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Apple could trade aluminum for carbon fiber body in iPad 2 - rumor

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
In an effort to make its next-generation iPad lighter, Apple could replace the device's existing aluminum enclosure and instead make it high-strength carbon fiber, a new rumor suggests.

As he is wont to do, John Gruber of Daring Fireball made the comment in the footnotes of his latest post. However, he cautioned that he is not 100 percent confident in the rumor, which is why it was placed in the footnotes.

"I could publish things I'm only half-sure about, like the iPad 2 switching from aluminum to a lightweight high-strength carbon fiber body, but I don't, because I'm only half sure and I've only heard about it from second-hand sources who themselves are unsure about it," he wrote.

"And even if I were to off-handedly mention such speculation, I'd do so in a footnote and take pains to emphasize the uncertain nature of the information and the second-hand status of the sources thereof."

The post was made largely in response to a new report from Engadget, which claimed that "engineering issues" forced Apple to remove features like an SD card and Retina Display from its second-generation iPad. Gruber himself previously responded in January and said claims of a high-resolution Retina Display on the next iPad were "too good to be true."

This week, he added that "nothing" has changed about the iPad 2 since January. He said it's very uncommon for major features to be axed from a device from Apple at the last minute, as "most major Apple products are pretty stable two months out from release."

For its part, AppleInsider reported in January that the next iPad will not have an SD card slot or a Retina Display.

The most prominent example of Apple removing a feature from a new device just before its introduction came in 2009, when Apple planned to add a rear-facing camera to the iPod touch. AppleInsider first reported just days before Apple's media event that technical issues forced the company to scrap the feature.

As for the rumor about a carbon fiber enclosure, a patent application discovered by AppleInsider last November highlighted Apple's interest in using the material to create a lighter iPad. The Cupertino, Calif., company has shown interest in using either a layered carbon fiber material or a spine or frame used to support a carbon fiber skin.



Apple could mold a supportive spine to a carbon fiber skin for a unique implementation of the material, in order to address issues where carbon fiber can crack or break if bent or rolled in a certain way. Apple's patent application, which shows an iPad-like device in its accompanying illustrations, notes that devices with a metal back are durable, but can be heavier and more expensive.

Apple showed interest in building a carbon fiber MacBook Air in 2008, in an effort to make its diminutive notebook even thinner and lighter. Carbon fiber is an extremely lightweight material comprised of very thin fibers about .005 to .010 millimeters in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms.
post #2 of 57
Bunk

Expensive, prone to cracking, poor thermal conductors, poooor recycling. Composites just are not economically viable imo. How much weight would you actually save for those other tradeoffs?
post #3 of 57
This is ridiculous...but anything for a few more pageviews...right, AI? The days leading up to an apple announcement are like "sweeps" in the TV industry - get your pageviews up as high as possible to set advertising rates. Everyone knows traffic spikes when Apple is about to announce.
post #4 of 57
Soooo....maybe it's a possibility, perhaps?
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post #5 of 57
This site is becoming more and more ridiculous. A footnote in a blog used by it's author to highlight the idiocy or promoting rumor is then used as the basis for an article on this site to promote a rumor!? WTF!

I am going to spend less time on this site. It has become less informative and more noise.
post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleStud View Post

This is ridiculous...but anything for a few more pageviews...right, AI? The days leading up to an apple announcement are like "sweeps" in the TV industry - get your pageviews up as high as possible to set advertising rates. Everyone knows traffic spikes when Apple is about to announce.

You shouldn't blame AI, if you want to place blame, place that onto the readers. Nowadays we have demand-driven media and if readers want to read anything with an Apple label on it regardless of content, it's not AI's problem to generate them.
post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogan View Post

This site is becoming more and more ridiculous. A footnote in a blog used by it's author to highlight the idiocy or promoting rumor is then used as the basis for an article on this site to promote a rumor!? WTF!

I am going to spend less time on this site. It has become less informative and more noise.

they're maximizing pageviews since traffic always spikes when Apple is close to announcing a product. It's cheap and makes AI look like a tabloid, but it makes sense for business I guess.
post #8 of 57
I don't care. With what I know, I will buy it anyway. But after that I'll probably wait until the liquid metal version comes out ;-)
post #9 of 57
This is possible, but I'm not convinced. We’re told that CF is really light and strong, but it needs a minimum thickness in order to exceed the strength to weight ratio of aluminum. On top of that, CF is more prone to defeats in production can can't be formed with the exactness of aluminium where Apple can add or take away a little thickness to idealize it for the iPad 2's needs.

