With Aluminum Supplies Low, Will Lightweight Laptops Opt For Fiberglass?

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The rush towards lightweight, thin laptops — the “ultrabook” spec being promoted by Intel — has resulted in a major uptick in demand for thin metal chassis. Unfortunately, much of the aluminum milling capacity is being taken up by Apple, which is relying more than ever on the material for its laptop lines. Big players like Acer and HP can’t make do with the remainder capacity of the mills, and plastic is too thick to use for these designs. What to do?

Well, according to Digitimes, they’re going for fiberglass. Yes, that fiberglass.

To be honest, my memories of fiberglass aren’t such that I would expect it on a high-end notebook. That said, the cheap corrugated panels that formed the roof of my uncle’s cabin probably aren’t quite the same material being considered for this application. The laptop makers plan to combine the latest fiberglass fabrication techniques with a plastic shell to produce something as tough and lightweight as magnesium-aluminum, but significantly cheaper. $20 could be taken right off the top, cost savings that could snowball into several times that number on the final price tag.

The real question is how will it feel? We’ll find out later this year when these fiberglass ultrabooks hit the streets.