Apple’s engineering and design teams have a number of inventions related to devices using a glass body or encasing devices in glass or having a glass back for wireless charging purposes used in the iPhone 8 and X. Patently Apple discovered a Euro Patent in late April about a tubular glass constructed iPhone. On Tuesday we posted a granted patent report covering an iPhone with a glass wraparound display and earlier this morning posted a report about an iPod touch or iPhone with a convex OLED display using a glass body.
Another patent application published by the US Patent & Trademark Office for Apple today is titled “Exposed Glass Article with Enhanced Stiffness for Portable Electronic Device Housing.”
Apple notes that “By way of example, and not by way of limitation, the electronic devices with transparent glass could correspond to media players, mobile phones (e.g., cellular phones), PDAs, remote controls, notebooks, tablet PCs, monitors, all in one computers and the like.”
In brief, Apple’s invention covers a transparent article, such as a transparent cover, for use as a cover glass for an electronic device, as well as methods for producing transparent articles.
The transparent article can form a part of a housing of the portable electronic device and can provide an outer surface for a portion of the housing. The transparent article can be provided over a display of portable electronic device to provide a protective outer cover over the display.
In one embodiment, the transparent article can be formed with a laminate structure.
In another embodiment, the transparent article can be formed with a ribbed structure.
In still another embodiment, a sapphire coating can be deposited on the transparent article to improve it strength. Advantageously, the transparent article is able to be not only thin and lightweight but also provide sufficient stiffness for use as a cover glass.
Apple’s patent FIGS. 1, 3 & 4 represent flow diagrams of glass article processing; Patent FIGS. 6A-6B are diagrams illustrating different rib configurations that strengthen the glass. The ribs could be made of transparent fiberglass material.
One of the materials considered for the class housing includes sapphire. The sapphire coating can be transparent or substantially transparent and, thus, not substantially impede the ability to use the glass article as a transparent cover glass for the housing.
Since the glass article can remain transparent (or substantially transparent) even with the sapphire coating, the coated glass article thus remains suitable for use as a user interfacing surface. In one embodiment, the sapphire coating can be deposited using a plasma-assisted Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process. In another embodiment, the sapphire coating can be deposited using a sputtering process.
For more details, see Apple’s patent application # 20180150109 which was filed back on January 31, 2018. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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