If the awarded patent to Apple is to be believed, an all-glass device may be making an appearance in the future. The iPhone 6 is already on its way so maybe the patent will be applied to the iPhone 7?
This isn't Apple's first venture into glass because the material has already been incorporated into the designs of the iPhone 4 and the company also has a patent back in 2011 for crack-proof glass. This time though, it's about making a device encased completely in glass. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the company has plans of using the patent anytime soon. It appears to be that Apple is simply experimenting with possibilities and US Patent No. 8,773,848 is just one of them.
What exactly is this patent capable of? Called "fused glass device housings," the patent describes a means that will allow seamless all-glass device casings to be manufactured. All-glass structures are heavy, most especially when several layers of the material are employed to improve scratch resistance and damage-protection from drops, so a new construction procedure is proposed to ensure durability without the heft while at the same time achieving eye-pleasing designs.
Instead of the usual glass-on-glass structure, Apple plans on joining pieces of glass using a fusing method. This will be achieved by fusing together the edges of peripheral and planar glass pieces to form a thick sheet that can be molded to a desired shape. Internal support ribs may also be placed to prevent flexing while holes and other openings will be reinforced with additional glass.
To hide unsightly internal components, Apple also proposed that the back portion of the device be made opaque or tinted with a translucent color. Once all the components are in place, end caps will be used to cover openings and protect the device from debris.
Apple has several patents pertaining to use of glass for its staircases, stores, among others but this patent may come into fruition especially with the sapphire glass plant of the company.
Sapphire glass is Apple's answer to Gorilla Glass, a paper-thin material that is impossible to scrape or scratch and yet remains completely transparent. It will be making its debut as the iPhone 6's display.
The patent for the seamless all-glass casing was filed by Apple in 2013 and lists Design SVP Jony Ive, Michael K. Pilliod, and Peter Russell-Clarke as its inventors.