The new patent shows that Apple is exploring the use of titanium alloy to make Apple Watch/iPhone/iPad, etc.

In a technology patent last year, Apple was exploring the use of titanium alloys to build iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, and today Apple has received a related patent. The patent describes the process of creating a textured surface on a titanium alloy and uses the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and MacBook in the illustrations.

In fact, the Apple Watch is currently available in a titanium alloy version, and a titanium notebook, the PowerBook G4, has also been offered before. This product was sold from 2001 to 2003 and was later replaced by an aluminum model.

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In last year’s patent, Apple described a method of giving titanium a semi-gloss finish. The patented technology combines sandblasting and etching with a chemical anodizing process to achieve the desired surface finish. Apple says the former better hides flaws in metal, while the latter offers better protection.

Titanium is heavier than aluminum but much stronger, but the same strength and hardness can be achieved with a thinner material. The end result is that a titanium case will be lighter than an aluminum case.

We’ve seen past rumors that Apple is working on a titanium iPhone — although iPhone 13 predictions certainly didn’t come to fruition. Today’s patent begins by describing the challenges posed by titanium housings:

Portable electronic devices may include various operational components (eg, display screens, processors, antennas, etc.). The enclosures of these portable electronic devices can be formed from various metals such as anodized aluminum, etc., with high strength and hardness to protect these operating parts. Furthermore, it is desirable to machine these shells to give them an attractive finish. However, certain types of metals, despite their high strength and stiffness, are also difficult to machine with attractive surface finishes. Therefore, it is necessary to implement techniques for processing these specific types of metals.

It goes on to describe different ways of creating an interesting textured surface, rather confusingly, it describes it as a matte surface (confusingly, metal is matte in its natural state, although it is often referred to as polishing).

It is worth noting that these patents do not necessarily translate into commercial products. The company holds a large number of patents, only a small fraction of which make it into products. But the titanium Apple Watch offers some ground for optimism here, with Patently Apple noting that this is already the eighth patent related to the material.

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