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back to article Carbon fiber MacBooks to appear soon?

Those long-rumored carbon fiber MacBooks may be inching closer towards reality, if anonymous Asian sources can be trusted. According to a post on the Japanese website Macotakara (Mac お宝, or Mac Treasure), "some engineer of Apple and Foxconn Technology" has requested carbon fiber parts from an unnamed Japanese company, and "the …

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Patent... really!

You might as well patent the idea of a cardboard box.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patent... really!

It's a registered design patent. People do it all the time.

You think Nike, Rolex or others don't protect their designs?

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Re: Patent... too late!

A container "for an electronic device or other object" has been prior art from around 1970, when the first fibreglass glider trailer came on the market. This is highly relevant: the fiberglass assembly is structural as well as forming the exterior shell.

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Anonymous Coward

This will

This will eke out a few quid extra from the faithful.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patent... too late!

You have to remember that we are talking about a company with executives that have to resist the temptation to file patents on the arrangement of their breakfast every morning.

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Re: Patent... really!

Claims shown below. The first claim is probably too general to stand up when tested but they time you get to claim 5 or so it is sounding pretty specific to a non expert like me and may be innovative. Any carbon fibre experts here? I really don't know if this is genius innovation or completely obvious but I fail to see the similarity to the concept of a cardboard box (although if you have a better way to make a cardboard box that nobody has demonstrated or published before the patent office is waiting for your application).

1. A housing, comprising: a frame formed from a first material; a skin formed from the first material separately from the frame and bonded to the frame; wherein the skin is formed from multiple layers of the first material; and a portion of the skin covers at least a wall of the frame.

2. The housing of claim 1, wherein the first material is a composite of at least fiber and a matrix suspending the fiber.

3. The housing of claim 2, wherein the first material is a carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

4. The housing of claim 2, wherein: an outer edge of each of the multiple layers form at least one stair-step pattern; the frame defines a tapered segment; and the multiple layers are adjacent the tapered segment.

5. The housing of claim 4, wherein: the frame is solid in cross-section; and at least a part of each layer of the multiple layers lies adjacent a unique portion of the tapered segment.

6. The housing of claim 4, wherein at least a portion of the stair-step pattern encircles at least a portion of the tapered segment.

7. The housing of claim 2, wherein: the frame defines at least one corner flange extending from at least one corner; and a portion of the skin overlies a portion of the corner flange.

8. A method for manufacturing an object, comprising: forming a frame from a fiber-in-matrix material; forming a skin from at least a first layer and a second layer of the fiber-in-matrix material; wrapping at least a portion of the skin about at least a portion of the frame; and bonding the skin to the frame.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein: the first layer comprises a first plurality of substantially aligned fibers in a matrix; the second layer comprises a second plurality of substantially aligned fibers in a matrix; the first plurality of fibers extends along a first axis; and the second plurality of fibers extends along a second axis different from the first axis.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the fiber-in-matrix material is carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

11. The method of claim 9, further comprising removing at least a portion of the second layer prior to wrapping at least the portion of the skin about at least the portion of the frame.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein the operation of forming a frame from a fiber-in-matrix material comprises: placing a granularized fiber-in-matrix material in a mold, the granularized fiber-in-matrix material comprising a fiber and a matrix; closing the mold; heating the mold until the matrix melts; and solidifying the matrix about the fibers to form the frame.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the operation of forming a skin comprises: cutting the first layer into a first cross shape; cutting the second layer into a second cross shape; and bonding the first layer to the second layer, such that the second cross shape exposes a portion of the first cross shape, thereby creating a stair-step pattern on the skin.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the operation of forming a frame from a fiber-in-matrix material further comprises forming a taper on at least a segment of the frame.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the operation of wrapping at least a portion of the skin about at least a portion of the frame comprises wrapping the stair-step pattern on the skin about the taper.

16. The method of claim 8, wherein: the frame defines at least a first, second and third edge of a three-dimensional object; the first edge and second edge define a first plane extending therebetween; the second edge and third edge define a second plane extending therebetween; the first edge and third edge define a third plane extending therebetween; and none of the first, second and third planes are parallel or overlapping.

