Samsung and SGL Group enter carbon fiber venture, bye bye plastic Galaxies?

by: Chris SmithJune 24, 2013

Samsung Logo

Samsung and Germany-based SGL Group (“The Carbon Company”) on Thursday announced a “strategic partnership for carbon fiber composite materials,” with each company having a 50% stake in the new venture.

Samsung will apparently get a “stable long-term supply of carbon fiber materials” which will be used to build various products including “consumer electronics, medical services and engineering applications.” The press release specifically mentions some future products including wind blades, pressure vessels, automotive and household appliances alongside the generic “electronic products.”

As you can see, smartphones and tablets aren’t exactly part of the announcement, but we would assume such devices are included. Both Juergen Koehler, member of the Board of Management of SGL Group, and Yoosung Chung, President & CEO of Samsung Petrochemical, mentioned carbon fiber materials as options for the “digital media” markets. Is that exec code for mobile devices?

Samsung has been criticized more than once for the plastic used in various Galaxy smartphones and tablets, including the latest Galaxy S4 flagship smartphone. By choosing plastic, the company is able to produce a lot of devices in a timely manner and launch them almost at the same time in various markets – even so, the Galaxy S4 launch was delayed by insufficient stock – but not all buyers are happy with this particular design choice.



Some reports have suggested that Samsung may have been somewhat worried by flagships from competitors – particularly the aluminum unibody HTC One – and had considering replacing plastic with metal in future devices. However, those rumors have not been confirmed. The upcoming Galaxy Note 3 is not going to have a metal case, if most reports are to be believed.

Samsung has proven that it can make metal-based devices – such as the Galaxy S4 Active that was just unveiled and launched in some markets – but its future may be tied to carbon fiber considering this new partnership.

Recent reports have also revealed that Galaxy S4 demand is lower than initially estimated – either because devices like the HTC One and the Xperia Z are putting up a great fight in stores (with design potentially being one of the reasons buyers choose one of these devices) or because the initial estimates were wrong to begin with. Samsung is not worried about such reports according to recent official statements, saying that the Galaxy S4 is selling very well – and it’s probably safe to say that it’s selling a lot better than other Android devices out there.

That said, we can’t but wonder whether the partnership between Samsung and the SGL Group has anything to do with the recent advancements in mobile design, and the company’s (and our) need for better built devices. Whatever the reason for this partnership is, in case Samsung will indeed replace plastic with carbon fiber in the following years, at least for flagship devices, Galaxy device buyers will certainly be happy.

  • john

    Thank god.
    I was going to walk out the door if Samsung did something silly like aluminium.
    Jokes a side, really carbon fiber/kevlar > aluminium.

  • San Jose guy

    Funny at this late date Samsung learns “its the design, stupid!”…and…from HTC of all places. I’ve got an S2 and now comparing the S4’s plastic to HTC’s One, it just plain looks cheap.

    • OMGgary

      I want a phone made from Unobtainium and am willing willing to carve through the villages of whatever lanky blue native tribes stand in my way with my death-dealing war machines to satisfy my need to impress other hipsters!

  • YoungHermit

    Don’t disappoint us, Samsung, we want a carbon fiber Note III!

  • simpleas

    Freakin awesome, If Samsung had to let go of light durable plastic, it better be another light and durable material. Awesome.

  • ehEye

    hmmm; considering the number of electronic devices being made and sold, maybe this will justify the cost of sucking carbon out of the atmosphere to supply the manufacturers, causing a reduction in global warming;
    BUT, as usual the dark side will be all those future discarded fibre carbon phones!
    [i know we’ll just burn them….]

    • U. Torvaldsson

      Well, first there is no global warming, and second, CO2 is not causing any global warming. Adding or removing CO2 to the atmosphere has only an impact on plants, which use CO2 and Sun light for food : the more CO2, the happier plants are.

      • ehEye

        Exactly! [plants can’t overdose on heroin] so the tooth fairy will be delivering the check you were promised, right after communion.]

  • ehEye

    i wonder which requires more ‘oil’ in the recipe; plastic, or carbon fibre?

  • lil bit

    Haha, not gonna happen, you guys really do not know our bestfriend Samsung, carbon fiber phones, and from Samsung????? LOL, go get a reality check please. I would be happy to be wrong on this but I’m not.

  • Eric

    Sounds good, but I’m still waiting for ERA so that if I drop my phone it will bounce right back into my hand.

  • SeraZR™

    plastic…meh.. not much of an issue for me

    please change the design Sammy ;) :D

  • Rockwell mellow

    Why not steel?

    • MasterMuffin

      Are you serious? :)

      • Rockwell mellow


        • MasterMuffin

          Good, I thought so

  • Amine Elouakil

    unless the chassis of the phone is from carbon fiber it will be as cheap and as badly made as their current plastic phone, there is carbon fiber and carbon fiber depending on the purpose (mecanical properties) and thus quality

  • Brian Dong Min Kim

    This means on the tier 3 design on samsung phones, they will come with carbon fiber casing. I will expect alot from samsung.