Apple Exploring Carbon-Fiber Enclosures for Future Devices

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,654
10,974




"Carbon Fiber" decal on MacBook Pro​

Apple has long been rumored to be experimenting with carbon-fiber enclosures for their future laptops and iOS devices. The benefits of carbon fiber over traditional materials has included high tensile strength, low weight and low thermal expansion.

Back in November 2008, reports suggested Apple would replace aluminum parts in the MacBook Air with carbon fiber in order to further drop the weight of the ultra-thin laptop. Then in 2009, a patent application was published also revealing that Apple had been researching the use of carbon-fiber composites for use in the exterior shells of electronic devices. In that document, Apple was specifically working on improving the cosmetic appearance of carbon fiber which it described as "often being black, [providing] a narrow range of surface appearance to the molded article and therefore may give a 'tired', unexciting look."

Finally, this past year, two separate reports indicated that Apple had been working on prototype iPad 2s with carbon fiber backings (2).

Now, a relatively recent hire of Senior Composites Engineer Kevin Kenney (via 9to5Mac) seems to indicate more of the same. Kenney had previously worked at Kestrel Bicycles which is credited with being the pioneer of the carbon fiber frame design with the world's first all-carbon bicycle frame in 1986.

Apple has always paid special attention to the aesthetics of its consumer products, seemingly trying to always shave off a few millimeters of thickness or ounces of weight off of its latest products. Exploring alternative materials is a natural area of research. Late last year, Apple acquired exclusive rights for Liquidmetal's alloys in the field of consumer electronics. Apple has yet to release any designs on any of these new materials.

Article Link: Apple Exploring Carbon-Fiber Enclosures for Future Devices
 

paolo-

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2008
831
1
Interesting, but I somehow doubt they'll go through as it doesn't follow their environmental agenda too much. It could look good if instead of going with a high gloss finish they would use a sandblasted finish where you wouldn't see the weaving and would be harder to scratch.
 

HBOC

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2008
2,494
234
SLC
Even with CF MBPs, people will still complain that the 15" and 17" are "too heavy"....
 

ellsworth

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2007
764
90
+1 for Liquid Metal. I was butt-hurt when I saw this and this:


and this:

but ended up getting this:
:(

And I was thinking, to cover up your entire macbook pro with the carbon-fiber decal... would that cause excessive over-heating?
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,041
14,856
Central U.S.
I can see carbon fiber being used on iOS devices. Not sure about Macs, as it would require so much more material. Apple would have to make sure their process is as efficient as their current unibody design. But it would definitely be a welcome change. Especially on iPhone, where you can't drop the thing more than three feet without the glass shattering. Apple could use iPhone and/or iPad as a test bed for bringing this technology to their other products. Perhaps even the Macbook Air to follow. Starting on the devices where the weight matters a lot more, as well as strength.

I believe this is an area where Apple could separate themselves even more from the rest of the industry. Where are the super strong smartphones? The waterproof ones? The phones of the future with month-long batteries? I feel like this will be a primary focus over the next decade after the speed increases become negligent. Phones that are environmentally friendly, practically indestructible, that hardly ever have to be recharged. Brilliant.
 

Luph67

macrumors member
Mar 18, 2011
35
0
Aluminum seems to hit the spot when it comes to exterior aesthetics, and that seems to be important to them. Can't see it happening unless they can make carbon fiber look just as good.
 

RMo

macrumors 65816
Aug 7, 2007
1,220
215
Iowa, USA
I think, at least right now, carbon fibre would be prohibitively expensive.
Is it really? I have a carbon-fiber fork bicycle, and, while it was expensive, it wasn't that much more than similar all-aluminum bicycles. I assume Apple would need even less of the material than my bike has, especially for smaller things like iOS devices.

But I might be totally wrong.

Like the article mentions, I think Apple's biggest problem might be with the material's appearance. It can be painted, but I doubt they would accept that solution!
 

aiqw9182

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2010
1,089
0
Meh, I quite enjoy the feel of the aluminum MacBook Pro's. Never been too big of a fan of carbon fiber products.
 

coryndiego

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2008
182
2
San Diego, Ca.
What about a thin layer of Liquid Metal combined with the Carbon Fiber to make a super strong material that looks metal from the outside. Just enough Liquid Metal to smooth the finish and protect from shock or compression.

I wonder if this is possible?
 

wordoflife

macrumors 604
Jul 6, 2009
7,563
34
I hate the way carbon fiber looks. #js.
I don't like the way the black MBP looks either (image posted by ellsworth)
 
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