Innovating with Samsung – From water damaged to waterproof

A foldable smartphone, folded in two different positions.

Dow’s new sealant technology was made possible through embracing the importance of functional technology as a critical component to everyday innovation.

At Dow, our partnerships are paramount to new innovations that drive creative thinking, uncover new approaches and set new, higher standards. As consumers demand more from everyday technology – better functions, increased efficiency and longer-lasting products – Team Dow continues to work with partners such as Samsung to Imagine Better in every space, including mobile phones.

In fact, the Samsung – Dow partnership goes back nearly a decade, during which time new phone technology has advanced at hyper speed. Beginning in 2013, Dow and Samsung began developing waterproofing solutions that help make the window bonding and the USB connector encapsulant on Samsung phones waterproof. Through collaboration, using Dow’s silicone sealant solutions, this milestone innovation has allowed Samsung to take a huge step forward, providing a new, key function customers wanted.

Fast forward to 2021 and Samsung’s foldable phone. Our team was presented with a new challenge – the waterproofing sealant used on previous phones could not properly protect against the new foldable design. Instead of the typical sealant tape, our Dow teams devised a unique solution to apply a sealant with the flexibility to fold while still protecting the device and its features. This impressive progress places Dow at the forefront of the innovation for display technology, helping create the first waterproof foldable phone and, by extension, creating immense opportunity for what can be done in the future.

Since launching the foldable phone, Dow and Samsung have continued to work closely, constantly looking for improvements with an eye to the big picture. Right now, Dow’s product and manufacturing engineer teams are working on the next new design in smartphone technology. The technology developed for the Samsung foldable phone is just the first step in enabling freedom of design – where we can apply the same concept of flexible, sealant silicones to other products, from flexible displays in wearables to home appliances. After all, we have 125 years of experience in enabling innovation, and what comes next is grounded in applying our successes to the next big challenge.

An added bonus – waterproofing enables greater sustainability

Not only has innovative thinking helped cement Samsung as a leader in pushing the boundaries in the mobile device industry, it has also contributed to a world with less waste. Waterproofing helps prevent phones from being discarded because of water damage, and Dow’s partnership with Samsung has helped keep phones out of landfills.

In addition, the sealant technology can be easily detached and de-bonded, which helps enable recycling efforts to dispose and reuse certain elements of the devices. Through this work, Dow’s technology is playing a positive role, enabling a longer shelf life for electronic devices.

Advancing functional technology

Revolutionary design in electronics and consumer devices continues to evolve and push the industry forward. Dow’s new sealant technology was made possible through embracing the importance of functional technology as a critical component to everyday innovation. Whatever we develop, optimize or modify must be functional at its core. The mobile device is constantly evolving, with new smartphone releases every six months, so maintaining a focus on the core components to enable functionality is essential to our agility, resiliency and success. It’s through projects such as this that we, as Team Dow, are challenging the status quo to Imagine Better and advance our purpose to deliver a sustainable future for the world through our materials science expertise and collaboration with our partners.

Moon Cho, Commercial Director, Dow Consumer Solutions, South Korea