17. A object, comprising: a frame defining four corners and four struts, each strut extending between two corners, thereby forming a rectangular shape.; and a cross-shaped skin comprising a plurality of layers, each layer of the plurality of layers having a smaller surface area than the layer below, the cross-shaped skin at least partially adjacent and bonded to at least a segment of the frame; wherein the cross-shaped skin encompasses the four struts; the four corners are exposed; and the frame and cross-shaped skin are formed from a fiber-in-matrix material.

18. The object of claim 17, wherein the skin forms a bottom surface of the object.

19. The object of claim 18, wherein the frame and cross-shaped skin are separately formed from the fiber-in-matrix material.

20. The object of claim 19, wherein each of the four corners comprises an inwardly-extending flange substantially parallel to the bottom surface.

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Re: Patent... too late!

So they are copying Acer, Sony, HP etc that have all released carbon fiber laptops at least as far back as 7-8 years ago, if not longer.

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Re: Patent... really!

No, nothing innovative at all.

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Stop

Re: Patent... really!

Didn't they do that to?

I seem to recall that Apple were miffed that Samsung seemd to have nicked there Packaging as well as their "Rounded Corners"...

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Stop

Re: Patent... really!

@Efros, Martin Gregorie, and AC:

You give the impression you haven't even glanced at the patent application before commenting on it. You're not alone; this is currently very common behaviour amongst Reg commentards, but I have no idea why people upvote you for it.

The patent is NOT for 'any case made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic'. Rather, it outlines a very specific design, and how it might be manufactured. The language is bit dense, but two materials are involved, and several processes. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic is not suitable for edges and corners- it can chip and fracture quite easily, so that place is taken by the 'spine' the patent refers to. The spine also acts as former during manufacture, and is then bonded or fused to the CFRP layers to form a whole that won't separate with thermal cycling.

@Efros- Just because people have used cardboard boxes in the past doesn't mean you can't innovate and make a cardboard box better suited to your purposes- and then patent it if it is non-obvious. Have you never heard of Tetrapak? Have you not seen those flat-packed cardboard wine boxes in supermarkets (the ones that unfold into six compartments and a handle)? What about the cardboard storage boxes that don't require tape to assemble, and the tops fold over to reinforce the handles? Not only did these shapes have to be considered, but also the process which makes them.

What is it that you have against the designers of cardboard boxes and manufacturing processes? Any reason you feel they shouldn't be rewarded for their efforts?

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@Joseph Lord

Given the three independent claims, being 1, 8 & 17, are so overly broad the other claims are there to try to make as much as possible stick by defining it more specifically. Clearly claim 1 is bogus as I can't tell you how many boats fit this description, heck a neighbor glued up a plywood dory in his shed over 30 years ago that is exactly this. Likewise #2 hangs up on many boats made since the early 70's. Frankly most of this is crap unless they can get away with something like 'carbon fibers are soooo novel and very different from all other fibers used for the last half century and this is unique because nobody would have thought of substituting carbon fibers for other types of fibers'. Somehow, I don't see that happening.

Finally, @AC 19:52, it isn't a design patent as it describes functionality not ornamentation and further it isn't a patent at all, it's only an application and therefore it has to be rubber stamped by some brainless 'let the court's figure it out' bureaucrat before it becomes totally stupid a patent.

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Trollface

Re: Patent... really!

I'm going to patent something incredibly small which when arranged into certain formations can be used for other purposes.

I shall call it The Atom, and sue everyone who uses them without my permission.

See how Apple likes those er, apples.

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Re: @Joseph Lord

Thanks. Common practice when filing is to start super broad in case it gets through but I suspect realistically they probably don't expect the independent claims to hold up.

Maybe none of it will hold up but the cardboard box comparison and many of the comments when I posted were inane.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will

"This will eke out a few quid extra from the faithful"......

