03 December 2013
Just about everyone has a mobile phone these days, even children aged eight years old or younger. Making a mere call on a mobile is just one of its minority uses. Texts, games, social networks, navigations, restaurant reservations and parking permits are becoming more frequent applications. So where does this magic device come from?
Raw material supply
Like any other object, mobile phone manufacture starts with raw materials. On average, a mobile is about 40 percent metal, 40 percent plastic and 20 percent ceramics and other trace substances. These materials are used differently in the phone's components:
The circuit board, the phone's brain, uses copper, gold, lead, nickel, beryllium, tantalum and cobalt.
The liquid display that produces messages and images uses mercury together with rare earth metals such as indium as well as glass and plastic
The rechargeable battery that powers the phone is made of any combination of nickel, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, lead acid, carbon and lithium.
The manufacturing process starts by gathering the raw materials.
Metal ore is mined and processed in smelting plants to make metal and alloy sheets and wires.
Crude oil and natural gas from the ground are processed in refineries to produce plastics.
Ceramics are manufactured by grinding down products such as alumina (aluminium oxide), boron and even common quartz sand and limestone to a fine powder. These are mixed with other trace ingredients such as the rare metals tantalum and indium with some cobalt, nickel and beryllium, compacted into shape and then sintered, or fired, to about 250 degrees Celsius to produce the final ceramic article. These articles may be component parts of the circuit board or display screen.
Each of the phone's components are created separately and later assembled.
The casing— it could be a standard sized case or a special design for custom phone cases -- is shaped and made from injection moulded plastics. If you like the shape but not the colour, you can create your own phone case cover in the colour you prefer.
The circuit board is made of plastic and fibreglass and cut to fit into the casing. The circuit components are made of ceramic materials and are attached to the board by soldering with mostly copper wire for most of the circuit, but also gold wire for the electrical contacts.
The liquid crystal display is a mixture of mercury and trace materials like indium or aluminium zinc oxide that is sandwiched between two pieces of glass. This creates the phone's screen.
Batteries are made by placing electrolytes such as cadmium and lithium compounds with lead acid inside a sealed container. The chemical reaction between these substances creates a current between two electrodes that are attached on the outside of the container.
Additional metal components such as microphone, speaker and antenna are attached inside the case. The keypad, usually plastic for a non touch screen phone, is attached for use outside the case. The device is closed up leaving room and electrical contacts for the battery. Once the battery is inside the phone case, the device can be switched on by pressing a button or pointer on the screen that brings the electrodes in contact with the circuit board. Once the current is running, the phone can be used.
What's your go to random fact?
Kimberley Rogers on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 · Leave a Comment