Apple Invents Break & Shock Resistant Sapphire Cover Glass for Future iDevices such as the iPhone and iPad
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.
On Thursday the World Intellectual Property Organization published a patent application from Apple that reveals another invention relating to a break resistant and shock protected sapphire plate which is particularly intended to be used as a cover for display devices. Furthermore, the invention relates to a method for producing this break resistant and shock protected sapphire plate.
Unlike the invention that was revealed in August, Apple only provides us with one poorly visible patent figure that was better presented in their September sapphire strengthening patent application FIG. 2 that we covered here. .
Apple's European patent application could only be truly appreciated by engineers, as Apple drills down into the technical aspects that general consumers really couldn't care less about.
Yet there are pockets of general interest to be found in this patent. In one example, Apple notes that "Embodiments with a layer thickness in the range of 1% to 2% of the substrate thickness prove to be particularly advantageous for the shock absorption. In particular, the impact and hit resistance of a sapphire plate could be noticeably raised during standardized experiments comparable with the so-called ball drop test in accordance with UL- 60950. During this test, a steel ball weighing 0.5 kg is dropped on the plate from a height of 1.3m. Afterwards, the sapphire plates mechanically treated this way are subjected to a bending or breaking test.
This has shown that the sapphire substrate equipped with the shock absorbing layer has a significantly higher bending stiffness and breaking resistance in comparison to comparative but uncoated sapphire substrates even after the ball drop test."
Later in their patent filing Apple reveals one of their future secret ingredients for this newly designed break and shock resistant glass. Apple notes that "It initially seems to be counter-intuitive to apply an aluminum oxide layer to a sapphire substrate. However, experiments have shown, that by coating the sapphire substrate with a layer having at least 50 wt.-% of aluminum oxide, the break resistance, the hit resistance as well as the bending strength of the sapphire substrate can be increased significantly in comparison to the uncoated sapphire substrate."
Apple credits Rudolf Beckmann, Nolker and two others from Germany as the inventors of patent application WO 2014/146947. Considering that all of the inventors and the patent agent are noted as being German, there's a high probability that this invention was acquired by Apple. For those wishing to view the entire patent filing, see Apple's European patent WO 2014/146947. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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