Consumers directly benefit as electronic devices become smaller, better performing, and more user-friendly. As advances come ever more quickly, however, brand owners are challenged to select materials that keep pace with increasing demands for stylish, reliable, and durable electronics. Additionally, more consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable electronics.
Application-matched Eastman specialty plastics help manufacturers offer benefits in the following areas.
Innovative applications and greater IoT integration will continue to raise the bar for audio performance. The acoustic properties of thermoplastics can be compared on their ability to reduce vibration and any associated interference with the audio signal.
Eastman is a leader in testing for vibration damping in appliances and other industries. Recently, Eastman applied this expertise to evaluate how different housing materials affect acoustic performance. This research showed that Eastman Tritan™ copolyester and Eastman Trēva™ engineering bioplastic provide superior damping characteristics relative to polycarbonate.
The link between chemical attack and durable electronics is often overlooked in consumer products. Electronic devices are exposed to a variety of chemical agents that can reduce both performance and durability:
- Wearable devices will contact the skin. In addition to body oils, wearable electronics such as headphones are often exposed to hair products, sunscreens, DEET, common cleansers, and other chemical agents.
- Portable and stationary devices may face daily cleaning with disinfectants.
- Displays and lighting applications may be exposed to a variety of environmental cleaners and solvents.
Eastman specialty plastics and cellulosics can help ensure greater chemical compatibility with everyday chemicals, improving device reliability by reducing environmental stress cracking (ESC) and extending product life.
Eastman has led several initiatives to test chemical resistance and impact strength following chemical attack. Work with medical devices and housings led to the development of a simple four-step testing protocol that can be conducted in-house. The protocol has been endorsed by leading disinfectant manufacturers and is often considered the industry’s gold standard.
Many companies are acutely aware of the value of reducing environmental impact in a more circular economy. Driven by environmental conscience and encouraged by research that shows consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable electronics, a high percentage have formal sustainable goals, objectives, and milestones. Though consumer decisions are most often based on performance and aesthetics, sustainability can be a differentiator—and companies have an opportunity to set their products apart with biobased materials and environmental messaging.
Recently, Eastman conducted market research to evaluate consumer behavior concerning sustainable electronics. Contact Eastman for an infographic of the research and to discuss how the results can apply to your products.
Eastman has been committed to sustainability for decades, as reported in the annual Sustainability Report. Two of Eastman’s specialty plastics—its newest and one of its oldest—derive from trees grown in renewable and sustainably managed forests. Both of these cellulose-based plastics—Eastman Trēva™ the first engineering bioplastic, and Tenite™ cellulosics—offer outstanding chemical resistance, excellent material flow, and the toughness required of polymers to be used in wearable electronics.
The same commitment to reducing environment impact led to Eastman’s development of other Prop 65– compliant plastics, which are—all made without styrenics or other materials of concern.
Toughness and impact strength
Increased touch points and portability mean that devices will inevitably be exposed to more drops and applied stress. Eastman specialty plastics lead the way in withstanding the knocks and bumps that can affect not only the performance and life expectancy of durable electronics but also their—lifetime sustainability profiles of a device.
Eastman specialty plastics consistently outperform traditional engineering polymers for toughness in a variety of impact and drop tests. They can also boast greater flex fatigue resistance and dimensional stability to help ensure improved durability and longevity.
Eastman materials provide strength for devices such as thin-walled, miniaturized electronic wearables as well as—dimensional stability across wide temperature and humidity ranges.
Additionally, Eastman leads in the documenting and sharing of test results against polycarbonate, ABS, and other incumbent materials and competitive new materials.
Discerning consumers are more concerned than ever about what goes into the materials that comprise their devices—especially those that will contact the skin.
Eastman offers many Prop 65–compliant plastics that are made without bisphenols (BPA), BPS, styrene, halogens, or other materials of concern listed in the California Proposition 65 regulations.
California Proposition 65 is more officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The impact of Prop 65 goes well beyond drinking water—and beyond the state of California—to affect material selection in wearable electronics throughout the country.
Notably, it affects the use of polycarbonate and some other commonly engineering polymers that contain bisphenol A (BPA), BPS, and other “materials of concern.” Consumer products that are made with non-compliant materials may be required to contain disruptive messages on their labels, which can negatively affect sales and brand loyalty.
Most Eastman specialty plastics, including Eastman Tritan™ copolyester, Eastman Trēva™ engineering biopolastic, and others, are Prop 65–compliant plastics—made without bisphenols, styrenics, halogens, or any of the other 850+ materials of concern on the Prop 65 list.
Contact Eastman to discuss the value of Prop 65–compliant plastics when you select polymers for wearable electronics.
Fabrication and assembly are important steps in manufacturing wearable electronic products.
Eastman is committed to helping customers achieve the best results in secondary operations, including quality polymers for wearable electronics that will deliver:
- Toughness to withstand mount screws and fabrication
- Chemical resistance to ensure compatibility with solvents and bonding agents
- Toughness and temperature resistance for better results from sonic welding operations
The Tritan Secondary Operations Guide is one example of Eastman’s commitment to helping customers get the best results from its polymers.
For wearable electronics, devices, and displays that demand high light transmittance and low haze, Eastman offers technical support and several polymer solutions.
Eastman Tritan™ copolyester is proven in many applications for its optical properties and clarity. Eastman has conducted extensive testing to measure levels of light transmittance and haze as well as color retention.
A new cellulose ester product, Eastman Trēva™ engineering bioplastic, additionally offers the advantages of low birefringence, a quality that—reduces the “rainbow effect” in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) glasses as well as backlit displays.
Further, Eastman is a leader in optical polymer technology that is ideal for:
- Brightness management—copolyesters
- Protection layers—cellulose triacetate
- Touch sensors—transparent conductive coatings
- Polarizer compensation—unique low-birefringent polymers
With growing demand for electronics comes a need for responsible end-of-life disposal and a responsible selection of sustainably sourced materials.
The EPA reports that Americans generated 3.09 million tons of obsolete electronic products in 2015.* Eastman develops polymers and works with leading industry engineers and designers to help address this problem in two complementary ways: sustainability (e.g., sustainably sourced Eastman Trēva™ engineering bioplastic) and reduced waste (e.g., adding impact-resistant Eastman Tritan™ copolyester to improve durability).
* Basic Information about Electronics Stewardship. EPA.gov website at:
https://www.epa.gov/smm-electronics/basic-information-about-electronics-stewardship. Accessed Feb. 3, 2019.