New Carbon Cell Phone: Lighter Than a Bag of Chips

by Shrutee K

Innovation made in Germany: Making its debut on the market this March is a carbon fiber cell phone that sets new standards for lightness, slim design and sustainability: the "Carbon 1 Mark II" from Berlin-based start-up Carbon Mobile. This is made possible by the Tepex composite from LANXESS.

The “Carbon 1 Mark II” of Carbon Mobile is the world’s first smartphone to be manufactured using carbon fiber technology. The base material for the innovative housing is a thermoplastic composite from the Tepex dynalite product range. It is reinforced with a web of incredibly fine 1K continuous carbon fiber filaments.

“Our composite material, which we developed for extremely lightweight designs for components subject to considerable stress, does more than just allow exceptionally thin wall thicknesses. In fact, with its high degree of strength and rigidity, it also helps to make the housing very robust for day-to-day use.” Philipp Genders, Tepex expert in application development at LANXESS

The new phone made of carbon is characterized by:

·         its light weight of 125 g,

·         its thickness of only 6.3 mm,

·         its sustainability. Achieved through the use of recyclable materials wherever possible.

Why the phone is lighter than a bag of potato chips

Following the same principle as the load-bearing chassis of a Formula 1 car, the housing is designed as a monocoque, or “single shell.” As a result, it makes optimized use of the extreme rigidity of the carbon composite material. This is a major part of what makes wall thicknesses so thin and the smartphone itself so light – because the inside of the housing does not require bulky, space-consuming reinforcements. It also allows components to be downsized while retaining full functionality.

Carbon fiber – an innovative material

Until now, carbon fiber has not been used in smartphone production. The carbon contained in carbon fiber shields from radio waves and traps heat. That’s why Apple, Samsung and co. have relied on aluminum, plastic, and glass so far. The disadvantage is that these materials are thick and heavy.

So the experts at Carbon Mobile had to do plenty of tinkering in order to use carbon fiber. After four years of research, they found the solution: HyRECM technology. The patented HyRECM (Hybrid Radio Enabled Composite Material) technology combines carbon fibers and an associated composite material that allows radio frequency signals to pass through.

To further enhance device connectivity, a special 3D printing of electrographic ink is integrated into the carbon fiber structure. The result is a “wireless” carbon fiber-based material. The new technology is being used for the first time in the "Carbon 1 MK II". This technology means that less than five percent is made of plastic – another reason to be pleased!

Working toward a world with less electronic waste

The new smartphone uses only recyclable materials wherever possible. “We want that to be our contribution to cutting electronic waste and improving sustainability around the world” says Firas Khalifeh, CEO of Carbon Mobile GmbH.

The composite material used for the housing can also be easily recycled. “Like all products in the Tepex dynalite product line, it can be shredded and then processed on standard injection-molding machines to make high-quality components, either by itself or mixed with suitable new material,” explained Genders.

To extend the service life of the smartphone, all its components are designed to be easily replaceable for repair purposes. This also prevents electronic waste from being created.


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