The cost of living across the world is rising and it looks set to increase further as we head towards a global recession. In 37 of 44 countries studied by the Pew Research Center (making use of data from the OECD), the average annual inflation rate in the first quarter of 2022 was at least twice what it was in the first quarter of 2020. In 16 countries, first-quarter inflation was more than four times the level of two years prior.
As a result of these rampant price rises, more people than ever are looking at ways they can save the pennies and be more cost efficient. When we combine this financial prudence with the greater environmental consciousness we are seeing from consumers today, it is not surprising that behaviours around purchasing and owning electronic devices are changing. People increasingly want a device that is durable and long-lasting: both because it is more cost-effective but also because it is more sustainable.
Manufacturers therefore need to be cogniscent of these trends; look at the components of devices and re-evaluate how they can prevent electronic damage and increase product life-cycle to the benefit of their consumer customers and themselves.
Protecting all the constituent parts – waterproof, sustainable electronics
To do that, of course, they will need to sustainably protect devices and materials and given the ever-present risk of corrosion damage, liquid protection is critical to this.
Traditional conformal coatings are simply not sufficient to reduce repairs, carbon footprint and costly device failure. Liquid-based conformal coats protect only certain components, however, do not protect the full board inside the device. This can mean the end for devices that are susceptible to water ingress such as those with multiple moving parts or are open in design. Components that protect the insides of devices such as O-rings and gaskets fall short of resilience as they can be easily dislodged, allowing liquid to seep in and causing irreversible water damage.
Ultra-thin plasma conformal coatings delivering a robust conformal coating will increase product lifecycles and eliminate scrap on the assembly line when the product is being made because they can form a reworkable protective layer.
Consequently, manufacturers won’t need to landfill waste products because the process instead enables them to rework products and replace components. As a result, with product lifecycles increasing, return rates will fall away. When products do get returned when customers have finished using them, there is the potential to then re-use them by simply re-using or recycling the key components and feeding them back into the supply chain.
There are also commercial benefits for the device manufacturer from all this. They get a great return on investment for the extra cost of the nanocoating versus the cost of the logistics of the returns and repairs on their devices.
Yet, as we look to the future, there is no sign of the current economic crosswinds abating anytime soon. In this environment, it is even more important than ever that the customer is king. The good news is that electronic device manufacturers can put consumers first, while also forwarding their own interests. As always, protecting core components from liquid damage by offering the right kind of protection will be key in making this happen.
See how P2i’s unique technology benefits the electronics sector by reading our dedicated page.
In the current economic climate, it feels that there isn’t a week that goes by without reported shortages. Whether it’s the lack of sunflower oil due to 52% of it being sourced from Ukraine, or the well-publicised scarcity of baby formula products in the United States, businesses are facing new challenges in bringing services and products to consumers.
The electronics sector hasn’t been immune from material shortages, with the lack of semiconductor chips affecting industries from automotive to games consoles. Almost every digital electronic device today is now powered by a semiconductor, which reflects their importance in the market. Concerningly, following a continued shortage since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s now feared that this situation won’t ease until 2023.
While organisations struggle with limited production capabilities and consumers fight to source electrical products, increasing the product lifecycle with sustainable electronics will help keep stock numbers as high as possible and prevent more chips being needed for repair or replacements. But what can manufacturers do to ensure this type of longevity and waterproof electronics?
Increasing device lifespan
The answer is sustainable conformal coatings. Increasing the product lifecycle for as long as possible will not only ensure value is maintained for the current user, but also for any subsequent users. Preventing electronic damage typically revolves around the need to reduce corrosion to internal elements from liquid ingress. Depending on the type of device, there’s likely to be different requirements, whether it’s simply splash resistance to increase the hydrophobic properties or the ability to be submerged.
Thankfully, P2i’s ultra-thin plasma coatings are the way to sustainably protect devices and materials. These coatings keep devices working for longer and means that scrap is eliminated from the assembly line when the product is manufactured due to being reworkable, while return rates reduce as reliability increases.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
While maintaining product lifespan is beneficial in reducing the number of scarce additional semiconductors needed for replacements, it’s also critical in contributing to the circular economy. It’s been calculated that in 2022, there is over 347 metric tonnes of unrecycled e-waste on earth, with only 17.4% of it being collected and properly recycled.
