Apple has shown an increasing interest as of late in creating stainless steel devices that are more durable to everyday wear and tear, and have been experimenting with an external coating of nitride to make this possible.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published information relating to Apple's latest invention of a new application which they call "Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products." This describes a cost-effective system that would include placing a layer of nitride on top of the stainless steel exterior to help it wear better over time. The application reads:
In addition to providing a durable, hard surface that is both scratch and impact resistant, the nitride layer allows for the natural surface color and texture of the underlying stainless steel to remain visible to the user. It is this natural surface color and texture of the stainless steel that adds to the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the consumer electronic product, thereby enhancing the user's overall experience.
This concept would allow the look and feel of the stainless stell to be maintained while at the same time providing greater protection against scratches and other wear and tear that devices face on a day to day basis. It's also desireable because it is non-magnetic and would be less likely to inhibit 3G wireless signals as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. We all know this is rather important after the infamous antennagate Apple faced with the release of the iPhone 4.
[ Apple Insider ]
by Brian Tufo