On some Design News message boards, we've discussed how great it would be if consumer electronics like smartphones and tablets were rougher and tougher. What if you could actually drop one into the sink by accident, or into your plate of spaghetti sauce, and no harm would be done?
A nanoscale coating that's now being applied to some smartphones will let you do that (though we don't recommend it). Aridion, developed by P2i, is used by Motorola on its RAZR and XOOM phones, and by Alcatel on its One Touch phones. About 30nm thick, or 1,000 times as thin as a human hair, the hydrophobic polymer coating is applied to completed products at the end of the manufacturing process. It coats exterior surfaces, ports, and even interior components, protecting them against liquids and stains, according to a P2i video, which you can watch below.
The coating, based on perfluorinated carbon compounds, is applied via a plasma-enhanced vapor deposition process that lays it down on all of the device's internal and external surfaces. The process takes place under low pressure in a vacuum chamber at room temperature.
The vaporized polymer bonds at the molecular level to materials, reducing corrosion and water damage. The polymer layer reduces surface energy, so instead of being attracted and spreading out on the device's surface, water and other liquids bead up and roll off.
UK-based P2i has developed a waterproof nano-coating that protects smartphones such as the Alcatel One Touch, and Motorola's RAZR and XOOM. We think the company should develop the technology for consumers who want to apply it to the devices they already own. (Source: P2i)
According to P2i, Aridion does not affect conductivity or the functioning of components, and is so thin that it doesn't change the product's look and feel. Since the coating becomes an inseparable part of the material it bonds to, it is as durable as the materials it protects. No solvents are used in the application process, which consumes only tiny amounts of the protective monomer.
The first commercial application for electronics was coating hearing aids. The company says the coating can be applied to a wide variety of materials, including fabrics, polymers, metals, ceramics, glass, leather, and paper, as well as objects made of multiple materials, such as smartphones and tablets.
Another version of the coating, ion-mask, is used on shoes and clothing. The technology was originally developed during UK defense research projects. In that research, the aim was to protect soldiers' clothing from chemical weapons.
The videos on the company's website showing liquid rolling off are pretty impressive. I think P2i should try to figure out how to apply this coating to existing electronic devices, presumably while they're still new. Places like Kinkos could buy one of the chambers and offer a retrofitting service for electronics that haven't already been protected.
Ummm, substantially more expensive than any piece of equipment Kinko's currently has, Maybe one per major city.
And I believe the major components have to be treated prior to assembly for the process to be effective. Given the difficulty of disassembling a cellphone (especially an iPhone, designed to be difficult), this doesn't seem like a starter.
But it might be an interesting device to have in a community "maker shop."
This already exists. LiquiPel does it and they are in the process of opening mall kiosks. This would not necessarily be prohibitively expensive if it is priced as an add-on with a reduction in the cost of insurance or a reduced deductible.
Sorry 3drob, this was not meant as an ad---I actually tried this on my niece's phone and I meant it to be a reply regarding apresher's comments about the cost prohibition in commercial cell phones---he's right, so only spend the extra money after the fact if your phone gets wet.
Actually, it depends on what brand you get. Careful shoppers look at the water-resistant Lenovo products. The keyboards even include special gutters to deflect the water from internal parts. Google and YouTube are your friends here. Some of the techniques have been patented.
Immersion damage? A much more interesting result would be if this process were found to be effective against the growth of tin whiskers, , the guaranteed-to-fail manufacturing process using lead-free solder foisted upon us by non-technical do-gooder Europeans.
If this process were found to be effective against the growth of tin whiskers, we could suddenly have phones and cameras that would again last longer than three years and cars that would not suddenly engage in fatal wide-open-throttle acceleration.
Bheestie Bags is a revolutionary device that can actually save electronics from water and moisture damage and they just released a brand new larger bag! Whether it's an accidental spill on your iPad or the device was exposed to moisture - this is the ultimate solution. Just turn off the device, wipe off any visible moisture, place electronic in bag, zip tight and let Bheestie Bag work its magic! For extreme water exposure, wait 48-72 hours. The powerful water absorbing beads physically bond and removing the water, proven to be 700 times more effective than home remedies. The bag can last up to a year for everyday use or less if used for extreme soaking. http://www.bheestie.com/Dry_My_Wet_Phone.html
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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