastics are used to make these sheets for their durability and heat resistance.
A composite polycarbonate substrate, made from woven fiberglass cloth and a flame resistant epoxy resin binder, is a commonly used in the circuit boards. It is useful to the process because of its superior performance in humid or dry conditions, low water absorption rate, durability, and electrical properties. Alternatively, ABS thermoplastic can be used for its similar properties and superior recyclability. Both plastics are also relatively inexpensive and lightweight, making them superior to aluminum or magnesium metal alloys.
With Carbon Fibers
While carbon fiber itself isn’t a plastic, the strands of it are weaved through a plastic polymer to create a strong, lightweight base for many tablets and laptops. This fiber adds strength to the plastics that are found throughout the tablet. The fiber also helps keep its plastic companion parts cool as it is not a good head conductor.
As a Semi-Conductor
When you need a material that is protective, light-weight, heat-resistant, and conductive, look no further than high-performance plastics. Plastic solutions are the most frequently used materials when a high purity and a high-temperature resistance are imperative, such as in a high-performance tablet.
For a Durable Outer Shell
When it comes to protecting your tablet from drops, nothing is more effective than plastic. Unlike a metal-based material, it can protect against heat fluctuations and it allows for maximum signal reception. The flexible plastic material provides the best combination of protection and function, making it the only option for protecting electronics from damage, weather, and wear.