HTC using new NMT metal/plastic fusion for super-slim smartphones?

Future HTC smartphones could be thinner, more lightweight and paradoxically stronger, if rumors about the company's manufacturing processes are true. The company has turned to Chenming Mold Industrial (CMI) and Nano Molding Technology (NMT), DigiTimes reports, for a new smartphone; NMT is a system of injecting plastic components directly onto a metal shell, reducing overlap thickness in the process.

The back panel on HTC's Sensation – pictured above – shows the current system of construction. A CNC lathed metal case is combined with plastic sections, the various panels slotting and latching against each other in order to make a solid whole. The plastic components allow the antennas to do their job as well as permitting more flexibility in molding, but the construction itself makes for a thick sandwich of materials that introduces weight, bulk and cost.

In contrast, NMT first etches the surface of the metal and then injects the plastic against it, meaning the plastic mounting points and other components could be applied directly to the shell. It's not just the battery cover, either; any part of the phone where metal meets plastic could benefit from the NMT process, such as the fascia and bezel.

HTC has increasingly looked to new manufacturing processes to distinguish the industrial design of its range; the HTC Legend was one of the first smartphones to use a "unibody" style metal casing CNC crafted from a solid block of aluminum, for instance. Although CMI isn't confirming that HTC is a customer, it has said that "several first-tier handset vendors" are onboard and that its mass production will kick off in July. We could see a super-slimline metal HTC – perhaps delivering the wafer-thinness of the Samsung Galaxy S II with the sturdy, reassuring build of the Sensation – sometime soon after that.