Building sustainability into IoT devices from the design stage is vital to ensure that they don’t add to the concerning number of e-waste electricals sitting on landfill. Increasing product lifespan is also a necessity as consumers aim to be more sustainable in their purchases. According to Deloitte’s Sustainability & Consumer Behaviour 2021 report, over a third (34%) of consumers said that they opt for brands that have environmentally sustainable practices or values.
Accounting for external factors
There’s little doubt that the shortfall of semiconductor chips has sent shockwaves through the electronics sector. With the issue looking set to remain, manufacturers need to adopt sustainable solutions to keep their products out in the market for longer, allowing them to weather the chip shortage storm. Increasing product lifecycles has an additionally positive effect on the circular economy. Organisations now have a responsibility to keep IoT devices operational and away from landfill, thereby benefitting the planet and meeting consumer demand.
See how P2i’s unique technology benefits the electronics sector by reading our dedicated page.
Longer product lifetimes can help reduce smartphones’ environmental impact. First, however, vendors and carriers may need to find more efficient methods of liquid protection. Deloitte Global predicts that smartphones are likely to generate an astonishing 146 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) or equivalent emissions (CO2e) in 2022 alone, placing an urgent need to reshape the sustainability practices of the smartphone industry.
Manufacturers and suppliers must urgently find ways of reducing the carbon footprint generated both by the manufacturing process and across the product lifecycle. They need to be able to extend product life and produce less waste during the manufacturing process whilst also focus on extending the life of devices further by making them more repairable. These aims are critically important in the face of today’s climate emergency. After all, “the single biggest factor that could reduce a smartphone’s carbon footprint is a longer expected lifetime.” But how can manufacturers and suppliers best achieve them and what are the benefits of this?
How liquid protection extends product life
Producing products with a longer lifespan will help reduce the need for repairs and spare parts, and a manufacturer’s environmental footprint. The key to ensuring that level of robustness in production is the utilisation of longer-lasting protection. It is here where liquid protection plays a crucial role.
Of course, manufacturers must largely focus on reducing e-waste, but also on extending the product lifecycle with design-in sustainability. That involves protecting the product from damage, including from liquids, right from the start. The logic is simple – If products are not damaged, they are not thrown away and there’s less need to mine for minerals and increase the environmental footprint. In the electronics manufacturing sector, damaged products represent the fastest growing waste stream, so the urgency in the race to reduce waste is clear. Manufacturers must act now, yet many simply don’t have the right systems in place to prevent liquid damage and reduce e-waste.
Live long and prosper
Making products that live for longer will be the fastest route towards satisfying ESG demands for electronics manufacturers. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 report, 75% of emissions linked to a smartphone can be attributed to the manufacturing stage. It might come as a surprise but extending the life of these devices by just 4.5 years can cut emissions in half, making the smartphone lifespan extension the single biggest factor that could reduce its carbon footprint. One way to achieve it is by implementing protective technologies that were designed to prolong the product lifetime at its design stage. With the right level of liquid protection incorporated into the devices, manufacturers can not only contribute to saving the planet, but also save on the costs of ‘tear downs’ and repairs later on.
Coatings that fall short
Traditional coatings are simply not sufficient enough to reduce repairs and carbon footprint. Liquid-based conformal coats protect only certain components, however, do not protect the full board inside the device. This can mean the end for devices that are susceptible to water ingress such as those with multiple moving parts or are open in design. Components that protect the insides of devices such as O-rings and gaskets fall short of resilience as they can be easily dislodged, allowing liquid to seep in and causing irreversible water damage.
There’s also the case of device cleaning which presents further danger. Chemical cleaning products can be particularly harmful if they reach the inside of a device. This has become a more significant problem as a result of the pandemic, which has meant devices are likely to be cleaned more often.
Find out more about the impact of Covid-19 and regular cleaning from our whitepaper.
There is a better way
Adding solid protection to devices is crucial to increase their lifespan and help manufacturers become more sustainable. However, traditional coatings are not the solution as they likely to increase the devices’ bulk and weight, making them less desirable to consumers and therefore negatively affecting the manufacturers’ bottom lines. They can also remove the all-important design freedom of engineers who wish to innovate and pioneer new electronic devices.