Then there is recycliablity. Sure, the carbon is recyclyable, but the resin that is used in it often isn't it. Finally, it acts like a Faraday cage within the layers of CF blocking RF means it won’t be a good replacement to boost wireless connectivity.

I’m not saying it can't or won't be beneficial for Apple, just that the info so far suggests that it's not likely to happen with the size of CF they are suggesting. I’d first expect Apple to experiment with forming smaller, less obvious pieces in shipping products to test it out. For instance, in a remote control or an iPod, or really just anything that doesn’t take up a square foot of space and is the 2nd most popular Apple product (and perhaps 1st in mindshare) currently shipping.
post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

This is possible, but I'm not convinced. Were told that CF is really light and strong, but it needs a minimum thickness in order to exceed the strength to weight ratio of aluminum. On top of that, CF is more prone to defeats in production can can't be formed with the exactness of aluminium where Apple can add or take away a little thickness to idealize it for the iPad 2's needs.

Then there is recycliablity. Sure, the carbon is recyclyable, but the resin that is used in it often isn't it. Finally, it acts like a Faraday cage within the layers of CF blocking RF means it wont be a good replacement to boost wireless connectivity.

Im not saying it can't or won't be beneficial for Apple, just that the info so far suggests that it's not likely to happen with the size of CF they are suggesting. Id first expect Apple to experiment with forming smaller, less obvious pieces in shipping products to test it out. For instance, in a remote control or an iPod, or really just anything that doesnt take up a square foot of space and is the 2nd most popular Apple product (and perhaps 1st in mindshare) currently shipping.

So you think it would be prudent for Apple to produce and ship a carbon fibre remote to prove prove proof of concept i.e structural integrity and eliminate the enormous heft of a remote?!
post #11 of 57
I guess there are some manufacturing proccesses to make this as easy as the current shell?
Seems like a high labor/machining part to make. Even if the mold is excellant you are still going to have some level of machining to clean it up. Also, the current shell is pretty thin and I would guess CF would be a lot thicker in relative terms.
I don't clai mto know a lot about making carbon fiber parts in mass....

Logisticaldron makes some good points a couple of posts up...
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogan View Post

So you think it would be prudent for Apple to produce and ship a carbon fibre remote to prove prove proof of concept i.e structural integrity and eliminate the enormous heft of a remote?!

Is that really what you think I implied? I thought my implication was clear in that the ability for manufacturing defects, cost and cracks are a real issue. Weight can be calculated to the atomic level, so that is the one factor we do know.

Just look at the LiquidMetal SIM ejectors. Do you really think Apple did a test run of those to test the weight? Of course not, it was to test production possibilities on a less important and simpler level.
post #13 of 57
Hilarious that Gruber mentions a rumor he is half sure about in passing, and all the Apple blogs regurgitate it as front-page news.
post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In an effort to make its next-generation iPad lighter, Apple could replace the device's existing aluminum enclosure and instead make it high-strength carbon fiber, a new rumor suggests. ...

While I actually do believe that Apple is about to introduce a carbon fibre iPad, this "article" is lame. Someone should do a bit more research before publishing.

For instance there are other more interesting patents on carbon fibre technology Apple has come up with that can be found with a simple search or a daily visit to Patently Apple (which is where the drawings and most of the facts of this story come from). There were also rumours as long ago as last year about Apple experimenting with this that describe some of the Interesting results.

All this is, is a reprinting of Gruber's footnote from this week, combined with information from Patently Apple. Regurgitated for hits with no extra information, and no effort at all on the part of the author.

I'm not trying to be mean, it's just that (IMO of course) this is the last, good, Apple rumours site and it used to be far more professional than it currently is. Where the f*ck are we going to go to get some facts and decent behind the scenes analysis if Apple Insider is hell bent on becoming the next Gizmodo of online journalism?
post #15 of 57
Keep the news flowing, some of us still appreciate what you do AI.
post #16 of 57
Nop. No carbon. This requires a completely different production process. And carbon production is difficult to scale up.
Its also prone to all kinds of problems, like cracking sounds when stressed and very easily scratching or 'shaving'. Look at the bicycle industry for details.

