Apple is rumoured to ditch aluminum for forged stainless steel in crafting this year’s ‘iPhone 8’, the 10th anniversary edition of its best selling device. A report by East Asia claims that Apple has bypassed its usual supplier Foxconn, and has placed orders for forged stainless steel iPhone casings from manufacturing partner Jabil (via AppleInsider).
The last time Apple used stainless steel was with the iPhone 4s, which wrapped two CNC-machined bands made from a bespoke steel alloy around a glass-sandwich body. Since then, the company has switched to aluminum for crafting its iPhones, an alloy that is both lightweight and durable. With the ‘iPhone 8’ though, the source notes that the fabrication process of its stainless steel chassis will be notably different from that of the iPhone 4 or 4s.
In particular, the company is said to be using a metal forging method instead of common billet milling.
Forging is a machining method that essentially squeezes a metal alloy between two halves of a mold —tool and die —to form a finished part. Compared to components crafted using subtractive machining methods like CNC, forged blanks provide superlative structural rigidity and can in some cases afford greater latitude in the design process.
It is being predicted that CNC tooling will also play some role in the construction of ‘iPhone 8’.