Manufacturers have always wanted to have greater freedom to design electronics that look instantly appealing and be comfortable for users to handle and operate. The latest ultra-thin plasma coatings from P2i allow electronics manufacturers to embrace that design freedom and have complete confidence in device protection that supports sustainability initiatives. Even when water can easily enter a device, whether by damage or design, P2i’s ultra-thin plasma coatings can eliminate internal corrosion and prolong the devices lifespan, without compromising on their weight, usability and appeal.
As less than 20% of electronic waste is currently collected and recycled, adopting nano-technology liquid protection solutions will also enable manufacturers to fully rework their devices. Reducing e-waste, costs and the use of chemicals by applying nano-coatings is a great way to deliver the sustainable competitive advantage to consumers and protect the environment.
Discover more about P2i’s sustainable liquid protection solutions for consumer electronics here.
We’re currently at the dawn of a new age of nostalgia in consumer electronics, from the return of vinyl record players to the latest classic gaming flash drives. More brands are following the footsteps of Nintendo and Nokia and resurrecting their old products whilst at the same time selling new and modern ones. But it’s not about making a profit of our fond memories.
People are increasingly attracted by the beauty, elegance and simplicity of classic designs. In fact, one of the biggest trends sees younger generations turning their backs on high-tech smartphones in favour of ‘dumb’ models from the 1990s. The come-back of a humble foldable phone is being driven by a nostalgic craze for 90s retro together with a desire to switch off from the always-on experience of the latest smartphones. This leap forward in the design of consumer electronics means manufacturers and designers are now challenged to offer greater flexibility whilst at the same make products more reliable and durable.
Design freedom is an urgent necessity but how do you achieve it?
The growing popularity of retro look flip-phones, in particular, highlights the need for creative freedom as designers create these latest classic look gadgets. Old-ish designs are often complex to generate as they have multiple moving parts. When opting in for a foldable phone, consumers don’t want to go down the memory lane of frustrating glitches but rather the easiness and simplicity of making and ending calls just by opening and closing the phone. This requires the devices to be high-quality in design. Yet they still need quality protection – not least from the possibility of liquid ingress.
Consumers have come to expect this capability today as they want their devices to last as long as possible. If you were to buy any of the leading flagship phone products, they would all have a level of liquid protection. Frankly, the good old Nokia 3310 is still claiming the top spot of an indestructible phone today, even when dropped on a pavement it would more often than not still be working perfectly fine. Designers must find a way of building this capability into modern devices that are exposed to threats 24/7 without compromising the look feel and flexibility of the device in any way.
Ensuring quality by getting liquid protection right
As a designer, you may have achieved a bigger screen and battery but you still have to design in your ‘standard’ features, including liquid protection. In today’s world of carrying devices around 24/7, there is a greater demand for liquid protection going beyond just splashes and spills, and now requiring protection to harsh environmental threats, post dropping and outer casing damage. The difficulty of traditional mechanical seal solutions for liquid protection is they are not designed to be flexed or bent in any way. That’s why they are used to seal rigid devices rather than devices with folding screens. If used on the latter, mechanical seals become quickly damaged and cease to protect the device from liquid entering and harming the internal electronics.
Ultra-thin plasma coatings, in contrast, allow for this movement and are not compromised over time. P2i’s end-to-end water protection solution Barrier Coating requires no seals or gaskets and provides manufacturers with the opportunity to go beyond the traditional device design, including foldable and flexible displays and bezel-less designs. The protection of internal components ensures that water can repeatedly enter the device without the risk of liquid damage, allowing consumers to love their retro devices for longer.
New philosophy for innovative retro design
In creating electronic devices, manufacturers must have design freedom to meet the changing consumer trends and high expectations, as well as immerse themselves in the creativity that the design field is all about. This freedom and flexibility becomes more important the more the design differs from a standard format and the more movable parts it has. Manufacturers should never be constrained by components and technology being added to their product. That’s core to the ethos of electronic product design and should be a priority for any electronic products manufacturer, choosing what solutions to add to their devices.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how nanotechnology liquid protection solutions can enable you to embrace and benefit from greater design flexibility, check out P2i’s range of solutions here.
