Smartphone Wars May Bring Increased Need for Sapphire and Aluminum Soldering Solutions

Smartphone GlassSapphire crystals play a key role in protecting various electronics from environmental conditions, as the material is one of the most scratch-resistant available. In fact, the latest Apple smartphone, the iPhone 5S uses it as protection both for the camera lens as well as the fingerprint scanner that is now incorporated into the front face.

It has been posited that Apple might use the crystal, synthetically produced, for the screen of the iPhone 6. The crystal is even stronger and more resistant to strikes than Corning’s Gorilla Glass, currently the standard for smartphones from a variety of manufacturers. One key concern is cost, and an Apple partner has reportedly streamlined the process. With phones and other products, another key is aluminum soldering or joining sapphire to other materials.

While many companies make electronics relatively easy to take apart to make repairs and replace components, the tech giant has a history of making closed systems. If that is the case, then joining the screen to the frame of the case could improve rigidity and limit deformation from falls or other accidents. Perhaps more importantly, any reduction in the price of sapphire display screens could spur its usage in other industries.

As noted above, phone makers already take advantage of the material to protect camera lenses, yet it is also commonly used in the production of lasers and in high-risk environments for sensor arrays, such as on oil rigs or for equipment that must take the brunt of sand, wind and other things that can degrade surfaces relatively quickly. If GT Advanced Technologies can decrease the costs of production, it stands as a material nearly as scratch-resistant as synthetic diamonds and far superior to

This will improve opportunities to make stronger electronics, but at the same time engineers will need to consider aluminum soldering options and other joining materials that can be used in low-temperature processes. Otherwise, they will be limited in designs based on differences in coefficients of thermal expansion between materials.

The report is available on the possibility of sapphire crystal production used in the upcoming iPhone 6.

Aluminum Soldering and Alloys, Ceramics Driving Auto Industry in Two Ways

Mechanic Working On CarAutomotive enthusiasts and new car buyers are used to seeing reviewers talk about ceramic brakes in high-performance sports cars. Due to their thermal properties, these brakes provide improved performance. However, they aren’t just in high-performance cars anymore. A new industry review indicates that ceramic pads now represent about 60 percent of the market.

Improvements in soldering will be important in the development of performance brake pads. Molded metal shims help minimize wobble and improve clamping ability by keeping more of the pad in contact with the rest of the assembly. However, less expensive pads may only include tape to attach these, so people who expect quality may look to see integrated shims, a design goal which can be accomplished with aluminum soldering. (more…)

3D Printing, Masking, and Aluminum Soldering

3D Printed Circuit Board3D printing seems to grow ever more popular year by year. Research and development into this field is growing at a rapid pace and expanding into new frontiers. While it is most commonly used for plastics and prototyping, some companies have been expanding the applications to include solder masking. One manufacturer seems to have made a significant advance with the use of imprint lithography to affix transistors to substrates. One offshoot of that may be the necessity for joining dissimilar materials using techniques such as aluminum soldering. (more…)

Battery Technology: Why Honda Wants to Come Home With You

Electric Car On RoadAutomakers are often seen as one of the biggest innovators in improving battery technology in order to help improve the efficiency of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. However, they are also looking at solutions for homeowners who are trying to go green, and this research could mean an increase in the need for aluminum soldering.

Honda has been showing off an experimental house they built with the help of the University of California, Davis, according to a New York Times report. They want to integrate the batteries used in electric vehicles into the home’s mini-power grid for a very important purpose: storing energy developed from solar panels or other renewable energy sources.

They are “part of a larger energy system [now], and I think the greatest opportunity for automakers is figuring out how their vehicles become part of that system,” the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies director told the newspaper. Honda, Ford, Tesla and other companies envision the vehicles as energy storage sources along with other battery-based systems.

This is important because in the overwhelming number of cases, solar panels generate more electricity than most homes need at the time, so the power goes back to the local utility which “buys” it from the homeowner in the form of a rebate on their monthly bill. This can be problematic because homeowners cannot control their own supply or choose what to do with it based on differences in price.

Batteries in both cars and homes make a certain amount of sense and the Honda example includes a 10 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. For reference, a federal agency found that in 2012 that the Mid-Atlantic states consumed 701 kWh per month. Batteries in the home like this could give homeowners additional options for their power usage needs. Better battery technology will play a huge role in this, but the technology isn’t there yet. This is where aluminum soldering comes into play.

Joining dissimilar materials is a key part of making better, longer-lasting batteries with the aid of various alloys and in some cases ceramics. Aluminum solder allows these materials to be joined at a lower temperature, opening up more possibilities for researchers and engineers. The home of the future may have its own battery, but it would be more beneficial if the capacity was larger than a few hours of the average day in the Mid-Atlantic States.

For more information on the Honda Smart Home project and related efforts, the original New York Times piece is available.


Small-Scale Engineering Benefits From Aluminum Soldering

Aluminum BondingThe growth in unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, is still mainly in the military sector but with the announcement by Amazon.com head Jeff Bezos that deliveries may come from these devices, there is an increasing emphasis on their usage in private applications. To that end, aluminum soldering and other techniques will be necessary to reach their goals.

One person who is at the forefront of this industry is a former magazine editor, Chris Anderson. He told Popular Mechanics recently that the advent of tools commonly the domain of large-scale electronics manufacturer has enabled smaller outfits to achieve similar results, at least early in the prototyping stages. His company takes advantage of the widespread availability of computer-aided drawing and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software to work on projects before they even take form. (more…)

Aluminum Soldering Plays Key Role in NASA’s Mars Missions

Mars probe uses advanced aluminum soldering

While everyone was watching the Mars Curiosity Rover as it landed delicately on the surface of the red planet and explored its surroundings, other NASA projects have focused on analyzing the atmosphere and obtaining other data. Without aluminum soldering as part of creating composite structures, none of that would be possible.

MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) will not reach its expected orbit around Mars until September, but it is already an example of the efforts to create long-lasting chassis to handle rough landings and other extreme conditions. The frame is made of aluminum sheeting with composite materials in between the metal materials and is based on advancements of joining these materials pioneered by the supercar industry to improve safety of drivers and their passengers. (more…)

Copper Pricing and Why Metal Joining Could Be Affected

Raw materials costs can quickly make it difficult for companies to maintain their profit Sonic Solder-Bonding Dissimilar Materialsmargins on a given product. At a time when copper prices have been steadily increasing, it may make sense for firms to look at other materials. Yet to do so, they may also need to consider alternatives to achieve dissimilar materials joining.

Companies in China are moving from using copper in cabling to using aluminum, a Metal Bulletin report indicates, where just 10 percent of total production uses the metal compared to roughly 50 percent in the U.S. and even more in other developed countries. The rationale is that the cables can be priced 20 to 30 percent cheaper due to the decrease in material costs. Similar moves are occurring throughout the electronics industry. Yet without the use of specific metal solders to join materials, adapting designs can be extremely difficult.


Using Carbon Fiber For High-Tech Vehicles Increases Need for Bonding Dissimilar Material Solutions

While high-priced super cars are the biggest beneficiaries of advances in the use of Sonic Solder-Bonding Dissimilar Materialslightweight carbon-fiber, car companies are looking to find weight savings across their model lines. As they do so, efforts to find effective bonding solutions for dissimilar materials will become critical.

Recent discussions by automotive engineers and composite material makers at automotive conferences focus on the difficulties in managing disparate thermal expansion rates where aluminum expands at a much higher rate than carbon fiber. There are even slight differences between mild steel and fiberglass options that can impact the construction process.


Skyrocketing LED Market Will Require Extensive Lead-Free Solder Development

A recent market research report estimates that the solid-state lighting market that produces light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will reach roughly $57 billion by 2018 as a result of consistent double digit growth. While the industry has made significant inroads in the commercial sector, further developments in design using disparate materials joining will be necessary to make an impact in the residential lighting field.

By January 1, 2014, nearly every incandescent light bulb will be off the market due to federal regulations. The current standard is compact fluorescent bulbs, but LED light bulbs are also making inroads. Currently, companies like Cree and Philips subsidiary offer luminaires that look like light bulbs, but the cost savings require homeowners to have them installed for years. The goal to reduce costs will rely in part on Haitz’s Law but moreover on improved product designs with the use of lead-free solder.

Haitz’s Law is a formula estimating that the cost per lumen, or light output will be one-tenth of what it was a decade earlier, while output will jump a similar amount. However, the designs of standard and organic LEDs (OLEDs) require large heat sinks in order to dissipate heat at the junction where light is created.

New solder materials and developments in the technology will likely reduce these requirements, but this must be done relatively quickly in order to meet the Markets target of 25 percent compounded annual growth for OLEDs. Competition is already fierce for applications like TVs, commercial lighting for storage facilities and parking lots as well as backlighting applications.

The last market that will be up for grabs for is both low-cost lighting assistance for screens as well as light bulb replacement options as the cost approaches that of compact fluorescent bulbs and families are unable to buy incandescent bulbs. Innovations are likely to come both from efforts to lower costs of industrial applications as well as work on shrinking backlighting for consumer electronics.

For more information on the Markets for Markets research, visit http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/solid-state-lighting-market-1234.html

Fracking Successes Don’t Diminish Alternative Energy Opportunities

At a time when the U.S. Energy Information Administration has announced significant growth in total natural gas and oil production, it may seem like there are fewer opportunities for alternative energy projects in the United States. However, if companies that produce batteries can improve storage capacity and lifetime for their products, the incentives for companies to develop wind, solar and other energy generation alternatives will be much greater.

Over the past five years, petroleum energy source production has increased by about 25 percent. However, concerns about the chemicals used to force out oil and gas in previously unproductive areas have also grown. Companies do not have to release the contents of their proprietary solutions. There is one major issue that companies that take advantage of solar panels and other alternative energy generation options must solve: better batteries.

Alternatiive Energy - Wind Farms In Texas and the Central Valley of California, it is easy to see massive wind farms, with turbines dotting hillsides. However, just as with wave and solar power, the energy delivery is not consistent. Turbines won’t turn on calm days, and PV panels will not develop power on cloudy days. Currently, homeowners with solar panels can “sell” excess electricity back to their utility company, but on a large scale that is not feasible.

Companies that use metal solders as part of programs to improve battery life will help make the largest leap in technology for perhaps a decade or more. Currently, advances in power management and reduced consumption electronics materials have masked the fact that battery technology has failed to keep up. Whether it is the use of new alloys, manufacturing processes or other ways to improve both capacity and lifetime, research is now placing new emphasis on materials.

To do so will make renewable energy applications like solar panels and wind turbines more feasible on a larger scale. Currently, small-scale projects include a two megawatt battery in the Orkney Islands of Britain and Duke Energy’s 36 megawatt battery for a remote wind farm in Texas, the New York Times report notes.

For more information on the growth of fracking, visit  http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20131011/OPINION01/310110002/Alternative-energy-hold-now. The New York Times piece on efforts to make renewable energy projects sustainable is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/business/energy-environment/Filling-the-Gaps-in-the-Flow-of-Renewable-Energy.html?_r=0