It is very probable that a future pad, pod, MacBook iMac has a unibody liquid metal shell.
It has three advantages compared to aluminum: it's cheap and light and can be injected in a casting mold.

J.
post #17 of 57
What does this even say "As he is wont to do"? Please proofread your articles before posting!
post #18 of 57
I put this kind of news in the same category from earlier this week...

MBP
1) Liquid Metal Case (Wrong)
2) SSD 16gig OS Boot Drive (Wrong)
3) Option to remove DVD and replace with SSD (Wrong)
4) 17" to come standard with SSD and 8gig of Ram (Wrong)
5) MBP will weigh X amount less (wrong)
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post

What does this even say "As he is wont to do"? Please proofread your articles before posting!

adjective
1.accustomed; used (usually followed by an infinitive): He was wont to rise at dawn.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post

What does this even say "As he is wont to do"? Please proofread your articles before posting!

OK, it's a relatively olde worlde word, as it were, but it's perfectly legit. Check a dictionary before posting!
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

I put this kind of news in the same category from earlier this week...

MBP
1) Liquid Metal Case (Wrong)
2) SSD 16gig OS Boot Drive (Wrong)
3) Option to remove DVD and replace with SSD (Wrong)
4) 17" to come standard with SSD and 8gig of Ram (Wrong)
5) MBP will weigh X amount less (wrong)

I believe those were all predicated upon a case change, which didnt happen this time around. With multiple stages of development lasting years its possible that all those are true (I know some are true) and will arrive in due time. As always, take rumors with a grain of salt.
post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

This is possible, but I'm not convinced. Were told that CF is really light and strong, but it needs a minimum thickness in order to exceed the strength to weight ratio of aluminum. On top of that, CF is more prone to defeats in production can can't be formed with the exactness of aluminium where Apple can add or take away a little thickness to idealize it for the iPad 2's needs.

Then there is recycliablity. Sure, the carbon is recyclyable, but the resin that is used in it often isn't it. Finally, it acts like a Faraday cage within the layers of CF blocking RF means it wont be a good replacement to boost wireless connectivity.

Im not saying it can't or won't be beneficial for Apple, just that the info so far suggests that it's not likely to happen with the size of CF they are suggesting. Id first expect Apple to experiment with forming smaller, less obvious pieces in shipping products to test it out. For instance, in a remote control or an iPod, or really just anything that doesnt take up a square foot of space and is the 2nd most popular Apple product (and perhaps 1st in mindshare) currently shipping.

Add in poor thermal conductivity compared to aluminum.

Considering the molding process for creating carbon fiber parts, I think ramping up production to the quantities Apple would need would add yet another headache to Apple's already strained supply chain. And in today's world of rumors and leaked information, if the iPad is to be released next week, we surely would have heard by now if some massive new CF production line was starting up someplace. No way would it have been kept a secret, even by Apple.

I could see Apple using CF (in iPad 3) as an internal frame if it allowed them to use a thinner aluminum (or other material) skin and still maintain overall stiffness. But even that could be tricky to bond the metal to the CF reliably.
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogan View Post


I am going to spend less time on this site. It has become less informative and more noise.

FWIW, that means you won't be reading any Apple blogs then, because most have linked to the Gruber post.
If you get upset about drooling anticipation, then you're engaged in the wrong community. Its always been an Apple aficionado passtime. Deal with it.
post #24 of 57
I was "hoping" they would be true this time around as I was ready to buy one if they were! I will now wait until the next release which I am pretty sure will be a true redesign. I was thinking like so many others that this release of the MBP would have followed the MBA.
post #25 of 57
Transparent aluminum is the ticket laddy!
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by markb View Post

Bunk

Expensive, prone to cracking, poor thermal conductors, poooor recycling. Composites just are not economically viable imo. How much weight would you actually save for those other tradeoffs?

Compared to milling a billet of aluminum, it isn't that expensive. Recycling is actually viable, in fact it could easily be made of recycled carbon fiber given the small size. The cracking issue is a function of how it is designed, and the thermal conductivity can be addressed with a composite housing with an integrated heat sink.