According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste – discarded products with a battery or plug such as computers and mobile phones – was generated worldwide in 2019, up 9.2 Mt in five years. The report also predicts global e-waste will reach 74.7 Mt by 2030, almost double the 2014 figure, fuelled by higher electric and electronic consumption rates, shorter lifecycles and limited repair options.
There is an urgent need to reduce this figure to protect public health and the environment and to reduce costs.
With consumers continuing to purchase electronic devices at a rapid rate and hardware technology continuing to advance, manufacturers have both a responsibility and an opportunity to revolutionise the supply chain, prevent tech hoarding and reduce e-waste.
Manufacturers do, after all, play an important part in driving the circular economy and have the power to promote the right to repair movement so that it reaches many communities and we can all see the benefits. Here we outline five key ways they can go about doing this.
1. Promote the Right to Repair
One way for manufacturers to reduce e-waste is to actively seek ways to make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics, provide key information in manuals and guides and partner with businesses who will make repairs a seamless experience too.
There is a great potential here, as the popularity of repair cafés testifies. Backed by manufacturers, businesses could partner with local restaurants/cafes/universities and offer their expertise, create awareness days, repair days etc. to support the movement. This will give them a competitive advantage as consumers want the right to repair to be a reality.
2. Anticipate and embrace legislation
Regulatory restrictions are expected to tighten over the years; there’s no way of avoiding them, but anticipating them can help manufacturers adapt their processes and operations sooner, save money and keep a competitive advantage as consumers are increasingly demanding sustainability from all businesses. This is a great chance for electronic design manufacturers to support consumers in making more sustainable decisions.
3. Design for repairability and recyclability
Practical solutions like liquid proof coatings help manufacturers to protect electronics from the dangers of water damage but they can also make devices more repairable from the start than their mechanical seal competitors, helping to eliminate the need for full replacement. The use of ultra thin coatings will increase the reliability of such devices and help ensure they are sustainable and environmentally friendly. In line with this, P2i’s technology not only gives manufacturers design freedom, but also ensures liquid protection remains for the lifetime of the product.
4. Implement recycling programmes
Many manufacturers today are looking to manage their own e-waste and search for elements that can be reused, recycled or responsibly disposed of. Going a step further and implementing company-wide schemes and recycling programs would make it easier and encourage consumers to return their old or broken devices.
5. Support the circular economy
In a circular economy, manufacturers should be continuously focusing on reducing e-waste by reusing resources. Materials can be added to one device before the device is then used and returned – and the material reclaimed. The materials can then be added to a second device and the cycle is repeated. P2i is passionate about making this possible and extending the life of devices through the use of our technology to ensure electronic components are protected from harsh environments.
Seizing the opportunity
The global problem of e-waste is a serious one and it is only getting worse. Electronics manufacturers have the opportunity to address this by supporting the right to repair movement and the circular economy, by implementing recycling programmes and critically too, by ensuring they put repairability at the very heart of their design process.
More information about P2i’s range of ultra thin coating technology and how it can play a part in making devices more repairable and therefore in reducing e-waste can be found here.
Right to repair has become a global movement whose advocates aim to encourage OEMs to make products more repairable, make parts more available for repairs, and provide repair information. Today, it is rapidly gaining in popularity, with Apple recently announcing Self Service Repair and Microsoft helping consumers make DIY repairs on their surface products.
Scoping the challenge
The urgency to change is highlighted by the dynamic growth curve of global electronic waste. Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, with only 15-20% recycled. 53 million tonnes of e-waste are produced each year, which is the equivalent weight of 350 cruise ships.
Greater repairability and recyclability is key here – and the right to repair movement can help. Legislation will be a key future focus – and, despite the challenges outlined above, it is now starting to happen. For example, last summer, the UK introduced new right to repair laws, which are aligned with the EU’s policy package that includes right to repair mandates. According to the UK government, the legislation will reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated each year.
In the US, the recent executive order signed by President Biden contained a recommendation to the FTC to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to repair items they own by limiting manufacturers’ ability to bar self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products. The FTC voted to adopt this order and to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions.