This will eke out a few quid extra from the MUGS..... Apple would flog its grandmother to make more money, greed isn't appealing. I'm clever enough not to give them my hard earned!

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HMB
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Carbon Fibre - 1958

Very high strength Carbon Fibre - 1963

Apple Makes Simple Shape in Carbon Fibre and puts forward a patent - 2010

What do you say?

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But

It's carbon fibres in a mobile device... totally different!

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Re: But

And it does have rounded corners.

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Re: But

Rounded corners good, as is not using aluminium. I have been put off buying a Macbook by their oddly cold, sharp edged form (plus the vague tingling due to some earthing problem I really think they should sort out).

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Anonymous Coward

It isn't a patent on the material, but on the design. If you do anything different enough (and I don't see many carbon fibre laptops around) then it is always wise to protect it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But

I've had the earth tingle before. I would advise anyone with that problem to get their electricity supply checked as once I moved house it went, so I can only assume it was an earth problem with the supply.

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Stop

>What do you say?

I say: Read the patent before you comment on it, HMB.

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@earthing problem

Yeah I had that 'shock' too.

Worked out that (at least in the UK) if you dont use the supplied 3 pin adaptor then you aren't earthing the casing. Also, if your home extension/cabling/circuit isn't earthed correctly then the same happens.

I even called trading standards about it, when I measured the leakage at about 100+ volts.

The response was pretty much : If it works with the OEM powersupply and correctly earthed circuit, TOUGH.

Which I suppose is a valid point, but still... Accidents happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @earthing problem

Worrying, I always considered earthing things to be a failsafe not a way for the manufacturer to not care about such issues. Electrocuting people for not using official products is a bit extreme.

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So...

Can I patent making a mobile phone out of carbon fibre? I mean just to get in before Apple do the blindingly fucking obvious.

Also, diamond, bamboo, oak, cedar, MDF, acrylic, slate, paper mache, tungsten, titanium, aluminum, aluminium, unobtanium and ice. Oh and the skin of Steve Jobs. What? Too soon?

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Joke

Re: So...

No, No, No - Asus has already made a Bamboo laptop.

No one has ever made a Carbon Fiber laptop before!

Damn, forgot - typing this on a carbon fiber laptop... Oops - Patent away!

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Stop

Re: So...

Yes, you can make a laptop out of carbon fibre. You can't patent the concept making a laptop out of carbon fibre. You CAN patent a way of using the carbon fibre to make the form you require, if it is novel.

Apple's patent is NOT for 'any case made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic'. Rather, it outlines a very specific design, and how it might be manufactured.

Which would be, as you say, 'blindingly fucking obvious' to you had you chosen to read the patent before expressing outrage at it.

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JDX
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Re: So...

Don't be daft Dave, the 'rounded corners' joke is still totally ROFL so why miss an opportunity to prolong it.

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Been done surely?

Sony Vaio X505 from about 2004 anyone?

Cheers, Steve.

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Pint

Re: Been done surely?

Sony patented use of CFRP for laptop back then, did they?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Been done surely?

My Acer Ferrari 4005 (c2005) has (still) a carbon fibre lid.

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Anonymous Coward

Bunch of illiterate morons - let me guess, you're form the US? It's not a patent on carbon fibre, it's a specific patent on design and construction methods.

When you've managed to get past "See Spot Run", try reading the technical bits. Remember to grab a dictionary for those tricky 5-letter words.

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Yeah, because a laptop case is the cutting edge of carbon fibre lay up. I can't help thinking the F1 and aircraft industries are looking at it and thinking it's all a bit last century.

Also the 'illiterate morons' are probably from the US, not form it.

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Skippy: the evidence often indicates that they do form it.

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>Yeah, because a laptop case is the cutting edge of carbon fibre lay up. I can't help thinking the F1 and aircraft industries are looking at it and thinking it's all a bit last century.

@SkippyBing... even if you are using the same materials, the processes you would use for a F1 cars and aircraft would be different to consumer devices. F1 cars are hand-built in very small batches. Consumer goods often in the hundreds-of-thousands. If you used well used, tried and tested F1 and aerospace CF laying techniques to make consumer goods, you would go bust.

