Polycarbonate device housing failed in 3-4 months


Increasing use of polycarbonates in handheld electronic devices is creating a new problem in hospital environments--environmental stress cracking caused by repeated use of disinfectants.

"While these materials are generally tough, certain chemical environments can contribute to catastrophic brittle failure at relatively low stress levels," according to a research paper presented at ANTEC in Cincinnati last month by Exponent, a failure analysis consulting firm based in Menlo Park, CA.

The purpose of the paper was to illustrate the susceptibility of PC to certain hospital disinfectant chemicals and to provide a practical example of stress cracking in the PC housing of a handheld medical device. Strategies for dealing with problem were also reviewed.

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