Globally though, there is still a long way to go to move away from a throw-away economy. Some laws have not addressed the information barrier for product owners or the cost issues and they still allow the practice of ‘bundling’ multiple smaller components together with some common spare parts, meaning if the bearings of a washing machine fail, a consumer needs to repair the entire drum (with costs comparable to replacing an entire machine).
If countries such as the UK and US take steps sooner to patch up faulty legislations and extend access to spare parts and key information, then we will be better equipped to tackle the e-waste problem. If manufacturers face severe consequences for non-compliance, it’ll prompt them to change their practices and make repairability easier for everyone.
Right to repair starts at the design stage
We are already seeing signs that the game is changing. Moving forwards, for new products, we could see designs chosen for manufacture based on how easy they are to repair by a consumer.
Recent design trends have often made electronics difficult to open without compromising the device’s liquid protection mechanisms or structural integrity. Nano coatings offer a way forward here in that they can continue delivering liquid protection and do not degrade over time, so last the whole product lifetime. Typically, nano coatings are not compromised by other types of damage. Consequently, if a product needs to be repaired, the coating remains effective.
Over coming years, the drive to repairability will continue but there will also be more focus on safety. Manufacturers will need to add safety mechanisms to ensure compliance and protect devices during repair. Those mechanisms will need protecting from moisture or dust damage and that also impacts design.
Manufacturers will want to have the flexibility to be able to choose the safety mechanism most suited to their device and have that safety mechanism last ten years; be repairable; and be protected from dust and liquid too. Again, nano coating technology is key, not only helping protect the device and associated safety mechanism from damage that makes the need for repairs more likely, but also making conducting those repairs viable.
Nano coating technology eliminates the need for bulky mechanical seals – making devices easier to open and repair, and keeping circuit boards accessible and fully re-workable. With this technology, manufacturers can stay competitive in a market increasingly driven by calls for the right to repair.
More information about P2i’s range of nano coating technology and its benefits in terms of device repairability can be found here.
At P2i, we’ve been on a transformational journey since our beginnings in 2004. From our initial work in designing repellent coatings for clothing to protect the lives of the wearers to the development of nanotechnology-powered liquid protected coatings in a range of electronic devices, we’ve remained at the forefront of innovation. As part of the next step in our growth strategy, we’re delighted to share the news that we’ve received an £8m investment from Circularity Capital, a private equity firm specialising in in the circular economy.
For us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to take the next step in our environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) journey and continue to drive sustainable practices through electronics. Circularity Capital invested in P2i due to our ability to increase the product lifecycle of devices with our liquid protected coatings and nanotechnology. Circularity Capital believes in the purpose of companies, rather than just the short-term gains, and was impressed by the technology our business has developed.
Our solutions have never been more critical to achieving a more circular economy. Indeed, 71% of carbon emissions in the electronics sector are typically created during manufacturing. With consumers taking their smartphones to more locations and harsher environments, the risk of liquid ingress and device failure is increasing. Our technology enables electronic components to be reworked in comparison to conventional conformal coatings, thus extending the life of devices.
For Circularity Capital, our ability to reduce high levels of environmentally damaging e-waste was critical. After all, according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019 alone, increasing by 9.2 metric tonnes in just five years.
In addition to enhancing our circular economy credentials, this investment will allow us to expand in both our existing markets (such as mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets and hearing aids protection), as well as move into new vertical opportunities (such as the automotive industry, medical devices, industrial IoT devices, augmented reality and drones).
Typically, a significant portion of our work has focussed on OEMs and smartphone brands in the US and China, but with this investment behind us, we’ll now have the opportunity to expand into more geographies across Europe, plus India, Japan and South Korea. Not only that, but this financing also allows us to ensure our customers benefit from a better performing product and also allows them to meet their own ESG targets.
We also have some further plans in the pipeline that this investment will drive in the long-term beyond 2022. This includes evaluating how our core technology platform can contribute to increasing product lifecycles and aiding recyclability in the future.
For P2i, this partnership isn’t just significant financially, but is also valuable to us in terms of the insight and advice that Circularity Capital can provide. In protecting electronics, we’re also protecting the environment, and we’re excited to work towards our sustainable development goals with the experts by our side and expand our role in reducing the damaging effects of climate change.
