In today’s world, it’s not unusual to think of plastic in association with electronics. However, some industries are taking the idea to the next level. How many times do you see/use electronics housed in plastic just during your morning commute?
Plastic is light, cheap, readily available, and comes in an almost endless variety of colors and textures. Lots of industries capitalize on plastic’s benefits, including the electronics world, but the potential is so much greater than what we see in today’s mainstream applications.
If you’ve ever dropped your cellphone or watched your dog chew through your laptop charger, you know that electronics don’t do well with impact, strain, or other environmental factors. In today’s world, lots of electronics live in less than ideal environments like war zones, aircraft with high velocities and vibrations, inclement weather, etc. and they have to function. One of the reasons we are able to have reliable electronics in these situations is through encapsulation. Special blends of plastic are melted and molded around electronics to help them withstand extreme conditions (impact, water, sand, wind, vibrations, etc.).
Another way is by utilizing the flexibility of plastic to create flexible electronics. By layering plastic between thin circuit boards, we can now create very high performance cable assemblies that are extremely compact,light-weight and form-able. Where you might have seen a cabinet full of tangled round cables, there are now only a handful of flat cables strategically running from component to component.
Electronics are made up primarily of silicon and metal. Plastics are much lighter weight than metal, but because they aren’t conductive, weren’t used inside electronic components.
Scientists have discovered ways to incorporate plastic and plastic-type materials into electronics. This means that anything from a completely flexible and transparent cell phone to fully electronic wallpaper is now possible. Imagine being able to simply talk inside your home and interact with a computer whose components are printed directly on the walls . Your phone could fold up like a napkin in your pocket.
You might consider this one a bit obvious, but it has taken a while to be developed. Vehicles are made of steel. Steel weighs a lot. Weight means bad fuel economy, and everyone wants better fuel economy. The solution? Many say plastic!
In addition to the weight savings, replacement parts are extremely easy/inexpensive to produce, ship, and install.
Finding a plastic minivan on the car lot may be a few years out, but there is no doubt that many companies are investing in the concept.
The Creation of a New Industry
This concept of incorporating plastics and electronics has sparked an entirely new culture of enthusiasts. There are trade shows, university research, think tanks, and websites completely devoted to the development and commercialization of plastic electronics.
Ehren-Haus works every day with clients looking to incorporate the two, whether they are developing new products or improving legacy pieces, we have the opportunity to help create exciting new custom plastic solutions to their challenges. If you’re interested in learning more about how Ehren-Haus can support your plastic electronic product goals, give us a call, if we can’t offer the right solution, we can certainly help find someone who can.