Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple Patent Reveals Method of Attaching Sapphire Cover Glass to iPhone

Apple’s Patent – Ceramic Cover for Electronic Device Housing

It has been reported that though Apple had not introduced the rumoured sapphire displays with its updated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones the company is working hard in bringing about a solution for the future according to the latest Apple patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which describes methods of attaching sapphire cover glass to the iPhone.

 Though the patent focuses on attachment methods, it does not indicate potential use of sapphire in electronic devices. The patent describes the use of either sapphire or zirconia which has been titled `Ceramic cover for electronic device housing’, both in crystalline type, to obtain appropriate transparency levels.

 Past inventions of Apple’s dealing with sapphire usually dealt with material production, and the ceramic cover housing patent explains in details the methods of fixing the ceramic cover housing on the handset indicating that instead of using adhesives which add extra thickness to the overall build, an attachment like mortise and tenon joints could be used.

In a single embodiment , the laser ablation technique has been adopted to carve out recesses in a sheet of sapphire which is specified between -.3 mm and 1.0 mm in thickness and a jet of fluid enables it to cool the material carrying away ablated ceramic which could resettle into a freshly cut recess.

Need for Specific Embodiments

Fixing the sapphire to the device housing requires Apple’s usual shock resistant thermoplastic peripheral side members, the thin black buffer zone which is seen on all iPhone and iPad model. Specific embodiments is needed for the peripheral material to hold the housing, the similar design seen in iPhone 6 while others look to cover areas which would remain exposed like the iPhone 4 and 4S.

The sapphire cover has dovetail recesses ablated into it while corresponding angled tenons are integrated together with the peripheral side member and when joined or moulded together in some cases, the components tend to create mechanical interlock providing substantial gap free construction. The peripheral member is made of a ceramic strengthen composite probably using ceramic fibres or particles mixed with polymers wherein these peripheral bodies could be disposed in one or two layers.

Patent Application – Inventor, Kelvin Kwong

Detailed in its patent filing the tech giant company is sinking assets in its sapphire display cover for its flagship smartphone product line. As per the invention, the use of sapphire or zirconia in crystalline form is used though Apple is likely to use sapphire, keeping in mind bet on the material with failed $578 million investment in GT Advanced.

The patent also gives further details with regards to alternative processes in achieving largely a similar design together with moulding techniques, secondary designs and exemplary implementation. Credits of its sapphire iPhone cover patent application go to Kelvin Kwong as its inventor which was first filed for in May 2013.

As with all Apple’s patents and it application, it is yet unknown when and if the said technology indicated would be making its way to the final product. We could wait for more updates coming from these quarters.

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