Take a look at the full details of the investment in the news release here.
We are in the midst of a global chip shortage, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent surge in demand and growth of IoT devices.
Despite the easing of the pandemic, there is no sign of this shortage ending any time soon, with the president of IBM, Jim Whitehurst recently saying the global chip shortage may last a couple more years.
This makes it more important for devices to be made more durable, avoiding the need for them to be repaired or replaced so frequently, as every replacement, reduces the availability of chips.
As manufacturers look for a way out of this situation, the growth of IoT combined with the chip shortage call for manufacturers to add the right protection in the factory from the very outset.
What are the consequences of the global chip shortage?
The severity of the global chip shortage has gone up a notch recently and now affects millions of people. As the demand is bigger than the supply, a significant number of companies are feeling the pinch from car makers, smartphone manufacturers, to appliance producers. Nobody is exempt as some of the biggest names have been hit by the shortage, including the likes of Tesla, Sony and Apple.
The shortage will be felt the most amongst consumers, as it may make products more expensive, with sellers on Amazon or eBay inflating prices and consumers bearing the brunt of the cost.
Can nanotechnology increase the lifespan of devices?
According to Juniper Research, the number of IoT devices in 2021 will have reach 46 billion – a 200% increase compared to 2016. Every one of these devices has a chip in them which will be exposed to environmental threats over time, whether they are kept indoors or outdoors, through temperature swings, air conditioning and moisture. Consequently, if they start to corrode, manufacturers won’t be able to afford to keep sending out engineers to fix them, because the cost will go through the roof.
The EEA found electronics are at least 2.3 years shorter than they were designed for, highlighting the importance of increasing their lifespan during the global chip shortage.
One of the biggest risks to the integrity and longevity of products is liquid damage, as five in every six (83%) manufacturers would expect their electronic products to fail within a year without liquid protection.
To improve their lifespan, manufacturers should require different levels of liquid protection, from splash resistance to submersible devices.
Nanocoating solutions provide tremendous value for manufacturers. The initial investment significantly extends a product’s life, providing cost savings from fewer returns as well as acting to strengthen the brand image and reducing e-waste.
Fortunately, solutions like P2i plasma nanocoatings can be seamlessly integrated within manufacturers’ supply chains or overall manufacturing processes to ensure that liquid protection is built into devices at the design stage, resulting in sustainable liquid protection.
Meeting consumer sustainability needs
Building reliability and sustainability in at the design stage is particularly important as the growing number of IoT devices and a shortened lifespan of today’s devices raise environmental concerns. Damage to a device can cause vital components to corrode, making it unusable and ultimately unrepairable. The partnership between liquid protection suppliers and manufacturers will reduce electronic waste and ensure the sustainability of their products.
Taking a long-term approach to the problem
The global chip shortage highlights the need for devices to be sustainable and built to last, while alleviating the demand for chips. Building sustainable liquid protection into devices will help manufacturers increase the sustainability of their products and lessen their environment al impact.
P2i have developed a range of solutions to protect devices against humidity and weather, to splashes and spills, and to full immersion to a depth of at least 2 metres for 30 minutes.
More information about our range of sustainable liquid protection coatings can be found here.
Have you an old Motorola or Ericsson mobile phone stashed away in a drawer or hidden in the back of a cupboard, perhaps sitting alongside an old and unused laptop or printer?
If you have you are not the only one. In a recent study we carried out, we found that just over half of people (54%) are still holding on to old devices, which raises concerns that too little is being done to tackle the problem of tech-hoarding.
The survey of 321 people also found that just 19% said they recycled electronics they no longer use. This means millions of tonnes of e-waste could be piling up in people’s homes, depriving unused electronics of a second life.
In addition, we found almost half (49%) said they have used their current mobile device for one to two years, while 28% are using a phone purchased three to four years ago.
With large numbers of people changing their smartphones on a regular basis and the majority hoarding old models, manufacturers might eventually struggle to find the raw materials needed to produce new and exciting gadgets.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the study also showed a growing number of people who wish to make an effort to be more sustainable. Close to a third (27%) said they now prioritise device durability when buying a new one, highlighting the importance and urgency for smarter design processes to ensure longer lifespans for new products.
