Would you love to own a new MacBook or iPhone in Extreme Matte Black? Well, Apple just won a patent for just that
Who doesn't love matte black on cars, trucks, headphones, and other devices and accessories? Famed Video Youtuber Marques Brownlee is one that absolutely loves Matte Black Everything and even promotes a T-Shirt with that theme. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to new process that will be able to produce extreme matte black on future devices such as the MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and more.
Apple notes in their patent background that enclosures for portable electronic devices can include an anodized layer that can be dyed in different colors in order to enhance their cosmetic appeal to consumers. However, certain colors are far more difficult to achieve than others. In particular, attempts by consumer electronic device manufacturers to achieve a true black color have fallen short. This is what Apple's invention has overcome.
Anodized Part Having A Matte Black Appearance
Apple's patent generally relates to etching a surface of a dyed anodized part. More particularly, the described embodiments relate to techniques for etching the surface of the dyed anodized part such as to form light-absorbing features that are capable of absorbing generally all visible light incident upon the external surface such as to impart an extreme black matte appearance.
The anodized part includes a metal substrate and an anodized layer overlaying and formed from the metal substrate. The anodized layer includes an external surface that includes randomly distributed light-absorbing features that absorb visible light incident upon the external surface, and pores defined by pore walls, where color particles are infused within the pores, and the anodized layer has an L* value using a CIE L*a*b* color space that is less than 10.
In some examples, the external surface of the anodized part includes a scallop having a diameter of 3 micrometers or greater. In another example the light-absorbing features of the absorb light incident to the external surface, the light-absorbing features being defined by peaks and pits, and the tops of the peaks are separated from bottoms of the pits by a clearance distance of 2 micrometers or less. In some examples, the pits of the anodized part have diameters less than 2 micrometers. In yet other examples, the peaks of the anodized parts have varied heights. In other examples, the pores of the anodized part are sealed. In some examples, the color particles include dye pigments or an electrodeposited metal. According to another example, the anodized layer has a gloss, as measured at 85 degrees, of less than 10 gloss units.
According to some embodiments, an enclosure for a portable electronic device is described. The enclosure includes a substrate that includes metal and an anodized layer that overlays the substrate. The anodized layer includes nano-scale tubes having color particles infused therein, and an external surface having peaks of varying heights that are separated by pits of varying depths, where the anodized layer is characterized as having a gloss appearance, as measured at 85 degrees, of less than 10 gloss units.
According to some embodiments, the openings of the nano-scale tubes are sealed. In some other examples of the enclosure, the tops of the peaks are separated from bottoms of adjacent pits by a clearance distance of 2 micrometers or less. The pits can, in some examples, have diameters of 2 micrometers or less. In some examples, the enclosure is a thermal dissipation component. The anodized layer can, in some examples, have an L* value of less than 10 using a CIE L*a*b* color space. In some examples, the color particles in the enclosure include dye pigments or an electrodeposited metal.
According to some embodiments, a method for forming an enclosure for a portable electronic device is described. The method includes forming an anodized layer that overlays a metal substrate, infusing color particles within pores of the anodized layer, and forming light-absorbing features on an external surface of the anodized layer by etching the external surface such that the anodized layer has a color having an L* value that is less than 10 using a CIE L*a*b* color space.
According to some examples, the method for forming the enclosure for a portable electronic device includes sealing the pores of the anodized layer prior to forming the light-absorbing features. In some examples, the light-absorbing features are defined by peaks and pits, and tops of the peaks are separated from bottoms of the pits by a distance of 2 micrometers or less. The tops of the peaks can have varying heights, and the bottoms of the pits have varying depths. In some examples, the pits have diameters less than 2 micrometers.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates the devices that are likely to adopt extreme black matte at some future point in time; FIGS. 3A-3B illustrate various views of a sealed anodized part prior to undergoing an etching process.
Apple's patent FIGS. 7A-7B above illustrate exemplary images of an anodized part having light-absorbing features.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 7B illustrates a magnified view of Location B (also depicted in FIG. 7A) and demonstrates the extent of the etching along the external surface #702, as well as within the nanotubes. In particular, Location B of FIG. 7B illustrates numerous pits (PT) and peaks (PK) that are randomly distributed throughout the external surface #702. The pits (PT) and peaks (PK) cause the external surface to diffusely reflect visible light incident thereupon.
Moreover, the combination of the pits and the peaks with the color particles imparts the anodized part #700 with an extremely matte black appearance with an L* value of ˜1, an a* value of ˜0, and a b* value of ˜0 using a CIE L*a*b* color space.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11751349. Patently Apple was first to report on Apple's patent application for this invention back in December 2020.