The newly revealed Sport Collection of the Apple Watch that is coming to market in 2015 will be using a new kind of cover glass called Ion-X glass which has been patently strengthened. This strengthening process was first uncovered by Patently Apple in an August report covering this patent pending invention. This week, another patent pending invention came to light in Europe about strengthening sapphire glass for larger cover display glass that Apple may use for future iDevices such as the iPhone and iPad.
Buried in a sea of Apple patent applications that were published earlier this week by the US Patent & Trademark Office, an Apple invention for an alternative method for strengthening sapphire glass came to light. On September seventeenth I posted a report titled "LG Wins Contract for AMOLED Apple Watch Displays & Apple Fulfills Patent," which showed that the new Apple Watch was using a new patent pending sapphire glass strengthening process that we first covered in a report in August using ion steaming. In Apple's latest patent pending invention, we see that a secondary engineering team has worked on an alternative sapphire glass strengthening process. Whether their new process will work itself across the entire Apple Watch family over time or is being aimed for future cover glass applications for the iPhone and iPad is unknown at this time.
Yesterday an Apple patent filing published in Europe revealed a new multi-step process that will strengthen sapphire for future Apple devices and parts like the cover glass found in the iPhone's Home Button that protects the fingerprint scanner from scratches that could affect fingerprint verification. While our report only skims the surface of this highly technical patent application, it definitely goes to show you the lengths that team Apple will go to explore, invent a deliver cool products for the high-end of the market who appreciate original craftsmanship.
On July 10, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an invention related to a next generation of sapphire cover glass. The glass could be used as both a front and/or back cover for future iDevices such as an iPhone and/or iPad. A sapphire back side cover glass could be used on an iPad as was revealed in one of Apple's latest granted patents regarding fused glass housings. The Indicia, which may include Apple's logo, device serial number and so forth won't be imprinted on the sapphire glass but rather embedded in between two layers of sapphire glass via means of a new ion implantation methodology. The indicia can also be color controlled so as to stand out correctly on the surface of a particular iDevice. In addition, there were two supporting patent applications worth noting that cover residual compression stress and sapphire cover glass that could extend to the sides, top and bottom of an iDevice. This would translate to an entire housing created with sapphire cover glass.
On May 22, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals more details relating to sapphire cover glass for future iDevices. Today, Apple's Home Button uses laser cut Sapphire. In the future, it may simply be an extension of the cover glass that will also cover any bezel construction. The use of sapphire cover glass may extend to many products including the iPhone, an iMac, a MacBook (Pro or Air), ultraportable computers and monitor display devices.
Last week we posted a report titled "Apple Reveals an Oleophobic Coating on Sapphire Process for iDevices that may Incorporate Liquid-Metal." The week prior we reported that Apple revealed laser cutting techniques for processing sapphire. The wave of sapphire related patents continues for the third straight week with one titled "Continuous Sapphire Growth." Apple's patent application relates to sapphire growth and, more particularly, to systems and methods for continuous sapphire growth.
In early February we learned about Apple's new Sapphire manufacturing equipment arriving at their new Arizona plant for processing sapphire materials. We learned days later that Apple's Arizona Plant could manufacture synthetic sapphire at two times the current worldwide capacity. And at the top of this month, Apple's CEO Tim Cook stated that their new sapphire plant wasn't for creating iPhone display covers but rather reserved for a secret project. Today we learn more about Apple's sapphire processing methods and systems through two new patent applications published by the US Patent Office. The patent covers special laser cutting techniques and specialized furnaces. And while the Arizona plant may not be used for making sapphire iPhone display covers, some other plant will, as the patent clearly illustrates the process in context with the iPhone as noted in our cover graphic.
Patently Apple was the first to discuss the possibility of Apple using sapphire crystal glass for future devices back in March 2013 before it was on anyone's radar screen. Since that time we've covered all of Apple's major patents concerning the use of Sapphire for displays in future iPhones. There was one covering a fusion process for adding a sapphire laminate layer to a future iPhone. Then there was the killer patent covering a futuristic sapphire flexible transparent display in December 2013 quickly followed by one covering techniques for using sapphire on iDevice displays in January. Today the news gets better as equipment for producing the sapphire materials has arrived at Apple's Arizona plant.
Yesterday Patently Apple reported on a new patent application from Apple covering new techniques for using sapphire on iDevice displays. Today, it's being report that Apple OEM partner Foxconn has begun testing the assembly of sapphire substrate display covers for the iPhone in their Lunhua factory in Shenzhen. According to Chinese-language Apple Daily report, Foxconn has packaged 100 sapphire substrate display cover phones. Despite the small number assembled, the report claims that it's is a huge development for Foxconn.
It was reported yesterday that GT Advanced, Apple's manufacturing partner for its new sapphire glass plant in Mesa, Arizona, began advertising job openings at the new plant that will produce sapphire materials that will cover iDevice cameras and Apple's Touch ID Home Button feature. In March we were first to note that Apple may shift to sapphire crystal for future iDevice display covers. Then in September 2013 we posted a report about a new fusion process for adding a sapphire laminate layer to future iDevice cover glass as well as wearables. In December 2013 Apple revealed future iDevices could use flexible sapphire displays created with a sophisticated liquid-metal process. In today's published patent application, Apple once again confirms that iDevices will use sapphire for future iPhone displays and beyond.
This morning Patently Apple discovered a killer patent application from Apple that was published in Europe. Apple's killer invention describes flexible wraparound displays for a possible future iPhone and/or other devices. The patent describes sapphire and transparent displays used in a form factor created by an alumina powder liquid-metal process. Apple further describes some very interesting applications taking advantage of this kind of continuous wraparound display that could be ideal for a future wristband computer that we reported on earlier this year. Without a doubt, this patent application is one of the best of the year – so check it out.
On September 12, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their intention to add a sapphire laminate to future iDevices like the iPhone and iWatch to provide a stronger glass that is ultimately scratch resistant. It was revealed earlier this week that Apple's new iPhone 5S Home Button is made from laser-cut sapphire crystal. Apple's patent application describes their method of fusing a sapphire laminate sheet to a device's cover glass.
Apple's premier glass supplier is Corning and Apple's iPhone has been using Gorilla Glass from day one. On page 472 of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, we read: "We produced a glass that had never been made," stated Corning's CEO Wendell Weeks. This is what Steve wanted for the iPhone and so it's highly unlikely that they'd easily switch suppliers. Perhaps in the not too distant future Corning could consider manufacturing a new type of glass that seems to be the next big thing in glass. This next generation of glass is made from sapphire crystal.