GE Plastics sees a chance to obtain 30 percent of the notebook computer housings market by convincing manufacturers to switch to conductively filled resins.
That market share would represent about 10 million pounds of resin and additional annual sales of about $50 million beginning in 2000, said Marilyn Lye, GE Plastics market development manager in Pittsfield, Mass.
GE Plastics wants computer makers to use high-flow, carbon-filled Lexan polycarbonate to shield equipment from electro-mechanical interference without the traditional need for a metal liner or copper paint.
Two notebook computer makers have worked to validate the effectiveness of the material through GE Plastics' Operation Fulcrum project. The unidentified manufacturers placed notebook computer electronics into Lexan housings processed in an existing tool.
``The notebook computers met all [original equipment manufacturers] shielding design requirements and pre-compliance evaluations,'' said David Markham, a senior engineer in electronics programs at GE Plastics' Pittsfield headquarters.
The companies found the change can achieve both material cost and productivity savings.
``The material in one case is undergoing further evaluation for a new platform, and the other is a candidate,'' Markham said.
An earlier Nomad primary-research project focused on design issues involving desktop computers.
GE Plastics found the large computer OEMs receptive, especially if GE can assist in figuring out the challenges in notebooks, said Tom Hablitzel, GE's regional marketing director in Pleasanton, Calif., and a link with the computer firms. ``Fulcrum is a way to package the challenges and sell our capability as a company.''
Polymer Solutions Inc., a Pittsfield-based joint venture of GE Plastics and a unit of London-based industrial design firm Fitch plc, drew some findings from the research:
Most notebook computers may be overshielded, adding parts and cost. Conductive resins can provide an adequate shield in an integrated enclosure.
Passive devices can be a cost-effective means of cooling the central processing unit. The best solutions combine passive devices with fan cooling.
Thin-wall technology works with advanced processes such as sequential valve gating and predictive engineering.