Apple has over the years discussed the use of ceramic materials for future components and embodiments. Apple's latest use of ceramics could be found in the Apple Watch in context with zirconia. On the Apple Watch craftsmanship webpage, Apple notes that "Because the back crystal is vital to the function of the technology encased inside Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition, we chose zirconia, a type of ceramic, as the primary material." Today, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals methods for improved ceramics mold casting using zirconia particles. The new method is applied to eliminate air bubbles in component parts. If you happen to be an engineer, a materials expert or someone who generally appreciates industrial processes of manufacturing, then this invention may be of interest to you.
New Casting System
Apple's patent FIGS. 3F and 3G shown below illustrate views of a casting system, including a ceramic-based slurry mixture undergoing processes of casting.
In Apple's patent FIG. 3F shown below we're able to see the mold vacuum #318 applying a final vacuum force (F.sub.VAC) to cavity #314 including the predetermined amount of ceramic-based slurry mixture #100, to substantially ensure that the ceramic-based slurry mixture is free from air bubbles #108.
In comparing FIGS. 3F and 3G, during the curing process zirconia particles #106 may aid in the formation of ceramic component 342. More specifically, as shown in FIG. 3F, the zirconia particles may be dispersed evenly throughout the ceramic-based slurry mixture. As the curing process becomes complete, and the ceramic component of FIG. 3G is formed, the plurality of evenly distributed zirconia particles may aid in forming a rigid ceramic component #342 to include a substantially uniform density.
Because of the ceramic-based slurry mixture composition (e.g., first material 102, second material 104) and the respective chemical reaction that takes place in combining the materials to form ceramic-based slurry mixture, the forming of the ceramic component may occur without performing additional processes on the ceramic-based slurry mixture.
As noted in our opening summary, this kind of invention is extremely technical and could only be appreciated by certain professionals. For those wishing to delve into the details of this invention, see Apple's patent application 20150217479.
Apple credits Douglas Weber and Naoto Matsuyuki as the inventors. The patent application was filed in February 2014. Whether Apple has already produced such a process or is one in the making is unknown at this time.
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