But, I do agree that the weight savings is not really enough to justify the added complexity. The unibody process is simple, repeatable, and does not require the same expertise and equipment as carbon composites. The idea of seeing 8-10,000 iPad bodies coming out of an autoclave in one batch is a hard one to get my mind around.
post #27 of 57
I'm starting to think Apple is successfully closing all its leaks. This week everybody got the MBP details wrong and none of the rumour sites knew about Lion. Those were not likely closely guarded secrets (compared to the iPad 2). The fact that Apple felt comfortable revealing so many details about Lion - which is probably the most dramatic update to OS X since it was released - a week before its "Come see what 2011 is the year of" event makes me think we're going to get more than just a minor iPad spec update and nobody has a clue what's going on. (Nobody has any details of iOS 5 either.) That said, after seeing the reviews for the Motorola Xoom, I think they'd be fine just releasing a minor spec update. They probably have a whole extra year before the competition gets itself together.
post #28 of 57
Is it getting to a stage where AI is going to post an article about everything and anything out there, so if 'rumor x' comes true AI can say they reported it.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

I was "hoping" they would be true this time around as I was ready to buy one if they were! I will now wait until the next release which I am pretty sure will be a true redesign. I was thinking like so many others that this release of the MBP would have followed the MBA.

I don't get this sort of comment, I'm not saying you don;t mean it, but is the choice of material for the rear casing really the deciding factor in purchasing one? Especially on a device where teh whole point is that the device itself it meant to be ignored and unobtrustive. I know, it may be a couple hundred grams lighter, but still...

Mind you, I am anti-carbon fibre, I think it looks cheap and tacky, although that is coming from the car parts aftermarket where carbon fibre dashboards/handbrake covers/etc do my head in also.

It's the same with the dealbreakers, how often do you see a commenter come out with a "Dealbreaker!" comment, because of some minor point like only having 2 USb ports and such. We are a fussy lot, me included, I suppose.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

Keep the news flowing, some of us still appreciate what you do AI.

Seconded.

(What a bunch of curmudgeonly whiners. You'd think they had a paid subscription to AI).
post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogan View Post

This site is becoming more and more ridiculous. A footnote in a blog used by it's author to highlight the idiocy or promoting rumor is then used as the basis for an article on this site to promote a rumor!? WTF!

I am going to spend less time on this site. It has become less informative and more noise.

No need to be so dramatic about it. Here's how you deal with it:
Scan the headlines and make a judgement. Its as simple as that. As has been pointed out, at peak rumour time rumours are frequent and often extremely flimsy. The title of this article says it all. If you have been hanging around a while you can tell its a big nothing.

Don't read anything you are not interested in or deem unworthy.
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by markb View Post

Bunk

Expensive, prone to cracking, poor thermal conductors, poooor recycling. Composites just are not economically viable imo. How much weight would you actually save for those other tradeoffs?

You said it. Aint gonna happen. Liquidmetal body is what I am predicting.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by smartin684 View Post

You said it. Aint gonna happen. Liquidmetal body is what I am predicting.

Agreed.
post #34 of 57
One things seems to still be overlooked the day after the MBP announcements: Will the next iPad get Thunderbolt? Is that what that mDP looking port is for on those leaked case designs?

The placement of that potential mDP port seems odd to me. I want to know if its possible for Thunderbolt to be added to the system directly with the pinout using the deprecated FireWire ports in the 30-pin dock connector.

There are no specs of Thunderbolts pinouts, but we do have details for both the 30-pin connector and DisplayPort.
30-pin connector pinout (image)

DisplayPort pinout (image) Could the 6 pins for USB3.0 built into DP, be used for Thunderbolt data transfer for a direct 6-pin exchange for the 30-pin dock connector? I sure hope so! Note that Thunderbolt pushes less power than FW does, and that DP and mDP ports have the same number of pins.

Note that if the iPad 2 doesnt have this that the other iDevices surely wont get this as its a very large chip for a mobile device. Apple might have a less powerful, smaller version of the Thunderbolt chip for iDevices that, say, push half the data, but so far that doesnt seem likely.
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post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Agreed.

I'm not sold on that one, what are the benefits over Aluminium? A bit more scratch resistant? Not worth the cost, as it's not cheap stuff. I was under the impression that it was ideal for high wear/load components, special bolts/fixings etc, but as a large sheet of effectively casing material, it's overkill.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

One things seems to still be overlooked the day after the MBP announcements: Will the next iPad get Thunderbolt? Is that what that mDP looking port is for on those leaked case designs?

