Is the aluminum enclosure expensive?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
I was wondering if aluminum is expensive to use, and that Apple might switch to something else, like carbon fiber? I don't know — is carbon fiber expensive to use? I recall a news story or off-handed conversation posted somewhere that the reason Apple switched to aluminum in its notebooks was because titanium was expensive. As I read people talking abut how they can get a Dell display with slightly better specs than Apple's at half the price, it makes me wonder if the enclosure is a factor in its cost.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    ikaika Posts: 52member
    I don't know, but if so, I can't wait for carbon fiber soda cans.
  • Reply 2 of 9




    All structural metals are cheap WRT (high strength/modulus) FRP, plastic is fairly cheap, relative (roughly) costs ranked from low to high; plastic, steel, aluminum, FRP (LS/LM), stainless steel, titanium, FRP (HS/HM).



    If weight is the primary consideration, reverse the order above.



    If weight and cost are important factors, then the ranking is (roughly); plastic, aluminum, steel, FRP (LS/LM), stainless steel, titanium, FRP (HS/HM).



    If you add durability to the list above, then the order would be (roughly); aluminum, steel, FRP (LS/LM), stainless steel, titanium, FRP (HS/HM), plastic. In a marine environment, move FRP (LS/LM) near the front of this list (perhaps following aluminum).



    But in the end if an aluminum case costs say $20 and an FRP (HS/HM) case costs say $200 (i. e. 10X an equivalent aluminum case), and the lappy costs $3-5K, the shell construction is a small fraction of the total cost. And if you are willing to pay a price premium for a lappy, you're probably willing to pay the price premium for a more exotic shell!



  • Reply 3 of 9
    Carbon Fiber is a lot more expensive than Aluminum when you add in production costs. Aluminum is relatively cheap, and it is innexpensive to make parts out of...you just cast them. A good carbon fiber component has to be hand laminated, so you have the cost of the carbon fiber, the resin that it is being laminated with plus the labor of laminating the individual pieces. For the Aluminum case you have the aluminum and the cost of casting and a bit of clean up, a lot of which can be done with robots.
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Neat thread! I did not know these things. Thanks!
  • Reply 5 of 9
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hledgard View Post


    Neat thread! I did not know these things. Thanks!



    franksargent is our AppleInsider Official Resident Materials Scientist/Engineer
  • Reply 6 of 9
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sunilraman View Post


    franksargent is our AppleInsider Official Resident Materials Scientist/Engineer







    Thanks sunilraman, I try to make contributions to AI as best as I can.



  • Reply 7 of 9
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,855member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by @homenow View Post


    Carbon Fiber is a lot more expensive than Aluminum when you add in production costs. Aluminum is relatively cheap, and it is innexpensive to make parts out of...you just cast them. A good carbon fiber component has to be hand laminated, so you have the cost of the carbon fiber, the resin that it is being laminated with plus the labor of laminating the individual pieces. For the Aluminum case you have the aluminum and the cost of casting and a bit of clean up, a lot of which can be done with robots.



    Hmm, I doubt any of the desktop case parts are cast. The exterior parts all look stamped and machined to me. Maybe hydroformed to get some of those nice curves. Casting is much more expensive than stamping. Laptops might have some cast parts due to high strength needs and unusual shapes. Of course this is Apple we are talking about here, so who knows?
  • Reply 8 of 9
    tak1108tak1108 Posts: 222member
    But what about heat disapation? I don't think Carbon Fiber is a conductive material. All that heat would stay in the unit and burn it out.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tak1108 View Post


    But what about heat disapation? I don't think Carbon Fiber is a conductive material. All that heat would stay in the unit and burn it out.



    I think most laptops going into 2007-2008-2009 will have an internal heatpipe setup. Like on motherboard chipsets. A lot of laptops today have heat dissipation through the bottom, with the fan grills blowing out the back for the CPU and GPU cooling.



    I anticipate, Carbon Fibre or whatever, the internals of the laptop will have a fuller "network" of heatpipe/sinks running through the HDD area, GPU, CPU, north/soutbridge, DVDdrive, and dedicated exhaust ports (2 - 3), driven by 2-3 fans.



    That said, the current setup for the Core2Duo MacBooks and MacBookPros seems to be very good, they run real cool I hear.
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