Carbon fiber patent might be the answer to super thin MacBook displays

MacBook Pro 2018
MacBook Pro 2018 (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Future MacBook displays might get thinner.
  • If they do, they'll need to be rigid to avoid flexing.
  • Carbon fiber might be the answer.

Apple likes to make things as thin as possible, often to the detriment of rigidity. But we've already seen signs that the tide might be turning and Apple is accepting that thinness isn't everything. In the case of a MacBook display, rigidity is important, too. A new patent might have the answer in the form of carbon fiber.

The team at Apple Insider spotted a new patent that has been granted to Apple by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Titled "Electronic devices with thin display housings," it suggests that the aforementioned carbon fiber could be used to help strengthen future MacBook displays.

The claims of the patent indicate the use of a housing with a planar housing wall portion that uses a "carbon fiber composite material," possibly as part of a woven fabric which includes a polymer binder. The carbon fibers are said to run through the panel at such angles that it is not parallel to either the vertical or horizontal edges, minimizing the possibility of offering a convenient point for folding or creasing.

Apple would place the MacBook's casing on one side of the carbon fiber, complete with Apple logo. The display itself would then go on the other.

MacBook patent image

By doing that Apple believes that it could make thinner displays than it currently uses. In fact, the patent suggests that a combined display thickness of "less than 2mm" is possible. That's mind boggling, especially if Apple can pull off the rigidity needed to avoid the display flexing during use.

It is, as always, important to remember that Apple patents anything and everything its engineers come up with. That by no means guarentees that anything will turn into a shipping product. And if it does, it could be years down the line.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.