The placement of that potential mDP port seems odd to me. I want to know if it’s possible for Thunderbolt to be added to the system directly with the pinout using the deprecated FireWire ports in the 30-pin dock connector.

There are no specs of Thunderbolt’s pinouts, but we do have details for both the 30-pin connector and DisplayPort.

30-pin connector pinout (image)

DisplayPort pinout (image) Could the 6 pins for USB3.0 built into DP, be used for Thunderbolt data transfer for a direct 6-pin exchange for the 30-pin dock connector? I sure hope so! Note that Thunderbolt pushes less power than FW does, and that DP and mDP ports have the same number of pins.

Note that if the iPad 2 doesn’t have this that the other iDevices surely won’t get this as it’s a very large chip for a mobile device. Apple might have a less powerful, smaller version of the Thunderbolt chip for iDevices that, say, push half the data, but so far that doesn’t seem likely.


Think you are misunderstanding how Thunderbolt works, it's basically like exposing bits of your innards to the world via a connector, and the whole works relies on PCI Express as the hardware transport mechanism. That's all very much PC and X86 territory, there are no expansion buses at all from what I understand within the iPad, much less PCI Express ones. I can't see the existing iPad getting this at all. However, a newer iPad next time with a revised motherboard architecture might make is possible, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day as a host device, probably only as an endpoint device (it's not going to have 2 ports for passing through) for increased syncing speed? I've probably just contradicted myself there but never mind!
post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post

Nop. No carbon. This requires a completely different production process. And carbon production is difficult to scale up.
Its also prone to all kinds of problems, like cracking sounds when stressed and very easily scratching or 'shaving'. Look at the bicycle industry for details.

It is very probable that a future pad, pod, MacBook iMac has a unibody liquid metal shell.
It has three advantages compared to aluminum: it's cheap and light and can be injected in a casting mold.

Whether or not they use carbon fibre, your statement about liquid metal is wrong.

- not lighter
- not cheaper

In fact, it's metal just like any other so it's far heavier than carbon fibre. It's also prohibitively expensive for large scale (bigger than a tiny cog or gear) use. This is why it failed to catch on in consumer products requiring Apple to essentially rescue the company from bankruptcy by offering millions of dollars for an exclusive licence.
post #38 of 57
I think it's more likely Apple with use a solid platinum block and hollow it out. /sarcasm.
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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

One things seems to still be overlooked the day after the MBP announcements: Will the next iPad get Thunderbolt? Is that what that mDP looking port is for on those leaked case designs?

The placement of that potential mDP port seems odd to me. I want to know if its possible for Thunderbolt to be added to the system directly with the pinout using the deprecated FireWire ports in the 30-pin dock connector.

There are no specs of Thunderbolts pinouts, but we do have details for both the 30-pin connector and DisplayPort.
30-pin connector pinout (image)

DisplayPort pinout (image) Could the 6 pins for USB3.0 built into DP, be used for Thunderbolt data transfer for a direct 6-pin exchange for the 30-pin dock connector? I sure hope so! Note that Thunderbolt pushes less power than FW does, and that DP and mDP ports have the same number of pins.

Note that if the iPad 2 doesnt have this that the other iDevices surely wont get this as its a very large chip for a mobile device. Apple might have a less powerful, smaller version of the Thunderbolt chip for iDevices that, say, push half the data, but so far that doesnt seem likely.

Hey ... get back to work!
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post #40 of 57
[QUOTE=I'm not sold on that one, what are the benefits over Aluminium? A bit more scratch resistant? Not worth the cost, as it's not cheap stuff. I was under the impression that it was ideal for high wear/load components, special bolts/fixings etc, but as a large sheet of effectively casing material, it's overkill.[/QUOTE]

i guess that boeing is going to recall (not released yet) the 787 dreamliner because the fuselage is too large. there is so much misinformation about the properties of cf that it's almost not worth discussing.

btw, most of the indy 500 and daytona racers use them on their brake linings. in fact if you have money and love your ferrari (etc) you can already order cf brake pads. and as far as conductivity, it's better than copper.

and the price will come down as new evolutionary manufacturing techniques are already being used.
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