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Apple granted rights to new process for creating high-quality curved glass

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
While curved glass enclosures have emerged as a hallmark of Samsung's latest smartphone designs, it was revealed this week that Apple has also expressed interest in the subject, developing a safer and more cost-effective manufacturing process that would allow the company to create thinner, higher-quality convex enclosure for devices as small as an iPhone but as large as a Thunderbolt display.

A Prototype iPhone with curved glass


In a patent filing awarded to the company this week, Apple notes that traditional "dropout" and "vacuum" processes for slumping or shaping glass over a convex mold during a heating process present a number of drawbacks due to the fixed alignment systems for which they rely. These include the formation of "perimetrical flanges" on the edges of the glass that then need to be ground away, unintentional stretches or cracks in the glass that result from the rapid heating process, and the use of potentially harmful chemicals and gas.

Most dropout processes also involve heating the glass relatively rapidly, which has proven effective for molding relatively thick glass in excess of half an inch. But the process can often prove detrimental to the quality of relatively thin glass, which can lead to lower yields and waste. As such, Apple says these methods add unnecessary complexity, cost, time and labor to the glass shaping processes.

Instead, Apple's patented process hinges on a alignment system that's configured to move away from the glass as the temperature increases during the slumping process, as opposed to an alignment system that remains affixed to the material throughout the entire process. In this way, the glass is free to bend around the mold without interference -- a method Apple says will allow it to produce higher quality, thinner convex glass more safely and cost effectively.

Apple Patent Example


Still, it's important to note that the advent of the filing, dubbed "Glass alignment for high temperature processes," doesn't necessarily indicate that we'll see an iPhone hit the market with a screen similar to those found on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. It's only an indication that Apple has explored the idea in earnest in the past.

For instance, Apple's ongoing patent war with Samsung recently saw the disclosure of several dozen prototype iPhone and iPad designs that the company considered but ultimately decided against. One of these, "Proto 0335" or "N90" (pictured above), shows a candy bar-shaped iPhone with what appears to be a slightly convex glass screen. Thus, it's possible the patent, originally submitted in March of 2009, was filed during the design process of that prototype.

Alternatively, the potential also exists for Apple to leverage the patented process for curved glass on future products that have yet come to light. For example, the company wrote in the filing that its technique is not only suitable for glass covers assembled in small form factor electronic devices like mobile phones and media players, but also user input devices such as mice or trackpads, personal digital assistants, remote controls, and glass displays for other relatively larger form factor electronic devices such as "portable computers, tablet computers, displays, monitors, and televisions."
post #2 of 72

Talk about a frivolous patent¡

post #3 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Talk about a frivolous patent¡

Really? So you're an expert in forming glass, too?

The key part is here:
Quote:
Instead, Apple's patented process hinges on a alignment system that's configured to move away from the glass as the temperature increases during the slumping process, as opposed to an alignment system that remains affixed to the material throughout the entire process.

Having spent part of my career in glass and ceramic forming processes, I'm not aware of existing systems that do that. And while it would be very difficult to implement, the potential advantages are huge.
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post #4 of 72
"So Apple has patented curved surfaces now?"

/s

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post #5 of 72
I can't see this being used on any glass area that has a display that requires visually perfect image. If we're talking about the forehead and chin of the iPhone glass or the small bezel sides, then sure, but not for the display itself. Apple likes to test out ideas in small scale and capacity (e.g.: LiquidMetal SIM ejector) so perhaps we might see a curved GG2 remote control (if we assume it's for something with a display, unlike a mouse) for an Apple TV or HDTV that would display capacitance buttons as needed all under a sleek, curved glass BT remote control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Really? So you're an expert in forming glass, too?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation#Temherte_slaq.C3.AE
Edited by SolipsismX - 12/26/12 at 11:28am

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post #6 of 72

 

He's just sore because he apparently can't read what I've written in another thread, so he's taking it out on me in every post since.

post #7 of 72
Curved glass isnt that hard to make, just look at all the various shapes of drinking glasses there are. Its probably much harder to make it perfectly flat than curved.
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post #8 of 72

Gosh. If this really works, you could build floor-to-celing windows out of curved glass. That would enable you to build a whole 4 story building with curved glass, shaped like a space ship!!

post #9 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by myopicman View Post

Gosh. If this really works, you could build floor-to-celing windows out of curved glass. That would enable you to build a whole 4 story building with curved glass, shaped like a space ship!!

