white-apple-logo-wallpaperOn May 27, Apple was granted United States Patent No. 8,738,104 for a process that traps a glass insert into a metal bezel. In more understandable terms, the patent was for seamlessly encasing glass or sapphire into a LiquidMetal bezel.

In addition to the clearance of the patent, GT Advanced Technologies has been significantly increasing their sapphire production and even started shipping to one of Apple’s primary Chinese manufacturing locations. Additionally, Apple recently renewed an exclusive contract with LiquidMetal to utilize their technologies in consumer products through next year.

Furthermore, LiquidMetal Technologies recently signed a favorable contract with Visser Precision Cast, which until recently had an exclusive contract to manufacture sapphire. However, the new contract allows LiquidMetal to negotiate with other suppliers.

At the moment, there is no evidence that these moves are definitely for the next iPhone. However, the patent and re-contracting indicate that these technologies will appear in future iPhones. The sapphire element is highly likely to be incorporated but no company appears to be scaling up LiquidMetal production for their smartphones yet.

This patent is an excellent example of how Apple creates high-value products. They find materials and develop processes that are unavailable to other companies and marry them with beautiful industrial designs and an unmatched user experience. The fruit of these new labors may be available in their products sooner than customers expect. As always, Apple will set the standard for mobile device technology.

Image courtesy of Apple 

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