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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. romeo_herman's Avatar
      romeo_herman -
      woooww, I Like This One...
    1. mortopher's Avatar
      mortopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by Captinsmooth View Post
      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?
      I think that is a different alloy, he just mentioned it in th article to show a difference. At least that is how I interpreted it.
    1. Mateor's Avatar
      Mateor -
      I like it
    1. alexevo's Avatar
      alexevo -
      Maybe if the app store allowed adult apps then the stainless steel wouldn't have problems getting hard....zing!
    1. risingkazuya05's Avatar
      risingkazuya05 -
      ^ Lol at above post
    1. jl1's Avatar
      jl1 -
      Should have did this to begin with! Let's make a $700 cell phone out of glass! Good for Apple, Bad for consumer! I love my iPhone 4 but im scared to death of dropping it.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Captinsmooth View Post
      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?
      The issue with the iPhone 4 band being this material is they also made it the antenna. So long as they don;t do that again (or make significant changes anyway), we don't really have to worry about it at all.
    1. babyblue_pimp's Avatar
      babyblue_pimp -
      How about reception? I was under the influence that the glass back helped with reception, I know i get better reception than my 3gs.
    1. Tashawn's Avatar
      Tashawn -
      If AppStore accept adult content then the steel back would've been in place by popular demand.. Lls
    1. zoso10's Avatar
      zoso10 -
      'Faster than a speeding bullet'
      'More powerful than a locomotive'
      ^^ hahah oohhhh that's terrible.. but so funny
    1. NumbaOneI's Avatar
      NumbaOneI -
      No issues wit mine. I changed it already.
    1. vhicke's Avatar
      vhicke -
      Is this easy to install...Just take the back off and that is it..
    1. jw_mahoney81's Avatar
      jw_mahoney81 -
      Is skynet up and running yet?

      As for the adult content, the steel cover should be easy to clean after it gets sticky!
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      I liked the 2G the best out of all of the iPhones myself forget all of the glass as far as I am concerned.
    1. TheOrioles33's Avatar
      TheOrioles33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by vhicke View Post
      Is this easy to install...Just take the back off and that is it..
      Yup
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      They must be harvesting this extra hard metal out of Jobs head.
    1. raduga's Avatar
      raduga -
      Quote Originally Posted by Captinsmooth View Post
      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?
      Thanks for pointing out this quote (which is utterly absurd!) that I'd somehow missed:

      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.
      Balderdash.

      Being non-ferromagnetic only means that it wouldn't interfere with the phone's magnetic compass. For RF (or other frequency radiation) the only property of significance is whether or not it's electrically conductive. ANY metallic case is going to affect radio transmission. The difference between alloys will be close to nil. Geometry of the case will make all the difference.
    1. Effenpig!'s Avatar
      Effenpig! -
      Quote Originally Posted by politicalslug View Post
      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.
      Definitely need some kind of magic to make something "a couple of mm thinner" by thinning down a part that's probably barely a mm thick to begin with!!!

      Not to mention replacing the front glass with metal might make it hard to see what's going on with the screen !!!
    1. Quaddy's Avatar
      Quaddy -
      even harder steel, sweet, but does that mean when you drop it onto a soft carpet the steel will still shatter?
    1. TheGrandFinale2001's Avatar
      TheGrandFinale2001 -
      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.
      Ha, that's funny