Singapore – The “booming” wearable electronics industry is increasingly turning to thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) materials for soft straps, according to Royal DSM – citing Samsung’s selection of its Arnitel TPE for the new Galaxy Gear S2 smartwatch as the latest in growing list of applications in this space.
By 2020, annual sales of wearable electronics are expected grow to 200 million devices, with smart watches and activity trackers taking the largest share of the market, DSM said in a 30 March release.
The main requirements for the materials used in the devices and straps include comfort, colour, and how the product feels on the skin, the materials company explained.
According to DSM, Samsung chose its Arnitel compound for the Galaxy Gear S2 strap for its good balance of physical and chemical properties as well as its soft touch and feel. The materials is also certified to USP and ISO standards covering biocompatibility of devices.
Another selling point was resistance to UV as well as to perspiration and other oils and liquids that the watch strap can come into contact with during use.
The TPE material is said to be easy to process via injection moulding, and can be used in overmoulded structures with other thermoplastics such as polycarbonate, ABS and thermoplastic polyesters.
Arnitel, claims DSM, scores over rival materials such as thermoplastic polyurethanes and thermoset silicone elastomers also in terms of sustainability: it is free of any halogen, red phosphorous or fluoropolymers and is fully recyclable.
“This is in particularly important for OEMs and manufacturer targeting consumers with a strong awareness of their environmental footprint,” said Fredric Petit, global business director Arnitel.
Meanwhile, DSM has, for the first time ever, introduced fragrances into the wearables market: Arnitel is available in different scents, such as lemon and rose, enabling OEMs to provide their customers with an additional sensorial experience.
Arnitel is more than a standard high performance material providing a technical solution, according to Eric Choi, account manager with DSM in Korea.
“At the important interface in direct contact with consumers it provides a complete package of high performance, good design, excellent touch and feel, and now a great smell too,” he said.