In fact, the conflicting findings highlight the significance of manufacturers increasing product lifecycles at the design stage as this is by far the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Tackling this issue will help reduce devices going to landfill as consumers become greener. One important step that consumers can make is to take all their old and broken electronic devices to a designated recycling point so that components and raw materials can be reused.
With the increasing reliance on ever-advancing technology, it’s clear that more should be done to improve the recyclability and reusability of all electronic devices.
At P2i we are committed to helping our customers reduce the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes and products. That’s why we continue to lead the way by delivering solutions that support our customers’ environmental and sustainability goals, with our liquid-repellent nanotechnology, which not only protects devices, but allows them to be easily repaired without going to waste.
If you would like to learn more about how our nano-coatings can protect your devices, get in touch with our experts today.
Dropping phones in water is a regular occurrence with a staggering 1 in 4 people (28%) likely to do it at some point. With 80 million mobile phone subscriptions in the UK, that equates to a huge amount of damaged technology.
But whilst liquid protection features have become incorporated into newer mobile phones, manufacturers have not yet been able to create devices that are 100% liquid-proof. Reasons include inaccurate soft-tooling methods in the manufacturing process that can create new ways for liquid to seep in. Protective features can also add weight to a device, a significant purchasing barrier for consumers wanting smaller, lighter phones. As a result, customers are left to look for their own means of liquid protection.
Consumers are taking matters into their own hands
Water ejection apps such as Sonic or Water Eject Shortcut are increasing in popularity but have their limitations. For example, the tones generated from the Sonic app only remove water from the device’s speaker and don’t stop it infiltrating the internal parts that can subsequently cause it to fail.
Incorporating liquid protection from the outset is now essential. People use mobile phones everywhere, from restaurants to gyms, shops to offices. 91% of people even confess to taking their phone to the bathroom. The risk of liquid damage is higher than ever.
Liquid-proofing at the design stage
To extend the life of mobile devices, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must consider liquid-proofing at the design stage.
While it adds an extra layer to the development process, in the long term it can pay dividends. A longer life means second-hand devices can be sold more easily and consumers are less likely to try and tackle the challenge themselves.
There are also environmental benefits at play. With less than 40% of electricals being recycled, the e-waste problem is huge and getting bigger and its harmful chemicals can end up in our soil, water and air.
Helping mobile devices to last longer not only positively impacts our planet by helping to enable the circular economy but also supports the sharing and reuse of excess technology. That in turn reduces the need for landfill and the incidence of e-waste. And, with new right to repair rules coming into force to encourage the repairability of electronic products, applying these regulations to mobile devices is surely not far away. Options for effective liquid protection
To realise these significant benefits, the right type of liquid protection must be applied by OEMs and they do have choices. Options include physical protection such as gaskets and O-rings, and liquid protection, such as sprays, dips and brushed-on conformal coats. Alternatively, parylene conformal coatings have been used historically, and are applied by chemical vapour deposition under a vacuum.
The most efficient and cost-effective option is Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD). Often referred to as nano-coating technology, it takes place at microscopic level and is increasingly used for a range of industries from optics and biomedical to aerospace and automotive.
Cost-savings are achieved by the low cost of applying this technology on the assembly line and eliminating scrap and by ensuring low return rates.
PECVD is also highly reliable due to the level of magnification to treat every part of a circuit board, including complete underfill. And thanks to the ionised gas-based process, there are no dynamic shifts or cracks to the coating once applied.
Treated products are also fully reworkable, which means that OEMs can, if required, resolder components and rework boards rather than having to throw them away which saves costs, reduces the need for landfill and enables regulations around waste to be more easily met.
The future of mobile device design is liquid-proofing technology
With mobile device ownership at an all-time high, incorporating preventative PECVD technology at the design stage makes perfect sense – it reduces costs, enables sustainable practices and avoids detrimental user intervention.
Now is the time for OEMs to take the lead and demonstrate the environmental and financial credentials of liquid-proofing to key stakeholders so it becomes an intrinsic part of mobile device design.