Above and beyond all the things Apple is known for, it’s there exploration of new materials to use for their consumer hardware that has impressed me the most. While most companies are still using black shiny finger print magnet plastic for their products, Apple has switched nearly their entire lineup to devices made out of glass and aluminum. A new patent that has recently surfaced, and was discovered by Apple Insider points to a possible future where Apple may have a portfolio of devices made out of stainless steel, but with a coating of nitride on top to make them scratch proof.
“In addition to providing a durable, hard surface that is both scratch and impact resistant, the nitride layer allows for the natural surface color and texture of the underlying stainless steel to remain visible to the user,” says the patent. “It is this natural surface color and texture of the stainless steel that adds to the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the consumer electronic product, thereby enhancing the user’s overall experience.”
The document continues to say that the layer of nitride would be 15 microns thick and carry a Vickers Hardness value of at least 1,000. For reference sake, the value of titanium is 970, so we’re talking super space age materials here. The patent was filed in April of this year by Douglas Weber, and if it means less plastic in my toys, then I’m happy. Steel is cheaper to make than aluminum, and easier to machine too. Just ask all the specialty bike shops in Italy who make wares for the guys who ride in Tour de France. Back to Apple, if you take this patent, and also consider the agreement entered into with Liquidmetal Technologies earlier this year, it’s not that hard to see that the company is interested in moving towards making everything they can out of some sort of metal.