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After Apple Watch, patent describes titanium MacBook, iPhone, and iPad

Apple already makes a titanium Apple Watch, but a patent granted today could pave the way for titanium MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones too.

The patent describes how Apple could overcome the challenge of giving titanium an aesthetically pleasing finish, and follows a patent granted last month regarding a method of making a true matte black MacBook

Unlike the previous patent, however, Apple’s concern here is how to give a naturally matte material a semi-gloss finish.

Portable electronic devices can include various operational components (e.g., display, processor, antenna, etc.). Enclosures for these portable electronic devices can be formed of various metals (e.g., anodized aluminum, etc.) having a high amount of strength and stiffness to protect these operational components. Additionally, it is preferable to process these enclosures such as to impart these enclosures with an attractive surface finish. However, specific types of metals, although having a high amount of strength and stiffness, are also difficult to process to impart an attractive surface finish. Accordingly, there is a need to implement techniques for processing these specific types of metals […]

This paper describes various embodiments that relate generally to techniques for etching a titanium part. More particularly, the described embodiments relate to systems and methods for restoring gloss finish of the etched titanium part.

The patent is a technical one, dealing with the process of combining blasting and etching with a chemical anodization process in order to achieve the desired finish. Apple says that the former is better at hiding flaws in the metal, while the latter offers better protection.

The fine-scale roughness of the etched titanium part and the blasted and etched titanium part is beneficial for hiding surface defects, such as weld lines and crystallographic grain structure differences. In contrast, only blasting a titanium part in a conventional manner fails to impart benefits like hiding weld lines.

According to some examples, it may be preferable to utilize a combination of an etching and blasting process while anodizing the titanium part. In particular, the anodized layer of an etched and blasted titanium part may be protected from chemical (e.g., fingerprint oils) and mechanical removal (e.g., rubbing against objects) due to the anodized layer being recessed and submerged within the valleys of the textured surface of the anodized part that has been etched and blasted.

Titanium is heavier than aluminum, but is so much stronger that you can use a far thinner piece to achieve the same strength and stiffness. The net result is that a titanium casing would be lighter than an aluminum one.

Via Patently Apple. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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