updated 01:50 pm EST, Wed December 26, 2012
Concept conflicts with current Apple design trends
Another USPTO patent granted to Apple this week, joining one for SIM card connectors, describes a method of manufacturing curved glass for electronics. The company remarks that older dropout and vacuum methods for shaping glass can create problems because of the fixed alignment systems they depend on. Examples include "perimetrical flanges" on the edges that need to be ground off, or else stretches and cracks, and the need for potentially dangerous chemicals.
Apple's idea involves an alternate alignment system that shifts away from the glass as the temperature increases during a slumping process. The company claims this allows for thinner, better-quality concave glass which is also safer and cheaper to produce.
The process could conceivably be applied to future iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but that may be unlikely. Apple has been moving away from curved designs in recent years, adding flat backs to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It has even reduced its use of glass design elements, doing away with glass backing on the iPhone 5.