Apple Going Towards Stainless Steel With A Nitride Coating? [Patent Watch]

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

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Reader comments

Apple Going Towards Stainless Steel With A Nitride Coating? [Patent Watch]


Awesome! If we don't see something like this or LiquidMetal used in 2011 on iPhone 5, I hope/suspect we'll see it by iPhone 6! Thanks for the heads up!

Omg i gotta upload pics of my 4 i didnt think about it but my stainless steel band is completely chromed out all the way around it looks so sweet i get somthin said everywhere i go when i get home ill uploaf pics

Nitride will definitely look cool, there's many other coating options they can use. I work in a machine shop and we send parts to get Nitrided often. Excellent wear prevention for the cost.

Next headline should read:
"Apple giving early 4 adopters a discount on next year's model."
Seems only fitting seeing how the 4 still has some hardware issues (proximity sensor) that can't be fixed with a bumper.

CJ: My proximity sensor got fixed perfectly with 4.1. I was worried after hearing a few reports of it not working right even after the update, but luckily mine works great after 4.1

@ CJ - not gonna happen in a million years. They're still giving away free bumpers if you call them, but you can also buy in store for $29. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice...just that it's not gonna happen. I kinda think they should put the next one (iPhone 5) at at least a $25 discount, for at least the white version, if not both, for all the people that waited for awhile or are still waiting on the white iPhone 4 - aka, the only animal Apple produces - a Unicorn.

Cool. Nitrided metal is so wear resistant. I'm a mechanical engineer in construction industry and I specify high strength alloy steel to be nitrided all the time. Nitriding usually gives metal a black look to it. It's exactly the same process that gun manufacturers like Glock use to harden their pistol components. Awesome stuff, but it's been around a while.

This sounds very good. Of course it will be interesting to see how they handle the manufacture because the best places for this sort process are either Glock in Austria as mentioned above, or the Robar Companies out in AZ.

I'm more familiar with nitriding aluminum. Definitely good, but a lot of wear (say where the hands hit the most) can make it look wierd if they use other colors.

iphone 5 will be SICK!! can't wait!! iP4 is definitely a stepping stone to an amazing iphone.... looking like odd numbered iphones will be the ones to focus on..... original iphone... then 3GS... then iP5.... 3G and 4 were stop gaps...

@LCW The iPhone 4 was hardly a stop gap--way more changes and improvements in the iPhone 4 vs the 3GS. Speaking of design alone, the 3GS was just a 3G with a speed boost.