Apple Receives Patent on a Drop-proof iPhone

iphone-appsOrange County – Apple is renowned for its forward thinking patents. Recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company a patent for a special construction process that involves sapphire glass displays and LiquidMetal. The patent approval happened soon after Apple announced that it has exclusive rights to LiquidMetal’s unique alloy until 2015. LiquidMetal is a “bulk amorphous alloy” that looks like metal in liquid form, but moves like molten plastic. Despite its name it is not liquid at room temperature. So far, it’s been used to make items such as SIM card ejectors, military equipment and medical devices. It has still not been used in common consumer products.

But, that’s where Apple comes in. Apple’s patent talks about the new use it has in mind for LiquidMetal and how it will help stabilize the sapphire glass displays in future devices. For example, when you drop your iPhone, stabilization will ensure that that glass does not shatter or pop off. Currently Apple uses a plastic chassis and a rubberized gasket to keep the display secure from sudden impact. But Apple’s new patent shows plans to bypass all these troublesome steps and use LiquidMetal in a new metal injection molding process. In this manner, the sapphire glass can be formed directly into the iPhone or iPad’s metal bezel. The liquid metal flows through a mold’s cavity that contains the transparent material and hardens, grabbing the glass and “eliminating tolerance issues.” According to Apple, the resulting structure is an “integrally formed display assembly.”

The patent shows that plastic is also usable, but the emphasis is on the idea to use the cutting-edge technology involving LiquidMetal to ensure the strongest bond and protection between the glass display and metal chassis.

It’s very likely you won’t see LiquidMetal technology in the iPhone6 to be released this fall. However, given Apple’s agreement with GT Technologies to make large amounts of sapphire glass, it is reasonable to expect sapphire glass displays on the much-anticipated iPhone. News of mass LiquidMetal production, which would be needed for an internationally popular product like the iPhone, has not been reported. Apple’s integrated LiquidMetal iPhone display assembly patent was filed first in 2008 and credits Kyle H. Yeates as its inventor.




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