Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their X-ray scanning system that allows engineers to inspect the internals of an iDevice for defects or problems before heading to production. It's just one of Apple's quality control systems.
Apple's invention relates to a fixture designed to receive an electronic device (or devices) in order to perform a computerized (or computed) tomography ("CT") scan of the electronic device. CT scanning may include a radiation source that emits radiation, such as X-ray radiation, some of which penetrates through the electronic devices as well as the fixture. The radiation passing through the fixture and the electronic device may be received at a detection mechanism to create a two-dimensional image of the electronic device. Further, while receiving the radiation, the fixture and the electronic device may be rotated 360 degrees around a longitudinal axis extending defining a center of rotation (or axis of rotation) of the fixture to produce multiple two-dimensional images. Each two-dimensional image may be an image of the electronic device orientated at an angle, including a fraction of an angle, with respect to the radiation source. These two-dimensional images may combine to define a three-dimensional image of the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted below illustrates an isometric view of a system used to perform CT scanning operation.
The resultant three-dimensional image of the CT scan can be used to analyze the electronic device. For example, the image can determine whether an internal component of the electronic, such as a button or a camera module, is properly assembled in accordance with a design specification of the electronic device. Further, the image may determine whether the internal component was damaged during assembly.
The fixture may be made from one or more materials that allow the radiation to readily pass through the fixture. For example, the fixture may be formed from a polymeric material such as plastic. In this regard, the fixture may be formed using a three-dimensional printing apparatus ("3D printer") allowing the fixture to include a variety of customizable sizes and shapes to carry a variety of electronic devices.
A "three-dimension printer" refers to a printing apparatus that emits a polymeric material in order to form a three-dimensional structure. However, the fixture may be formed by other methods. For example, the fixture may include a polymeric material injected molded into a mold cavity that defines the size and shape of the fixture. Further, the fixture may be formed from a block of polymeric material that undergoes a material removal process.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates an isometric view of an embodiment of a fixture suitable for use with a CT scan; FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of the fixture having a first electronic device and a second electronic device secured with the fixture; FIG. 5 illustrates a side view of a fixture showing an electronic device positioned at an angle with respect to a support column.
Apple's patent FIG. 14 noted below illustrates an isometric view of an alternate embodiment of a fixture having several discrete adhesive features disposed throughout a support column of the fixture.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q3 2015.
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