 

?

post #10 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Really? So you're an expert in forming glass, too?

Eludes you sarcasm does.
post #11 of 72
post #12 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by myopicman View Post

Gosh. If this really works, you could build floor-to-celing windows out of curved glass. That would enable you to build a whole 4 story building with curved glass, shaped like a space ship!!

The patent appears to be specifically for devices not for building structures. Curved glass for such structures is difficult but possible.

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post #13 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I can't see this being used on any glass area that has a display that requires visually perfect image. If we're talking about the forehead and chin of the iPhone glass or the small bezel sides, then sure, but not for the display itself. Apple likes to test out ideas in small scale and capacity (e.g.: LiquidMetal SIM ejector) so perhaps we might see a curved GG2 remote control (if we assume it's for something with a display, unlike a mouse) for an Apple TV or HDTV that would display capacitance buttons as needed all under a sleek, curved glass BT remote control.

I agree. As I said, actually implementing this would be extremely difficult. If Apple finds a way to make it practical, it would be a huge breakthrough in glass manufacturing - in spite of what some uninformed blowhards say.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

He's just continuing to show that I don't know what I'm talking about most of the time.

There. I fixed it for you.
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post #14 of 72
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post
There. I fixed it for you.

 

My, that's more childish than I thought you'd be. Normally I just let people take stuff out on me, and I think you've reached your quota here. Please don't further.

post #15 of 72
They're patenting a manufacturing process, as many, many, many other companies have done throughout the history of business. I don't know about the byplay with the other folks here, not the uses to which this process will be put, but it's often newsworthy when a manufacturer develops a new process for creating something - even if it IS Apple doing it. This is humanity moving forward and developing new ways of doing things, and that's often good to know.

It's just too bad that there are folks out there, especially at other sites, who want to read this into their own private little wars or PR campaigns.
post #16 of 72
Originally Posted by droslovinia View Post
They're patenting a manufacturing process, as many, many, many other companies have done throughout the history of business. I don't know about the byplay with the other folks here, not the uses to which this process will be put, but it's often newsworthy when a manufacturer develops a new process for creating something - even if it IS Apple doing it. This is humanity moving forward and developing new ways of doing things, and that's often good to know.

 

Yes! Exactly! This is just how patents should be; Apple isn't patenting "curved glass", they're patenting a new way of making it. Just as Apple didn't patent "rounded rectangles", they patented a theretofore unused product design.

post #17 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Curved glass isnt that hard to make, just look at all the various shapes of drinking glasses there are. Its probably much harder to make it perfectly flat than curved.

Flat glass is pretty easy. There are a number of techniques for doing so. Otherwise it would be I possible to have the very large plasma and LCD TV set out now.

But curved is very difficult. You're thinking of very low quality glassware. Low quality when compared to optical processes, that is. Doing very thin and optical quality is very difficult in curved. But it has been done.

I just don't see why anyone would want to. Anyone here remember old monitors and TV sets? No flat glass there. The CRT's were curved because of the problems with angular dispersion of the electron beam, which distorted the further it got from the center. When Zenith came out with the first true flat screen monitor, it looked concave, because we were so used to the convex monitors we used. Since flat is better than curved in a screen, why would we want curved? If the s Rees behind is flat, then we have the same problem of our finger being away from the front of the screen, but this time, the distance would vary. Not good and we would get more reflections again from going back to two inner surfaces. If the screen is curved, then we really need to ask; For what purpose?
post #18 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

... Normally I just let people take stuff out on me, and I think you've reached your quota here. Please don't further.

 

Not to jump in on someone else's argument, but this statement strikes me as a rather obvious falsehood.  Form my perspective, you spend enormous amounts of time arguing back and forth, rarely ever leave the last word to someone else (even when you are clearly wrong), and have a deep desire/need to "win" every argument you get into.  

 

Notice that I put "win" in quotes though.  There is a big difference between winning an argument and being right about what was argued.  

