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Apple Patent Covers New Machinery for Cover Glass Coatings for Anti-Smudge, Anti-Scratch & More Importantly Anti-Reflection

1A Cover  - Apple anti-reflective mfg process patent
In 2012 AppAdvice asked the question: "Will an Anti-Reflective Screen Ever Come to the iPhone and iPad?" Our September patent report covering Apple's patent application titled "UV Mask with Anti-Reflection Coating and UV Absorption Material," answered that question in respect to Apple working on a solution. The timing of this coming to market, of course, is another matter. This morning, Patently Apple was first to discover another Apple patent application on this very subject matter filed in Europe. This time around, Apple's patent pending invention discusses the manufacturing process and machinery associated with layering coatings unto the surface of device cover glass with such protective materials such as anti-scratch, color filters and most importantly, everything to do with anti-reflection materials for future products such as an iPhone, iPad or wearable computer.

Apple's Patent Background


Electronic devices such as computers and cellular telephones may have displays. With traditional display designs, it can be challenging to reduce reflections. It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide electronic devices with improved displays such as electronic devices with minimized display reflections. Apple's invention is about providing such a solution.


Apple's Anti-Reflective Manufacturing Process


Apple states that during manufacturing of the display, display layers such as color filter layers, opaque masking layers, liquid crystal layers and other layers may be formed on a sheet of substrate layer material such as a sheet of glass. Alignment marks may be formed on the sheet of glass.    


Manufacturing equipment such as deposition equipment and patterning equipment may be used to deposit and pattern display materials such as color filter material, opaque masking material, planarization material, polarizing material, or other material on the sheet of glass.


The manufacturing equipment may use the alignment marks to determine where to deposit and pattern the display materials on the sheet of glass. The alignment marks may be formed from materials such as metal or color filter material.    The alignment marks may be formed on the sheet of glass before forming color filter elements on the sheet of glass or may be patterned on the sheet of glass as a part of a color filter patterning process.


If desired, the display may be provided with layers for reducing fingerprints (e.g., a smudge-resistant coating in a touch-sensitive display), anti-scratch coatings, an antireflection coating, a layer for reducing the impact of static electricity such as an indium tin oxide electrostatic discharge protection layer, or other layers of material.


Apple's Deposition and Patterning Equipment


Apple's patent FIG. 9 shown below provides us with an illustration of deposition and patterning equipment. As shown in FIG. 9, deposition and patterning equipment may include deposition equipment such as deposition device (see patent point #136) for depositing display materials (e.g., color filter material, opaque masking material, planarization material, polymer material, liquid crystal material, polarizing material, anti-reflection coating material, oleophobic material, etc.) onto a substrate such as sheet of glass.


2AA. Apple's Depostion & Patterning Equipment for Anti-Reflective and other coatings

The Deposition device may include screen printing equipment, spin-on coating equipment, spray coating equipment, physical vapor deposition equipment, chemical vapor deposition equipment, or other suitable deposition equipment.    


In one suitable example as shown in FIG. 9, the deposition device which may be a slot coating device having, for example, a squeegee that applies a layer of material of a desired thickness to sheet of glass.     


The deposition device may, for example, be used to deposit opaque masking material onto the sheet in a downward direction while the sheet is moving through the equipment through spraying or other means.


Deposition and patterning equipment may include patterning equipment noted as patent point #135. Patterning equipment may include photolithographic patterning equipment, chemical etching equipment, or other suitable equipment for patterning photo-resistive materials such as color filter material and opaque masking material.


Patterning equipment and deposition devices may include optical sensing components such as camera sensors for locating and tracking alignment marks.


The patterning equipment and deposition device may include computing equipment such as microprocessors, memory or other computing equipment for controlling the position of the patterning equipment and deposition device, for controlling the volume of material released, for determining a relative position with respect to alignment marks using camera sensors or for performing other computing tasks associated with depositing and patterning display layers on the sheets of glass.


Future Devices Benefiting from Anti-Reflective & Other Cover Glass Coatings


According to Apple, future devices that may benefit from Anti-Reflective & other cover glass coatings include the following: a computer such as a computer that is integrated into a display such as a computer monitor, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a somewhat smaller portable device such as a wrist-watch device, pendant device, or other wearable or miniature device, a cellular telephone, a media player, a gaming device, a navigation device, a computer monitor, a television, or other electronic equipment.


Apple's patent was originally filed in Q2 2012 and recently published in Europe. One of the engineers listed on Apple's patent application is Cheng Chen, Sr. Engineering Manager at Apple, (Panel, Process and Optics) who also was listed as an inventor in a patent relating to Apple's Retina Display.


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