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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending March 16

John Cox | March 19, 2012
Unseasonably warm weather, as so often happens, triggered rumor precipitation in the iOSsphere.

Who could resist a rumor about "ultra-sonic bonding"?

Certainly not "Nicole," at InRumor.com, where she breathlessly reports, "A new patent application from Apple published in the US Patent & Trademark Office today revealed that the company is considering new ways to permanently bond plastic and metal parts for its products."

"New patent application" actually means "new patent application first reported on by Patently Apple," where they pore over this stuff seemingly day and night. Nicole, doubtless through an oversight, didn't link to the other website, but we boldly go where InRumor doesn't.

Patently Apple found the March 15 publication by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office of an Apple patent application that actually "refines an older 2008 patent on using Ultrasonic bonding in products like the 2009 metal back iPhone and current iPods. Apple may have refined the process of ultrasonic bonding in their latest Apple TV and iPad designs where it's necessary to bring metal and plastic together to save on costs and to keep the devices lighter."

According to PA, ultrasonic bonding can make a stronger, more permanent bond than using adhesives to hold different materials together (in a phone casing, for example) and can be applied more flexibly than traditional metal welding. And Apple's refinement lets the technique be applied to different materials.

"Apple states that ultrasonic welding of plastic materials is used extensively in many other major industries, offers advantages in speed, efficiency and economy, and is often used where parts are too complex or expensive to be molded into a single piece," according to the website. "One big advantage of ultrasonic welding is that heating tends to be localized, such that the ultrasonic welding of plastic parts can take place at various stages of the overall manufacturing process without unduly disturbing nearby parts. Seams and joins of plastic parts that have been ultrasonically welded together can also be quite aesthetically pleasing in comparison with some traditional metallic welds."

Exactly. "Industrial design" doesn't mean having an iPhone welding seam that could be used on the Gerald R. Ford class of Navy aircraft carriers.

The problem is that different materials, like metal and plastics, have different melting points. According to PA, Apple's solution is to machine the metal surfaces in the dovetail pattern common to carpentry joinery, and then let the melted edge of the plastic components marry with the dovetail.

Nicole, as do so many others, interprets every Apple patent award or application as an unerring indicator of the Next New Thing in the Next New iDevice. But the patent application doesn't, of course, show that.

But who could resist a rumor about ultrasonic bonding?

 

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