Apple researching how to make an iPad enclosure out of glass

Posted:
in iPad
A future iPad could be made with an enclosure entirely formed from glass, giving Apple's tablet a striking new appearance.

An iPad or iPad Pro may one day be encased in glass, without an aluminum backing.
An iPad or iPad Pro may one day be encased in glass, without an aluminum backing.


The iPad and iPad Pro lines differ from the iPhone in a number of ways, but a big one is in construction. While the iPhone is glass-backed, the iPad lineup still relies on a metal enclosure covering its back side.

However, the company has been working on the concept of a full-glass iPad for some time, and could eventually introduce such a product. It may also go further and glass-back many other products too.

In a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday titled "Glass Device Housings," Apple puts forward that it could create devices that are almost fully encased in glass.

Apple's interpretation of the concept is to use multiple glass pieces that are combined in a glass fusing process. Peripheral glass members can be fused along the edge of planar glass members to enhance the thickness of an edge.

Rounded edges could be made by machining that thickened edge, creating Apple's curved aesthetic. Raised fused glass features could also be used to support openings, increasing tensile strength alongside raised support structure ribs.

It is proposed in the patent that multiple sheets could be made into a five-sided box, into which electronics would be placed and a final glass sheet placed on top.

This diagram from the patent clearly depicts an iPad.
This diagram from the patent clearly depicts an iPad.


In the case of an iPad, the five-sided box would be the current aluminum enclosure, with the last sheet being the display.

While it's made of glass, it won't necessarily be transparent. Opaque masking material and colored glass will be used to hide the internals.

Example images showing the potential applications of the technique are also interesting, as the iPad is accompanied by an iMac-like display-on-stand design, as well as smartphone-like designs.

While Apple does regularly make patent filings about design and technology ideas, there's never a guarantee that it will appear in a future product or service.

An iMac may also be in line to have an all-glass enclosure
An iMac may also be in line to have an all-glass enclosure


That said, Apple has been exploring all-glass and glass back designs for quite a while. It obviously already has this in the iPhone. Rumors from 2021 point to an iPad Pro model in development using a "glass sandwich" design.

Meanwhile, patents from 2020 point to Apple considering how to make an all-glass iPhone with a wraparound display. In one instance, Apple proposed it could be an extruded glass tube capped on both ends.

As for the iMac, Apple has previously explored a more extreme version. In September 2021, it was granted a patent for a design that embedded a display in a large curved sheet of glass, one that leaned on a stand.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,675member
    As always, glass likes to break when dropped.  At least metal can deform

    Glass is also heavier than aluminum.  

    Everything would be glued.  No screws because glass would likely just crack under torque unless perfectly built.  

    So what’s the real benefit?   Probably, the patent.  
    edited March 2023 sergiobeviroundaboutnow
  • Reply 2 of 9
    eriamjh said:
    As always, glass likes to break when dropped.  At least metal can deform

    Glass is also heavier than aluminum.  

    Everything would be glued.  No screws because glass would likely just crack under torque unless perfectly built.  

    So what’s the real benefit?   Probably, the patent.  
    AGREE TOTALLY. Why, why why? To end up using a cover to protect all that glass from cracking? NO THANK YOU.
  • Reply 3 of 9
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,212member
     Main benefit of glass would be improved wireless performance. 

    And potentially (and rather than just just assume I will say potentially) glass manufacture might be less GHG intensive than aluminium manufacture, requiring as it does basically converting energy into solid form. Glass might have better moulding and polishing tolerances, and cheaper, than water blasting aluminium into shape too.

    Whether those things outweigh the real life usage downsides of an all glass construction of something as big as an iPad is another thing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 163member
    An all glass iPad would be like Samuel L. Jackson's character in Unbreakable.  The slightest touch would cause it to shatter.

    iPad Pro 11-inch fell off the bed once with hard flooring, only like 3 feet off the ground, and it hit just right and shattered the entire front glass.  It was in Apple's flimsy cover.  AppleCare replaced it of course, but now it lives in an Otterbox Defender case and has fallen few more times, but no more damage since it is much better protected.  A glass iPad would be a joke.  The slightest impact would shatter the entire thing.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 9
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 906member
    Wow. The lack of imagination in these comments is hard to believe. As if a new generation of nearly unbreakable glass would be impossible to develop. Yeah, how would you manage that when you're an incredibly innovative and successful consumer tech company that's only sitting on $50 billion in cash and has a close working relationship with Corning Glass, inventors of Gorilla Glass, that goes back over 20 years? No way! 

