Apple Wins Patent for a Protective Layer designed to protect Future Folding Device Displays from Cracking at the Fold
In April 2020 Patently Apple posted an IP report titled "Apple Invents a new Protective Layer for Foldable Displays that is designed to Resist Cracking at the Fold Mark." Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published this as a granted patent.
Apple's granted patent is focused on correcting display cracking issues found in foldable devices today from Samsung and others which has definitely turned off consumers to the whole idea of foldable smartphones. Apple's patent specifically relates to protective cover layer structures for smartphones, and more particularly for flexible displays that could fold while being crack resistant.
Apple's granted patent specifically describes display modules and protective cover layer structures that may be implemented in curved, flexible, conformable and foldable display modules, and in particular with curved, flexible, conformable and foldable display panels.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic isometric view illustration of a protective cover layer; FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional side view illustration of a bent protective cover layer.
Apple notes that typically, glass fracture initiates from the presence of micro-cracks. The hardcoat layer #104 in accordance with embodiments may fill pre-existing micro-cracks and also make it harder to initiate a crack.
Furthermore, the hardcoat layer may be engineered to have a sufficiently high hardness and tensile strength to function as an exterior protective coating for the electronic device, while being able to withstand more strain before fracture compared to the transparent support substrate #102. Thus, the hardcoat layer is sufficiently durable for high puncture and scratch resistance.
Apple's patent FIG. 4A above is a schematic top view illustration of crack propagation in a scratched transparent support substrate; FIG. 4B is a schematic top view illustration of crack propagation in a scratched transparent support substrate with hardcoat layer.
Apple's patent FIGS. 12A-12B above are schematic isometric view illustrations of an electronic device #1200 such as an iPhone. The display panel #150 and protective cover layer #100 may be curved, flexible, conformable and/or foldable. Apple's patent FIG. 12A illustrates an outward bending application, while FIG. 12B illustrates an inward bending application.
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple patent 10,817,016 titled " Hybrid coverlay/window structure for flexible display applications."