Future models of Apple devices could come with a thin nitride coating on the exterior to make them scratch-resistant.
A patent application from Apple that has been made public recently elaborates on this cost-effective solution to fix one of the pertinent problems faced by owners of electronic gadgets that have a stainless steel exterior.
In the patent application, Apple has noted that it is common for manufacturers to make use of austenitic stainless steel on their consumer electronic devices since it is non-magnetic and is hence less likely to interfere with the flow of electromagnetic waves from cellular signals, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, these materials are also prone to scratches. By coating a thin layer of nitride on top of the stainless steel cover, the patent notes, the surface will become more resistant to scratches while retaining the texture and appearance of the original material.
"In addition to providing a durable, hard surface that is both scratch and impact resistant, the nitride layer allows for the natural surface color and texture of the underlying stainless steel to remain visible to the user. It is this natural surface color and texture of the stainless steel that adds to the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the consumer electronic product thereby enhancing the user's overall experience."
The patent application further points out that while an austenitic stainless steel exterior can offer corrosion and impact resistance to the electronic device, the application of a nitride coating on top would enhance this utility even further. Apple has suggested a coating thickness of at least 15 microns and a Vickers Hardness Value of at least 1000 for optimal protection.
While the patent application does not make a mention of specific electronic devices that could make use of this technology, we believe that next generation iPhone and iPad users could definitely expect this technology to be offered on their devices moving forward. What do you think?[via Apple Insider]