 

You may "win" each argument by having the last word, and exerting your moderator privileges to confound your opponents, but that is quite different from being "right" all the time.  Seems to me that you are right about what you are talking about roughly 80-90% of the time (as am I, and "jragosta" and many many others on this forum), but that you have some grand illusion wherein you think that browbeating your opponents into submission, or merely speaking louder than anyone else, equals "victory" on the other 10-20% of the time.  

 

It really doesn't.    

post #19 of 72

 

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

My, that's more childish than I thought you'd be. Normally I just let people take stuff out on me, and I think you've reached your quota here. Please don't further.

 

Lol, you use the exact same 'there i corrected it for you' ALL THE TIME

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

 

Not to jump in on someone else's argument, but this statement strikes me as a rather obvious falsehood.  Form my perspective, you spend enormous amounts of time arguing back and forth, rarely ever leave the last word to someone else (even when you are clearly wrong), and have a deep desire/need to "win" every argument you get into.  

 

Notice that I put "win" in quotes though.  There is a big difference between winning an argument and being right about what was argued.  

 

You may "win" each argument by having the last word, and exerting your moderator privileges to confound your opponents, but that is quite different from being "right" all the time.  Seems to me that you are right about what you are talking about roughly 80-90% of the time (as am I, and "jragosta" and many many others on this forum), but that you have some grand illusion wherein you think that browbeating your opponents into submission, or merely speaking louder than anyone else, equals "victory" on the other 10-20% of the time.  

 

It really doesn't.    

 

I wouldn't even call it a win. A win isn't when you think you won and everybody else thinks that you are an idiot... iPhone 5

Back to the article, I think contrary to some that a screen just a little curved like on that prototype could be a nice idea. But that will never happen because it takes too much space.

post #20 of 72
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post
Not to jump in on someone else's argument, but this statement strikes me as a rather obvious falsehood.  

 

I allow many things said to me that would be infractions said to anyone else.


Form my perspective, you spend enormous amounts of time arguing back and forth, rarely ever leave the last word to someone else (even when you are clearly wrong), and have a deep desire/need to "win" every argument you get into.  

 

Oh, that's quite false, which you really ought to know personally.


…exerting your moderator privileges to confound your opponents…

 

This strikes me as amusing. Had to look up the definition of confound to make sure I was right. I was, of course, but it's still amusing, your use.

 

…merely speaking louder than anyone else…

 

Oh, I don't do that very often.


Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post
I wouldn't even call it a win. A win isn't when you think you won and everybody else thinks that you are an idiot...

 

I fail to see how it's my fault that Apple has chosen to forgo reason and common sense to give products names that have nothing to do with the product itself. "I have a MacBook. The big one, no screen and 50 pounds." Makes a ton of sense¡ They can do whatever they wish; doesn't mean it works out well. The iPhone 7 is the 10th iPhone. And people want to let that pass and still make fun of Microsoft's terrible naming/numbering scheme.

post #21 of 72

Curved glass? Meh. Samsung will have flexible displays next year.

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post #22 of 72
People don't get it, there are two kind of patents: design patents, and process patents. One protects the design of a product, the other the process to make it. A product as such is not patentable per se, unless that product is the process itself.

So yes, curved glass did exist before, others can continue to make curved glass and use it, but they can't use the more efficient and precise process to create curved glass that Apple invented. Other companies will have to either license the process from Apple, continue using older processes, or invent a new, even better process that does not infringe on the Apple process.
post #23 of 72
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post
A product as such is not patentable per se, unless that product is the process itself.

 

I thought that a concept was not patentable? But rather that an implementation of said concept (the product) is.

post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Flat glass is pretty easy. There are a number of techniques for doing so. Otherwise it would be I possible to have the very large plasma and LCD TV set out now.
But curved is very difficult. You're thinking of very low quality glassware. Low quality when compared to optical processes, that is. Doing very thin and optical quality is very difficult in curved. But it has been done.
I just don't see why anyone would want to. Anyone here remember old monitors and TV sets? No flat glass there. The CRT's were curved because of the problems with angular dispersion of the electron beam, which distorted the further it got from the center. When Zenith came out with the first true flat screen monitor, it looked concave, because we were so used to the convex monitors we used. Since flat is better than curved in a screen, why would we want curved? If the s Rees behind is flat, then we have the same problem of our finger being away from the front of the screen, but this time, the distance would vary. Not good and we would get more reflections again from going back to two inner surfaces. If the screen is curved, then we really need to ask; For what purpose?

