Future iPads to use light, flexible "knitted" material? [Patent watch]

Another interesting Apple patent has made its way out of Cupertino, this one explaining a process in which Apple would use new "knitting technology" to create a flexible material for use in iPads and other products. The material could be made from not only metal fibers but glass fibers or other types of materials as well.

This could potentially give products a bit more physical flexibility as well. Seeing as this material probably would not be as durable as aluminum, I don't know if I can see Apple using this as the sole material to build future devices. I do see this as being useful for things such as insulation. Perhaps using some of this material could insulate vulnerable parts and protect from interference (antennagate anyone?).

Seeing as a knitting process would also allow Apple to control the texture and thickness of fibers, this type of technology could be used in products such as headphones as well. Anyone else have any theories on what Apple plans on using this new material process for?


Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 9 comments. Add yours.

jasonact says:

This sounds interesting, but it has all the markings of a patent with little usefulness or practicality now that Apple is hoping to protect for potential future use. As we all know, companies patent the most outlandish tech that may never see the light of day. In a sense, this isn't unlike the underpants gnomes' plan for "Profit": http://bit.ly/f8ibCM

Tony says:

It sounds like carbon fiber, Plain and simple.
More durable than aluminum and flexible/tough like hard plastic. Lighter too. Also much more expensive.

Drdoom420 says:

It sounds like an insulation, just like an hdmi cable, or speaker wire, it just doesn't seem useful in a phone or an iPad. Unless they continue with the current antanna design they could use it for insulation. But other then that it looks like a case of cover your ass or C.Y.A

Hussein says:

even if it was just woven glass fibers... this would actually make it more durable than aluminum given the density and weight that the glass fibers would be. They use glass fibers not for insulation thats spun glass. Fibers are used in cars, planes, boats, hockey sticks... anything that needs strength and/or weight reduction.

SockRolid says:

@ Tony - Agree that it sounds a whole lot like a carbon fiber process. And yes, CF and CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastics) are very expensive to produce. Also I'm not sure exactly how recyclable they are.
CF is extremely strong and lightweight, but not so scratch resistant. So maybe it could be used for internal structure bonded (glued) to a thin Liquidmetal outer enclosure...

SockRolid says:

Just remembered that Apple had a job opening for a carbon fiber manufacturing expert a few years ago. Maybe this is what that person came up with.

Hakala says:

I can see it now: iPad Spider Silk

perma says:

Nothing flexible about this- as the other posters mentioned, it's cloth re-inforced with resin, as in fiberglass or carbon fiber. RTM is a known method of molding glass-reinforced panels. I expect that the next ipads will use a composite back panel to reduce weight and costs while increasing RF permittivity- either FRP,or 'liquid metal'. Machining these guys out of billet aluminum is beautiful, but time and resource intensive vs molding. One of the biggest plusses of the Kindle vs the iPad is the weight differential.

UseYourBrain says:

Tony is right this simply a carbon fiber process, it is a more durable composite material. I really wish this blog would hire a industrial designer to give it better insight into product aesthetics, functionality and material process! I swear that some of the folks at tipb think they are designers but clearly are not.