Additionally, a small device case is very different to F1 car parts- its function is to protect its contents. Carbon fibre in a F1 car is mostly designed to shatter. Had you actually tried to read the patent, you'd note that it isn't a homogenous square box with rounded corners. The corners an edge are a different material to the main back- if you knew anything about carbon fibre, you would know why this is.

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Facepalm

That would explain

The riot at Foxconn. Just as they've got used to hand beating the aluminium cases they've now got to do the same with carbon fibre.

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Anonymous Coward

The sheep deserve it

Wait until they get those carbon fiber shards stuck in their arses. They'll be cussing out Apple big time.

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Apple TV

It's probably for the Apple TV. TVs are too big to machine out of single block of aluminum and they would be too heavy if you did. CF is a modern and good looking alternative...

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Re: Apple TV

Possibly. (Ignoring all Apple rumour and just thinking of the material in hand). How light could one make big TV? For something on that scale, CF wouldn't be a bad choice, mechanically.

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Re: Apple TV

yeah, makes more sense. Because aluminium ALSO conducts heat very well, and carbon doesn't, so it would be a very bad material for a laptop casing (my MacBook Pro 13'' (*) gets quite warm)

(*) running Linux, no worry.

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Childcatcher

Madness

Never mind Patent vs Design Patent vs Registered Design,

Shirley the only protection they can have is Copyright, and only if hit has a big Apple with a bite out of it. Though that was them being fans of the Liverpool Lads.

When are they switching to ARM instead of intel in the Mac Book? That would be news, yet another Apple patent where x10 or more was invested in the "Patent" process than any real R or D isn't news. It would be news nearly if there was a halt on these.

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Re: Madness

>Shirley the only protection they can have is Copyright

@Mage. If you had actually read the patent before commenting on it, you'd see that it outlines a manufacturing process for a novel form of enclosure that is composed of a thermoplastic spine and CFRP laminates. That is firmly in Patent territory, not Design Copyright.

Read the thing you're commenting on, otherwise you risk looking like a tit. (Not that anyone here would notice, they haven't read it either)

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Happy

Re: Madness

What's fun is that half the people defending it on here are saying read the patent - it's design and so is valid! And the other half are saying read the patent it's not design and so is valid!

Though I have no proof (having never dismantled a carbon fiber laptops) I can't beleive that no one has ever added a spine to a carbon fibre structure to it to increase it's rigidity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Madness

Looking like a tit on here is noticed, mate, and you're the one continuously looking like a tit. You've said your piece once, so why keep banging on the way you are? Or are you paid by Apple? Going by the amount of effort you're putting in, it sure seems like it.

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Joke

Carbon fiber is great...

Doc told me I needed more carbon fiber (or some sort of fiber) in my diet, so I have been taking carbon fiber supplements every night. I can remain erect for hours, and my privates only weigh half as much now. Woo-hoo !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Carbon fiber is great...

Those carbon fiber supplements are suppose to be rubbed on your plums, not consumed orally.

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WTF?

Another Apple glue job

You have to wonder whether this is to stop people peeping inside as a glued carbon-fibre case might even prove a challenge to iFixit.

Nuts.

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Flame

BBQ!

I anyone else thinking that an overheating fanless CPU tightly contained in a carbon-based box could have "interesting" results?

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Anonymous Coward

how can you patent a carbon fibre case? mad...

Although if this kicks samsung & others into using Carbon Fibre I am all for it!

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Meh

Does anyone care?

At least some of the patent is for an engineering process, so I have no problem with that. It's a step up from the usual patent-the-bleedin'-obvious crap that makes lawyers happy.

My question is, does anyone care? I mean, suppose Apple do come out with a carbon-fiber laptop. That seems like a step backwards for me. The design aesthetic for Apple is architectural - "glass and steel" (well, aluminum). Why would they try and do something from 2005's design stylebook?

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working with

CFRP isn't that easy to work with.

Any patents would related around their moulding process

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