Ahh gotcha. Thanks
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post #25 of 72
concept != process

Concept is an idea e.g. "let's make the MagicMouse scratch proof by using a glass instead of plastic touch surface"
Process is a method of manufacturing e.g "we bend glass by putting it on top of a mouse and then let an elephant step on it, until it has the proper shape"

Apple's patent covers a specific way of permanently curving the glass in a way that requires less manufacturing steps and produces less waste, I.e. is more cost efficient, precise and environmentally friendly than methods hitherto used. It is that novel way of creating the same thing that is protected,, not the resulting curved glass, or the concept of curved glass, nor the use of curved glass for any particular purpose.
post #26 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

But curved is very difficult. You're thinking of very low quality glassware. Low quality when compared to optical processes, that is. Doing very thin and optical If the s Rees behind is flat, then we have the same problem of our finger being away from the front of the screen, but this time, the distance would vary. Not good and we would get more reflections again from going back to two inner surfaces. If the screen is curved, then we really need to ask; For what purpose?

Curved glass may be stronger than flat glass (think egg shells), it could be used to e.g. scratch-proof the MagicMouse, used for the back of a hand-held device where a rounded shape may feel more comfortable and affords extra space for batteries. Also glass that can be precisely curved can be impercetibly curved for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. In any case patenting a novel process is smart, even if there is no concrete product planned that uses the process at the time, it just means creating corporate capital in the form of IP.
e.g. Competitors being forced to use a less cost efficient process lowers their profit margins, which relatively speaking strengthens Apple's position. Business is a war fought on many fronts and in many small skirmishes, not just a few grand battles.
post #27 of 72
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post
concept != process
Concept is an idea e.g. "let's make the MagicMouse scratch proof by using a glass instead of plastic touch surface"
Process is a method of manufacturing e.g "we bend glass by putting it on top of a mouse and then let an elephant step on it, until it has the proper shape"
Apple's patent covers a specific way of permanently curving the glass in a way that requires less manufacturing steps and produces less waste, I.e. is more cost efficient, precise and environmentally friendly than methods hitherto used. It is that novel way of creating the same thing that is protected,, not the resulting curved glass, or the concept of curved glass, nor the use of curved glass for any particular purpose.

 

That sounds just like what I'm thinking, but is it right? Was this the original intent of patents that has just, in some cases, been forgone for an attempt at locking others out of an entire concept?

post #28 of 72
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Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

Eludes you sarcasm does.
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post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I can't see this being used on any glass area that has a display that requires visually perfect image.

Hmm, that seems different from your earlier stance
Quote:
I wonder if Apple may be working on a some oddball display that is extra-wide, perhaps even curved

OT: Apple Store might be coming to my town, and this store just screams for curved glass:
http://www.ifoapplestore.com/2012/12/04/apple-signs-lease-for-future-netherlands-store/#comments

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post #30 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

My, that's more childish than I thought you'd be. Normally I just let people take stuff out on me, and I think you've reached your quota here. Please don't further.

 



I accused someone of doing this for the same reason.  You then deleted my post and left the original intact.

post #31 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post


 Since flat is better than curved in a screen, why would we want curved? If the s Rees behind is flat, then we have the same problem of our finger being away from the front of the screen, but this time, the distance would vary. Not good and we would get more reflections again from going back to two inner surfaces. If the screen is curved, then we really need to ask; For what purpose?

 

Well one excellent reason is it dramatically reduces the strength of reflections.  Samsung have solved the two surface problem with their flexible OLED display.  Wouldn't be surprised to see a product incorporating one fairly soon.

post #32 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Hmm, that seems different from your earlier stance

I can see that but I'm talking about two different things and usages. In this forum I didn't really consider anything other than a handheld device although I think the article did state "up to 27 inches" or something like that.

