Patently Apple posted an IP report on Apple exploring the use of titanium in future Apple devices way back in April 2017, years before any rumor. Thereafter we posted six additional reports (01, 02, 03, 04, 05 and 06) regarding the possibility of using titanium prior to Apple introducing the Apple Watch Ultra that was the first Apple device to use titanium. Apple's marketing states: "To build the ultimate sports watch, we crafted every element with painstaking attention to detail for unparalleled performance. Titanium strikes the perfect balance between weight, ruggedness, and corrosion resistance."
This week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple another titanium related patent titled "Titanium Parts Having A Blasted Surface Texture."
Apple's granted relates to techniques for etching a surface of a titanium substrate. More particularly, the described embodiments relate to systems and methods for achieving a matte surface finish for the titanium substrate that could apply to Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and Macs.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 presented below simply clarifies the scope of products where matte titanium could apply someday; FIG. 6C illustrates a coated titanium part. According to some examples, the coated titanium part is processed by blasting a titanium part, and subsequently coating an external surface of the blasted titanium part with a physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating.
Technically speaking, Apple notes that "An enclosure for a portable electronic device, the enclosure comprising: a titanium substrate defining a textured surface having peaks separated by valleys, wherein apexes of the peaks are separated from troughs of the valleys by at least 2 micrometers, the textured surface having an Sq (root mean square height) that is greater than 0.2 micrometers and a gloss value that is greater than 90 gloss units as measured at 60 degrees by a gloss meter.
The enclosure of claim 1, wherein the textured surface has an Sdq (root mean square gradient) that is greater than 0.2 micrometers.
The enclosure of claim 1, wherein the textured surface has a gloss value that is greater than 20 gloss units as measured at 20 degrees by the gloss meter.
An enclosure for a portable electronic device, the enclosure comprising: a titanium substrate defining textured surface having peaks separated by valleys, wherein tops of the peaks are separated from bottoms of the valleys by a separation distance of at least 2 micrometers, wherein the textured surface has an Sq (root mean square height) that is greater than 0.2 micrometers and a gloss value that is greater than 90 gloss units as measured at 60 degrees by a gloss meter; and an anodized layer that overlays a portion of the textured surface."
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11493957 B2.
What device do you think Apple will use a titanium finish on next? An iPhone, a MacBook? Send in your feedback below or on our Twitter feed.
James Curran: Anodizing research and development
Sonja Postak: Surface Finish Design Engineer
Todd Mintz: Materials Engineer