In one of Apple's iPhone 7 promotional videos, Jony Ive talks about the iPhone 7's pristine mirror-like finish that involves an anodization process which creates a protective oxide layer. One of the methods for that process was covered in a patent filing in October 2013. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that discusses the process that produces "Mirror-Finished Anodized Aluminum." The filing notes that "The surface of the metal substrate can be treated prior to an anodizing treatment to give the substrate a desired texture. In some cases, the substrate is lapped or polished smooth, providing a mirror shine finish to substrate."
Apple's patent further noted that "This mirror-like finish may be protected against abrasive wear by applying a substantially transparent anodic oxide, such as that formed by Type II sulfuric acid anodizing (or simply Type II anodizing) in accordance with the Aluminum Anodizing Council's (AAC) Military Specification Mil-A-8625.
Apple notes that there are problems with previous methods of anodizing and their invention walks through the upgraded process to strengthen this anodizing layer. Apple's patent FIG. 5 below shows a flowchart reviewing an anodizing process.
Apple filed for this invention back in Q2 2015. To review this invention for the finer details behind their new anodizing process that strengthens the aluminum found in the iPhone and beyond, see their patent application number 20160289858 here. Today's patent would be considered a patent fulfilled.
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