In that post from 2010 I'm talking about the potential benefit of a much wider desktop display that would use your neck as the pivot point but allow for more screen real estate without moving from side-to-side to get the same relative display size. Still, i am unsure how good those would be for photography or video editing. Peripheral vision can work for some use aspects to detect changes but I can't image that there are too requirements that make it a viable market to shoot for. If it catches on it might just be because it's the fashion.

Also, the displays and glass being so thin but so wide in the images below might not require the same technologies to build. A 50" curved display that is only as tall as the current 27" display might be able to be able to naturally flex the materials into the proper curve without special tools required for a 4" display.




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post #33 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I can see that but I'm talking about two different things and usages.

In all honesty it was my lame way of trying to get your view on curved screens. And I get this great reply, including your doubt if it would work for photography (a hobby of mine), which was the actual reason for me to remember that 2 year old post.

I think flexible screens might be the way forward, not curved.
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post #34 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


Eludes you sarcasm does.


"Elude".

 

Grammar-Nazi sorry is.

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post #35 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

I think flexible screens might be the way forward, not curved.

Flexible displays also have to withstand repeated flexing which makes me think it's one of those ideas that are technology possible now but not feasible for real world use, like personal jet packs.

Perhaps I'm thinking too extreme with the flexing aspects. It doesn't have to be foldable, just have a slight give like a CC or driver's license, but then I wonder what benefit that would have for us.

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post #36 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

 

Well one excellent reason is it dramatically reduces the strength of reflections.  Samsung have solved the two surface problem with their flexible OLED display.  Wouldn't be surprised to see a product incorporating one fairly soon.


Impossible. On this forum, which resides in a parallel world, Samsung and Google can't solve any problem. What you meant is "Samsung copied Apple's future solution for the two surface problem preemptively, which they should pay for dearly in (American) courts".

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post #37 of 72

Flexing displays, unless used as a manufacturing aid for bent display behind something like glass, are only meaningful once cheap enough to be disposable, because they will scratch just as easily if not more so, than any other typical plastic surface.

So maybe some future disposable phones are made that way, but as prices are anywhere near current levels it's basically a technology demo when it comes to phone like devices.

 

For solving the two surface problem flexible screens are not per se required, since OLED can be printed and thus can potentially printed directly onto a rigid curved surface, without need for bending screens.

 

And all that said, except for special applications, bent screens are just as ridiculous as transparent screens or the hare-brained translucent menu bar: design over function. Visual clutter, distorted display geometry, etc. just to be "cool" and "novel".

 

Bent screens for certain public displays or VR applications make sense, just as transparent screens are meaningful for certain augmented reality applications, but that's about it.

post #38 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Perhaps I'm thinking too extreme with the flexing aspects. It doesn't have to be foldable, just have a slight give like a CC or driver's license, but then I wonder what benefit that would have for us.

Could theoretically prevent all these broken iPhone screens I see from misuse of people sticking their iPhone in back pocket of tight blue jeans. Put the motherboard in the middle, like a spine, and since the battery is made out of compartments perhaps an iPhone could be designed for back pockets.

Share holders might not like the idea of Apple putting $ in this R&D. Oh well, they have a different thing to worry about with their stock.
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post #39 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Could theoretically prevent all these broken iPhone screens I see from misuse of people sticking their iPhone in back pocket of tight blue jeans. Put the motherboard in the middle, like a spine, and since the battery is made out of compartments perhaps an iPhone could be designed for back pockets.
Share holders might not like the idea of Apple putting $ in this R&D. Oh well, they have a different thing to worry about with their stock.

My thinking — which could be completely wrong as my understanding of physics may be above the mean average but well below the median average — is that we're still talking about Gorilla Glass, which does bend, but can still crack if enough is applied. I can't see Apple moving to a plastic unless it has the optical properties and is as scratch resistant as GG.


Perhaps we'll need to wait for GG3. I wonder if Corning (or a competitor) can take this tech so far that start talking about glass thickness in terms of microns. Imaging the glass glued atop the display being only a 65nm thick (about 130 to 1300 atoms wide). If the material is hard enough to resist a scratch then the thickness shouldn't really matter too much, right?

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post #40 of 72
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
I accused someone of doing this for the same reason.  You then deleted my post and left the original intact.

 

Did you report it? We're less likely to find it if you don't.

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