Apple Insider is reporting that an Apple patent filing for a “Multi-layered ceramic enclosure” shows the Cupertino company’s growing interest in ceramic device enclosures, a material which noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes could be used in the rumored low-cost iPhone. The filing reveals that Apple may be developing a unibody type design, fabricated from layers of ceramic in a technique somewhat similar to that used in laying up fiber glass.
“Basically, the invention calls for an enclosure consisting of multi-layered ceramic material, such as zirconia and alumina in any combination, with one or more “windows” that provide access to electrical components. More specifically, the windows allow for the deployment of user interface elements like touch screens”.
The filing describes the materials and processes required to produce a strong, lightweight housing from laminated ceramics. The filing also states that the fabrication technique can be used for a “handheld computing device,” which also extends to cellular phones such as the iPhone. In other words, Apple can fabricate a structurally rigid and useful housing by sandwiching together layers of ceramic materials with varying properties, such as tensile stress and RF transparency.
The housing can also be formed to have a seamless appearance similar to the iPhone 5’s unibody enclosure, a design expected to be used in the rumored cheaper iPhone.