Thin? Light? Strong? DuPont™ Zytel® HTN
ticks all the boxes
By Max Chen, Marketing Specialist at DuPont Performance Polymers
Thanks to innovations in electronic density, power and cooling, coupled with advances in engineering polymers, designers of portable and handheld electronic devices rarely have to trade form for function, even when they create world beaters in terms of size and weight.
Innovative Taiwanese laptop PC manufacturer, Inhon, has just released the Blade 13, the world's thinnest and lightest PC laptop, which uses top and bottom covers made from plastic. Coming in at an impressive 12.6mm thick and weighing just 1.19kg, the laptop has DuPont™ Zytel® HTN, an advanced engineering polymer, to thank for these incredible size and weight figures.
One might think that this small envelope would be at the sacrifice of performance, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the laptop's diminutive size packs plenty of power. Available with an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, users can also opt for a 128GB or 256GB SSD, 4GB RAM and the laptop comes with a 13-inch 1080p high-definition display.
For the laptop's top and bottom covers, engineers at Inhon turned to Zytel® HTN, a high-performance polyamide resin. Zytel® HTN offers a very attractive combination of high impact strength and high flexural modulus; something that traditional resins such as PC/ABS or PC+GF cannot achieve. These characteristics, coupled with excellent processing capabilities, make Zytel® HTN an ideal choice for thinner, lighter and more durable handheld device housings.
According to Stanley Wei, sales manager at Inhon: "Engineering polymers from DuPont were the materials of choice right from the outset—at the very beginning of the design process. Zytel® HTN is easy to process using injection molding, while also offering us good flow characteristics and a high yield rate. It also proved to be a great candidate for our unique Cavity Film Texture (CFT) technology, which has been used to make the PC laptop's top and bottom cover appealing from both visual and tactile standpoints." Aesthetics plays a huge role, as it does with virtually all handheld equipment made these days. "Zytel® HTN offered us an excellent substrate coupled with its easy processability that really helps to demonstrate our CFT technology to the fullest."
Zytel® HTN offers a number of other features for handheld and portable applications. One of the primary benefits is its low moisture absorption when compared to other polyamide groups. Low moisture uptake prevents the plastic from "detuning" and changing its RFI characteristics compared to its original specification. If a material becomes laden with moisture and detunes, the device's battery has to supply more power to the antenna and the battery life suffers as a result. With modern processors already dominating the battery statistics in phones and computers, manufacturers can ill afford to be shackled further by inappropriate material choices.
From a processing perspective, Zytel® HTN grades can also save energy, cost and time thanks to its excellent flow and dimensional stability. A halogen-free*, flame retardant grade is also available for compliance with recycling programs for discarded electronic products. Specific grades are also available that can withstand high-temperature circuit assembly methods, including those using lead-free solder.
All the materials that DuPont has developed for the handheld and portable device markets are highly stiff and protect the parts from excessive deflection, if dropped. Screens and circuit boards cannot afford to twist or deform too much, so stiffness is vital. DuPont uses 50% glass filler to achieve the best stiffness and toughness (only possible in nylons such as Zytel® HTN), but also has to consider warpage, RFI compatibility, colorability and surface finish—a fine balancing act.
DuPont has also developed a repetitive-impact test, which, rather than testing impact test bars to discover the energy to shear, actually tests and measures the number of times a sample can be hit until it breaks. This test is much more representative of the use a handheld device will see and demonstrates that Zytel® HTN offers leading performance in its class.
*halogen-free, in this context, means that no halogen is used as an intended ingredient