The Raw Materials Used to Make Mobile Phones


So many electronic goods are used today. Cellphones are made up a major chunk of these, and about 1.5 billion phones are sold each year. Other electronics that are mass-produced and widely used include laptops and other computers, tablets, and televisions. These devices are made up of many different materials from all over the world. Precision is needed to craft all the miniature pieces and put them together to produce a working phone that can be used to communicate.

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Glass

For mobile phones to function, there are a lot of different steps that must be taken. These devices are made of many different materials including plastic, glass, and metals as the major classes.

The glass in a mobile phone is easily visible. It makes up the outer screen and display. This glass performs a very important role and must possess unique properties for this. The glass is made up of primarily two compounds, which are aluminum oxide and silicon dioxide. There is also a very thin layer of indium tin oxide. This layer allows the user to handle and touch the screen without causing harm to the glass underneath.

Many smartphone companies such as Motorola, Samsung, and Nokia make use of Gorilla Glass. This is a unique thin and lightweight toughened glass that is manufactured by Corning. Another material, known as Sapphire, is now emerging as a possible competitor in this space. Sapphire is already used by Apple to produce additional protection to the camera. This material is made from aluminum oxide. In the future, it could take the place of glass in some smartphones. It has valuable properties and is three times harder than Gorilla Glass according to an MIT Technology Review.

Metals

Metals have many different properties that are crucial for electronic devices and telecommunication. There are many metals in mobile phones, each performing a unique function. Aluminum alloys are the most common metal compound. These lightweight materials are usually used in the phone case. Another metal compound is lithium cobalt oxide. This is used in the manufacturing of batteries, alongside the compound carbon graphite. Other metals such as gold, copper, and silver find their use the phone wiring. In the mobile phone’s circuits, metals such as platinum and tungsten are used.

About 97% of the rare metals are mined in China. Rare materials, as they are classed on the periodic table, help to harden the glass of the mobile phone. Examples of rare metals are praseodymium and dysprosium. Besides hardening the glass, they are also used for making the magnets, speakers, and motor components that are important parts of a mobile phone.

Plastic

The third material commonly found in your mobile phone is plastic. This may be used in the case instead of metal. The plastic helps to make the mobile phone more resistant to damage and provides some shock absorption when the phone is dropped, which happens more often than it should. Plastic, as a cheaper material, is thus able to provide protection of our valuable devices. Plastic is also a poor conductor of heat compared to metals, which are very good conductors of heat. This means that the plastic makes the phone less dependent on extreme temperature changes.

Electronics and the Environment

The electronics industry continues to manufacture billions of brand new devices every year, but this is not without its own effects on the environment. Mining, manufacturing, and disposal, when not monitored carefully, can cause pollution and other negative impacts. Measures being used to curb these include phone recycling. To keep old devices out of landfills, reuse, recycling, and returning to the manufacturers are all important.

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