Q. What are some new designs and concepts possible through next-generation thermoplastics?
A. High-performance materials can enable freedom of design in components like connectors and sockets, as well as antennae and frames.

Antennae need to be thinner and lighter, while still remaining structurally sound. This is especially important given the proliferation and increasing integration of components and the trend towards higher frequencies. Special laser direct structuring grades is an example of a suitable answer for the challenges of antennae.

Q. How does upgrading to a new material help solve industry challenges?
A. Frames, whether for smartphones or tablets, need to be robust, reliable and durable. The real challenge for the industry is finding a way to achieve all this while reducing frame thickness and weight.

BlurbStanyl ForTii is an example of a thermoplastic resin that addresses key industry trends like convergence and aesthetics. Engineers look for high stiffness and structural rigidity and excellent weld-line strength and low warpage.

The material should be easy to process, without the need for secondary operations (like deflashing). Thinner (and lighter) frame walls with excellent durability are always welcome, too.

Q. What are the parameters that must be considered when looking at materials for printed circuit board (PCB) surface mount technology manufacturing?
A. The first thing engineers consider is the melting temperature and heat-deflection temperature of resin, which needs to be 280°C or higher (260°C is needed for lead-free reflow soldering, but the hot-spot might be 10~20 degrees higher).

Second, after soldering, the component should not warp, which can lead to loose-contact with the board, affecting final PCB performance. Hence, the material should have balanced stiffness as well as low internal stresses after moulding. So materials with higher flow and good weld strength are preferred.

Q. What should an engineer consider when looking at materials for connectors?
A. There is no standard answer for connector requirement because it depends on connector design. Some connectors need to have higher toughness (elongation at break or EAB) due to hinge function/design, while some connectors need to provide high mechanical strength. For the miniaturised connector, high flow and low warpage are also needed.

The second key criteria is how the component is soldered on to the PCB—surface mount or pin through hole—based on which you need to select the material with the right melting point, so that it is compatible with the soldering process. Choice of material can range from standard engineering plastics like PBT/PET/PA6/PA66 to high-heat resins like PA46/PA4T/PPA/LCP.


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