Back in February, we wrote that Apple had officially joined the Wireless Power Consortium and was likely to adopt a Qi inductive coupling method in this year’s iPhone designs. Information from chassis manufacturers now suggests that there will be a complementary technology on the chassis side called physical direct connection (PDC) that will reduce signal interference with wireless charging induction coils and help improve chassis yield rates and costs.
The idea behind PDC technology is to etch nanometer-sized holes into glass, metal or ceramic materials, and then use an injection method to laminate them with plastic parts. Traditionally, the lamination process for chassis designs has been marked by low yield rates and high costs. Now, chassis makers are optimistic that PDC technology can improve both these factors along with overall induction capacity from charger to phone. The traditional laminating process for glass and ceramic phones has been cited with a yield rate of 65 to 70 percent. With PDC, yields are expected to reach between 90 to 92 percent.
Vendors to adopt glass and ceramic chassis designs
Over the next few years, the push for the nanometer-sized etching process will probably prompt vendors to adopt glass or ceramic-based chassis designs instead of traditional metal. This will not only be for signal improvement, but also to satisfy customer demand. One reason why Samsung’s Galaxy S7 lineup features a glass back panel is to allow electrical current to travel from the charging station, through the chassis, and into the underlying charging coil. The PDC approach will use a laminating method based on chemicals that can be used with plastic parts, allowing manufacturers to improve yield rates and lower overall costs. Already, manufacturers in Taiwan, China, Japan and the US have shown interest in adopting the new technology - mostly in a race to improve chassis yields rates. Apple is expected to have some influence in the overall market size for PDC adoption once the first tranche of iPhone shipments begins later in the fall.