Have you ever heard about polymeric materials? One could simply call them as plastic, but polymeric materials are more than the common notion of what plastic is — and digital technology could benefit a lot from them. How? Let’s take a look at what polymers have to offer.
Polymers Over Metal
People usually think of cold, metallic hardware when asked about computers and digital tech in general. However, the truth is that even these machines and devices utilise polymeric materials. And if need a specialised component, it may be better to choose a polymeric material over metal.
This makes sense when you think of the structure of polymeric materials. One way to describe them is to imagine a chain comprised of multiple links. In other words, these materials are the sum of smaller pieces. To be precise, they’re made up of molecules sharing the same characteristics.
As researchers work with engineers to change the structure of these molecules, they could come up with much better polymeric materials. Thus, it’s not impossible for polymers to attain the same characteristics of metal — sturdy, malleable, and a good conductor of both heat and electricity.
Note that metals such as copper and lead are utilized for manufacturing computers. However, these are finite resources. It doesn’t help that gathering them is bad for the environment and the people who mine them. Scientists could find a better, more sustainable alternative in polymeric materials.
The Onset of Digital Manufacturing
It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is undergoing a radical shift. Instead of having a large human workforce to do repetitive, labor-intensive tasks, companies are now looking into robots and automation. But in order for this to become a reality, there must be more flexible materials.
The possibilities for polymeric materials are pretty endless. What matters here is how fast scientists can conduct molecular changes to form new variants — ones that are useful for both standard and customised electronic components.
Better Protection Against Chemicals
Digital technology is about the hardware and the software. Companies cannot maximize the latter if they do not invest in the former. In fact, they risk losing days or even weeks of work if the IT hardware fails. Businesses can no longer risk this in the advent of big data. Information is valuable and cyber security for a niche business is more of a necessity than an option.
What’s great about polymeric materials is that they offer a great deal of chemical resistance — especially compared to metallic materials. Metals need a special coating or two to fight against even the most typical chemicals. Otherwise, they could corrode with ease as moisture builds up.
In fact, metallic materials can also corrode if they have near proximity to other metals with opposing attributes. On the other hand, polymeric materials—along with composite materials—have nothing to worry about. There are variants that can readily handle exposure to hot water and steam.
This makes them the ideal choice for manufacturing computer components that may be exposed to chemicals in their respective working environment. Moreover, there are polymers that can tolerate temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius, which means they are good for combatting overheating issues.
Lighter and Less Maintenance
While smartphones are getting bigger each year, other aspects of digital tech are doing the opposite. More storage is available in smaller storage devices. Likewise, the same size of camera lenses can now take better photos. Companies are competing to create the lightest yet most powerful tech products.
This is where polymeric materials come in. Plastic is much lighter than metallic materials. Specialised polymer components can reduce the overall weight of IT hardware by a significant margin. Companies can then lower the price of their devices since they won’t have to pay as high as before for logistics.
Furthermore, polymers are perfect for moving parts in a computer machine, especially those built for automated manufacturing. The use of low-friction polymers may also extend the lifespan of computing devices even if used on a regular basis. It also helps that they are cheaper than the scarce metals.
Easy to Manipulate
The tech is industry is all about chasing innovation whenever possible. Samsung has just introduced smartphones you can fold and flip. Xiaomi has teased a flexible screen — one that you can completely roll around without affecting the display. With the right additives, companies can create the most suitable polymeric materials for their future endeavours.
The fact that you can create transparent sheets out of polymers makes them alluring to computer companies. After all, there are people who prefer transparent components that allow them to see all the circuitry in their devices. Thus, polymers help companies build products their customers can personalise.
Overall, the future of polymeric materials in the field of digital tech is bright. It’s only a matter of time before a startup or research organisation develops the next in-demand polymer for next-generation computers.