    True story: when Jobs previewed the first iPhone onstage in Jan 2007, it had a plastic screen which he then complained had scratches from just carrying it around in his pocket. By the time iPhone launched to the public in June, it had a new, scratch-resistant glass screen that Jobs had persuaded Corning to invent. The following year, it became known as Gorilla Glass, which is now in its eighth generation. 

    Remember: the iPhone Pro already has a glass screen and back. We're not THAT far from capability for an all glass enclosure. Jony Ive said a long time ago that phone and tablet design were all headed towards being a thin rectangular slab of glass. 
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 9
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,043member
    charlesn said:
    Wow. The lack of imagination in these comments is hard to believe. As if a new generation of nearly unbreakable glass would be impossible to develop. Yeah, how would you manage that when you're an incredibly innovative and successful consumer tech company that's only sitting on $50 billion in cash and has a close working relationship with Corning Glass, inventors of Gorilla Glass, that goes back over 20 years? No way! 

    True story: when Jobs previewed the first iPhone onstage in Jan 2007, it had a plastic screen which he then complained had scratches from just carrying it around in his pocket. By the time iPhone launched to the public in June, it had a new, scratch-resistant glass screen that Jobs had persuaded Corning to invent. The following year, it became known as Gorilla Glass, which is now in its eighth generation. 

    Remember: the iPhone Pro already has a glass screen and back. We're not THAT far from capability for an all glass enclosure. Jony Ive said a long time ago that phone and tablet design were all headed towards being a thin rectangular slab of glass. 
    And Steve Jobs had to bully Corning Glass to use in an old design from the 1960s, that Corning Glass couldn’t sell to anyone, Corning initially thought what they were doing was good enough, and couldn’t understand why this crazy guy from California was pestering them.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40493737/how-cornings-crash-project-for-steve-jobs-helped-define-the-iphone

    https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-steve-jobs-used-7-words-to-inspire-a-major-breakthrough.html
    edited March 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    jbtuckrjbtuckr Posts: 28member
    Imagine dropping your iPad and it disassembling itself into hundreds of pieces in front of everybody 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,435member
    charlesn said:
    Wow. The lack of imagination in these comments is hard to believe. As if a new generation of nearly unbreakable glass would be impossible to develop. Yeah, how would you manage that when you're an incredibly innovative and successful consumer tech company that's only sitting on $50 billion in cash and has a close working relationship with Corning Glass, inventors of Gorilla Glass, that goes back over 20 years? No way! 

    True story: when Jobs previewed the first iPhone onstage in Jan 2007, it had a plastic screen which he then complained had scratches from just carrying it around in his pocket. By the time iPhone launched to the public in June, it had a new, scratch-resistant glass screen that Jobs had persuaded Corning to invent. The following year, it became known as Gorilla Glass, which is now in its eighth generation. 

    Remember: the iPhone Pro already has a glass screen and back. We're not THAT far from capability for an all glass enclosure. Jony Ive said a long time ago that phone and tablet design were all headed towards being a thin rectangular slab of glass. 
    Not to mention many existing patents on joining materials like ceramics with glass, etc. They've been working on this for a very long time already, despite what the people who think they've been sitting on their thumbs think.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 9
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,435member
    eriamjh said:
    As always, glass likes to break when dropped.  At least metal can deform

    Glass is also heavier than aluminum.  

    Everything would be glued.  No screws because glass would likely just crack under torque unless perfectly built.  

    So what’s the real benefit?   Probably, the patent.  
    ^ Perfect example. Imagine thinking Apple hasn't considered any of this, and you're the smart one.
    watto_cobra
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