The European Patent Office published a new patent application from Apple late last week that describes a fused glass process for device housings. We're all familiar with the iPhone 4S having both its face and back housings constructed with glass. Apple's latest European patent filing, which lists Jony Ive as one of the inventors, illustrates the double sided glass construction design possibly extending through to the iPod, iPad, and various displays (iMac, Cinema) including a television encased in glass using a fused glass process.
Apple's Patent Background
Electronic devices such as cellular telephones, handheld computers, and portable music players often include housings with glass members. For example, a device with a display may have a glass cover that serves as a protective layer. In some devices, a rear housing surface may be formed from a layer of glass.
To ensure satisfactory robustness, it is generally desirable to form device housing structures such as cover glass layers and housing surfaces from structures that are sufficiently strong to prevent damage during accidental impact events. For example, it is generally desirable to form portable devices that are subject to drop events from structures that are able to withstand the forces involved in a typical drop event without incurring excessive damage.
Glass strength and device aesthetics can sometimes be enhanced by using sufficiently thick glass layers.
However, the size and weight of a device should not be excessive. If care is not taken, modifications that are made to ensure that a device has glass structures that are sufficiently strong, will make the device heavy and bulky.
It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved glass structures for electronic devices.
Apple's Fused Glass Device Housing
Apple's new invention is about electronic devices that may have glass housing structures. The glass housing structures may be used to cover a display and other internal electronic device components. The glass housing structures may cover a front face of an electronic device and, if desired, may cover additional device surfaces.
The glass housing structure may have multiple glass pieces that are joined using a glass fusing process. A peripheral glass member may be fused along the edge of a planar glass member to enhance the thickness of the edge. A rounded edge feature may be formed by machining the thickened edge. Raised fused glass features may surround openings in the planar glass member. Raised support structure ribs may be formed by fusing glass structures to the planar glass member.
Multiple planar glass members may be fused together to form a five-sided box in which electronic components may be mounted. Display structures and other internal components may be slid into place between opposing glass sides of the box.
Opaque masking material and colored glass may be used to create portions of the glass housing structures that hide internal device components from view.
Apple's current iPhone uses (or will use) a fused glass device housing which includes both a top and bottom glass construction. Apple's patent extends this double sided glass structure design to possible future Apple products such as the iPad, iPod, display (iMac, Cinema) or Television as noted in patent figures 1-4 below.
Apple's patent FIG. 23 shown below illustrates how internal electronic device components such as the display may be inserted into glass structures 20E and, if desired, may be covered with fused end cap 20F. The design could apply to both a display and television
Apple notes that display structures may be for example, flexible structures for a flexible liquid crystal display, flexible electrowetting display structures, flexible electrophoretic display structures, or flexible organic light-emitting diode display structures (as examples) .
Apple credits Senior Vice President of Design Jony Ives and team members Peter Russell-Clark, Michael Polliod as the inventors of this patent application which was filed in Europe and published on August 01, 2013.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
New on Patent Bolt this Week