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Apple exploring carbon fiber construction

updated 12:00 pm EDT, Thu April 30, 2009

Apple carbon fiber patent

Apple may be toying with the notion of introducing carbon fiber into future products, a newly exposed patent application reveals. Carbon fiber is extremely durable, and when mixed with plastic can also result in a very lightweight material. The difficulty, Apple suggests, is that even in many alternative methods of forming a carbon fiber shell, the result is a black surface with visible fibers that can dictate how a product will look.

Apple's proposed solution involves a composite laminate, in which a carbon fiber composite would be enclosed in a scrim of glass fiber. This scrim would partially conceal the underlying fibers, while at the same time taking on properties of the resin used in the molding process, such as color. Using the right resin could therefore generate many aesthetics, not just a woven black.

It is thought that Apple's main interest in carbon fiber revolves around notebooks, specifically the MacBook Air, which is marketed in part on its extremely low weight. Rumors have hinted that the company would like to use carbon for the base of the Air, lowering the computer's weight from approximately 3 pounds to 2.78. A major obstacle is cost, due to the relatively expensive nature of carbon fiber compared to metals and pure plastics.

by MacNN Staff





  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "highly" lightweight?

    try 'very' or 'extremely', MacNN!!! It seems odd to use 'highly' to describe something which weighs very little.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ahh... climacs...

    This IS MacNN, you ought to be used to this kind of nonsense already...

    It's funny how their OWN spell checker marks "MacNN" as incorrect... Hilarious...

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Isn't MacNN run by some non-Americans? There are so many syntactical mistakes, words left out, words misused, and bad reporting on this website that the only real accomplishment they seem to have is to get advertisers. I remember when they had hardly any and they weren't any better back then.
    They are pot-stirrers. Gossip mongers.

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple Thinkpad

    Yes! Gimma a lovely matt black laptop, with all the other features I miss from my old Thinkpad T23 as well.

    Docking station, two buttons, full cursor keys, drive activity light, sleep indicator I don't have to guess at, stotted hard drive, slotted optical drive, docking station, docking station, did I mention the docking station?

  1. moldyapples

    Joined: Dec 1969



    How recyclable is carbon fiber? Since they tout aluminum as eco-friendly, how would a switch to carbon go over with the greenies?

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I can't imagine

    this working out.
    Carbon fiber shells, of the same thickness as metal ones, tend to be somewhat more flexible.

    Wear and tear could expose the fibers, even with an external glass fiber "scrim".

    Color can be applied as paint layers. I don't see how adding pigment to the resin would do anything more than degrade the properties of uncolored resin.

    It's good to examine new directions, and Apple does this very well overall, but I have my doubts about this one, from a quality control perspective.

  1. addisonx

    Joined: Dec 1969


    add two wheels

    finally, apple is going to make bicycles!

  1. GopherAlex

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The TiBook's frame was carbon fiber painted light gray. Some batches had defective paint which flaked off and it looked horrible (Google it). It is certainly possible to add pigment to the fiber.

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