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New Patent Application Reaffirms that Apple Really Likes 3D Printing

by • March 9, 2016 • No Comments

Apple_2003_logoWhen it comes to their entry into the 3D printing market, Apple continues to maintain an air of mystery. Their new patent application for a color 3D printing device is yet floating in the ether a fewwhere, as are their prior 3D printing-related patent applications. They seem to be enjoying thrilling the rumor pot only long adequate to get folks excited, and so letting it settle again. Regardless, they’ve filed yet another patent application related to 3D printing, and while this one is not as glamorous or buzzworthy as an actual 3D printing device, it’s yet a lot informative and may outcome in a few primary changes in the way sure electronic components are maked.

Investment casting is one of the oldest making techniques yet being used in the present day. To put it in the simplest terms, it involves liquid metal being poured into a mold, typically created of ceramic, and allowed to harden and rad. The ceramic mold is and so blasted away, and voila, there’s your metal part. The ceramic mold itself is usually created by covering a wax pattern with ceramic material; the wax is and so melted away and the ceramic mold is eager to hold a liquid metal alloy. It is a lot of material used in the system of creating one final part, and while it’s effective, it has its drawbacks, namely cost and material waste.

Apple’s patent application involves via 3D printing to form the mold. At initially glance, this does not sound like anything new or patentable – 3D printing is being used to make only of all things, so why not molds for investment casting? What’s informative is what Apple intends to do with the molds, yet. The molds, created layer by layer, can be configured for the formation of amorphous alloys, or glasslike metals which are typically used in the make of medical equipment or electronic components, as they have great conductive properties. Their formation depends on the rate of the liquid metal’s rading.

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“However, little has been shown regarding how to use and/or shape these alloy systems into structural components, such as those in consumer electronic devices,” states Patently Apple. “In particular, pre-existing forming or systeming methods frequently outcome in high product cost when it comes to high aspect ratio products (e.g., thin sheets) or three-dimensional hollow products. Moreover, the pre-existing methods can frequently suffer the drawbacks of making products which lose most of the desirable mechanical properties as observed in an amorphous alloy.”

applecastAs we’ve seen with so most other products, 3D printing allows for for control, complexity and customization which only is not possible with other making methods. Apple’s 3D printed molds may be customized specifically for the molding of amorphous alloys which may form electronic components for phones, tablets, DVD players, remote controls and additional. Apple can potentially do a lot with this new system. 3D printing eliminates the time and effort involved in casting the mold itself, leaving additional time for efficient prototyping of new components. It in addition saves a lot of money and material waste.

If you’d like to delve deeply into Apple’s proposal, you can read the entire patent application here. One thing which is quite clear is which Apple is quite fond of 3D printing and intends to incorporate it into its making systemes; whether which fondness can some day lead to an actual 3D printing device yet remains to be seen. What do you ponder Apple’s intentions are? Discuss in the Apple 3D Molds forum over at 3DPB.com.