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  • Apple Patenting Method to Harden Stainless Steel


    Reports that Apple is patenting a process to harden stainless steel has prompted speculation that the company is interested in making cases for future mobile devices out of steel, rather than plastic or glass. The method described in the application involves placing a thin layer of nitride on top of the steel to improve its ability to resist scratches and rust.

    The patent, called "Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products," talks about the rust-resistant quality of stainless steel: specifically, the addition of chromium to the alloy which permits a thin layer of chromium oxide to form on the surface, inhibiting further rust. Some manufacturers use a titanium nitride coating to add further protection to the steel, but this can cause a yellowish tint. Apple's patent presents a way to preserve the natural color of the steel by using a different nitride. "In addition to providing a durable, hard surface that is both scratch and impact resistant," the patent reads, "the nitride layer allows for the natural surface color and texture of the underlying stainless steel to remain visible to the user." The layer would be just 15 microns thick but would have a Vickers hardness rating of over 1000. Normal stainless steel has a hardness rating of about 150.

    Austenitic stainless steel, which is a form of stainless that includes nickel, is useful for mobile devices because it is non-magnetic and does not block RF, WiFi, Bluetooth, or other wireless technologies utilizing electromagnetism. The band around the iPhone 4 is made of this material.

    Apple's interest in metal manufacturing techniques is not limited to this process: the company obtained an exclusive license to use the intellectual property of Liquidmetal Technologies to create extremely strong, flexible materials with the pliability of plastic so that they can be formed into a wide variety of shapes.

    Source: AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Patenting Method to Harden Stainless Steel started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. pacmac's Avatar
      pacmac -
      no more glass breaks just a fat dent...i assume the 1st gen iphone did not use this material...i do love the iphone 4 design ....apple need to get rid of the chrome back on ipod touches
    1. metalmaster420's Avatar
      metalmaster420 -
      Steve is getting the T-1000 ready for deployment. Should be ready about the same time SkyNet goes live. Lol.
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Lol, too late for iPod touches.
    1. Cowboy's Avatar
      Cowboy -
      thank god i like the glass back look but i like the comfort i had with my 2g
    1. blueblaze4444's Avatar
      blueblaze4444 -
      looks like brushed metal instead of the shiny iPod Touch back. Much nicer, more official, and not going to scratch.
    1. Rob2G's Avatar
      Rob2G -
      That iPhone in the picture looks cool. Can we buy metal housings for iPhone 4 on the intranetz?
    1. willie498's Avatar
      willie498 -
      Finally! I have no complaints about the glass back that is on there, but i still think that a steel would look much better than plastic or glass, just like the 2G!
    1. akward silence's Avatar
      akward silence -
      A similar process to this is used for some equipment I use at work (deep sea diving). I'm very interested to see how this pans out.
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      I'll be happy to see another predominantly metal iPhone. I love the look of my iPhone 4 but there is simply too much wasted space with the glass front and back. The phone could shave off a couple mm just by replacing the glass back with a thinner yet stronger piece of steel.
    1. HexTheHeckler's Avatar
      HexTheHeckler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rob2G View Post
      That iPhone in the picture looks cool. Can we buy metal housings for iPhone 4 on the intranetz?
      Yeah, you can. There about $15 I thought about it but couldn't justify removing a $170 OEM part for a $15 part made in hong kong. Try eBay & if it's in America it came from Hong Kong.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rob2G View Post
      That iPhone in the picture looks cool. Can we buy metal housings for iPhone 4 on the intranetz?
      Someone posted that case and a link a couple weeks ago... it's around and was like $14.
    1. Jmataska's Avatar
      Jmataska -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      Someone posted that case and a link a couple weeks ago... it's around and was like $14.
      Yea the website is CNN.cn. Just ordered mine earlier before this thread was up lol


      Sent from my iPhone using ModMyi
    1. quidam_brujah's Avatar
      quidam_brujah -
      Cool -- '30 times stronger than a helicopter windshield', so it shatters on impact, just like Steve's super glass.
    1. raduga's Avatar
      raduga -
      Quote Originally Posted by quidam_brujah View Post
      Cool -- '30 times stronger than a helicopter windshield', so it shatters on impact, just like Steve's super glass.
      'Faster than a speeding bullet'
      'More powerful than a locomotive'

    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by metalmaster420 View Post
      Steve is getting the T-1000 ready for deployment. Should be ready about the same time SkyNet goes live. Lol.
      This
    1. feidhlim1986's Avatar
      feidhlim1986 -
      Instead of a death-grip on a small part of the phone, now you can have it everywhere. yay!
    1. Tashawn's Avatar
      Tashawn -
      Heavy, looks like.
    1. Captinsmooth's Avatar
      Captinsmooth -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Acciavatti View Post

      Austenitic stainless steel, which is a form of stainless that includes nickel, is useful for mobile devices because it is non-magnetic and does not block RF, WiFi, Bluetooth, or other wireless technologies utilizing electromagnetism. The band around the iPhone 4 is made of this material.
      Does this strike anyone else as a bad idea? This is the same metal band on the Iphone 4 that causes the death grip due to conductivity, and they want to make a whole phone out of this metal. While it is aesthetically pleasing, it makes one wonder if this would be a practical idea. Or is this new nitride coating suppose to prevent that issue?
    1. Aliquippakid's Avatar
      Aliquippakid -
      Are we talkin a bullet shot from a gun or a hand thrown bullet?
    1. NumbaOneI's Avatar
      NumbaOneI -
      its actually better this way. I already changed mine. Kinda tempted to throw it at some1.