On June 25, 2015, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals how they invented Apple Watch bands such as the one for Apple Watch Sport. The newly designed method could later be extended to create purse straps and articles of clothing. Apple notes that the woven fabric band, which contains polymers, includes two different layers of materials which have distinctly different melting points so that the items could be shaped to specifications.
Apple's Patent Background
Typically, when securing a woven fabric or other material to another object, the woven fabric needs a termination point. The termination point may be made by stitching a first portion of the woven fabric to itself, a second portion of the woven fabric or to another object. However, such configurations may cause the woven fabric to change its shape, width or structure or the additional stitching may cause the width of the object and/or the woven fabric to increase. This increase in width may not be desirable. Additionally, the stitching may cause undesirable aesthetics on the woven fabric or undesirable aesthetics on the object.
It is with respect to these and other general considerations that embodiments have been made. Also, although relatively specific problems have been discussed, it should be understood that the embodiments should not be limited to solving the specific problems identified in the background.
Apple's Invention Relates to Apple Watch Bands
Apple notes that one or more embodiments of the present disclosure provide a woven fabric band that is capable of being secured to another object – such as the Apple Watch. In certain embodiments, the woven fabric band comprises an inner layer having a first temperature melting point and an outer layer having a second temperature melting point that is higher than the first temperature melting point. When heat, having the first temperature, is applied to the woven fabric band, the inner layer of the woven fabric band melts or becomes more malleable while the outer layer remains in its original state. When the inner layer melts, the inner layer conforms to a first shape. As a result of the inner layer conforming to the first shape, the outer layer also conforms to the same shape.
In another embodiment, a method for generating a woven fabric band is disclosed. According to such embodiments, the method includes creating an inner layer of the woven fabric band with the inner layer having a first temperature melting point. In certain embodiments, a sheath surrounds the inner layer. Further, the sheath has a second temperature melting point that is different from the temperature melting point of the inner layer. The method further includes applying heat to the woven fabric band that causes the inner layer to melt and conform to a shape without melting or damaging the sheath.
In still yet other embodiments, a method of generating a securement mechanism for a woven fabric band is disclosed. According to this method, the woven fabric band is placed into a mold. Heat is applied to a first side and a second side of a first portion of the woven fabric band. However, heat is not applied to a first side and a second side of a second portion of the woven fabric band. The heat that is applied to the first side and the second side of the first portion of the woven fabric band causes the first portion of the woven fabric band to melt. As the first portion melts, the first portion conforms to the shape of the mold and may generate the securement mechanism. A channel in the mold causes the melted first portion of the woven fabric band to flow away from the second portion of the woven fabric band. As a result, the melted first portion of the woven fabric band may be easily removed from the second portion of the woven fabric band.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A illustrates an exemplary woven fabric band having a plurality of securement features; FIG. 1B illustrates a close-up view of the woven fabric band of FIG. 1A having the plurality of securement features.
Apple notes that although the term fabric is used herein, it is contemplated that the embodiments and methods described herein may be applied to various materials that can be woven together. It is also contemplated that the material, when woven together, may be cut, manufactured or manipulated into various shapes, articles and objects having varying dimensions. Non-limiting examples of the fabric may include nylon and other such polymers.
The woven fabric, or portions of the woven fabric, may be heated to a melting point (e.g., a point at which the heated portion melts). When the woven fabric is melted, the melted portion may be manipulated or formed into various shapes, protrusions, depressions, graphics and the like.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6A to FIG. 6C noted below illustrate an exemplary woven fabric band #600 having a plurality of threads #640 for securing an object #630 to the woven fabric band. Although the term fabric is used herein, it is contemplated that the embodiments and methods described herein may be applied to various materials that can be woven together to form a strap, band, article of clothing and the like.
Apple notes that an object #630 may be secured to the woven fabric band. The object may be a pin, a clasp, a hook or other such mechanism that enables an object to be secured to a second object or to the woven fabric band itself.
The embodiments disclosed herein may be used in conjunction with a mobile phone, a device that tells time, a health monitoring device or assistant, a purse, a bracelet or other such article of clothing. Further, although a flat thin band is specifically shown and described herein, the woven fabric band may be formed in any shape having a variety of dimensions. For example, if the woven fabric band was to be used to as a strap for a purse, the woven fabric band may be circular in shape.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a woven fabric band. Apple notes that the temperature melting point of the outer layer may be 220 degrees Celsius while the temperature melting point of the inner layer may be 110 degrees Celsius.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 illustrates a cross-sectional view of the woven fabric band 600 with a plurality threads extending out that will later be removed.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 noted above is a flow diagram that illustrates a method #500 for creating a woven fabric band. The method may be used to create ornamental designs or shapes on the woven fabric band including holes, depressions, logos, ridges, bosses, links, protrusions and the like. The method may also be used to generate a number of different three-dimensional shapes and configurations.
While Apple never reveals the type of polymers used for the creation of these bands, it's a known fact that Apple uses Fluoroelastomer for the Apple Watch Sport. The performance of fluoroelastomers in aggressive chemicals depends on the nature of the base polymer and the compounding ingredients used for molding the final products.
Apple credits Edward Siahaan, Douglas Weber, Hsiang Chen, Naoto Matsuyuki, Teodor Dabov, Whitney Mattson and Ying-Liang Su as the inventors.
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