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Next Apple MacBook to be made of carbon fiber?


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Reports have emerged claiming that Apple’s next MacBook revamp could bring about a dramatic switch to carbon fiber materials. This would represent the first major design development in the range since 2008.

The MacBook design has remained relatively unchanged - externally that is - for the past four years. Even the super sleek MacBook Pro with Retina display is essentially the same unibody aluminium design as its predecessors, albeit thinner and with an amazing new screen.

According to Macatakara that could be all set to change. The Japanese blog reports that “some engineer of Apple and Foxconn Technology" has put an order in for carbon fiber components from an unnamed Japanese company. Apparently "the number of parts is too large to be called 'sample'."

Clearly this is a rumour and a bit of a shot in the dark, but it’s a reasonably educated one. The report mentions an Apple patent published in 2010 for a "housing for an electronic device or other object." The material for this "Reinforced Device Housing?" None other than a "layered fiber-in-matrix type material, such as CFRP."

Yep, that means carbon fiber.

The report also points out that Apple counts a certain Kevin Kenney among its employees. Kenney’s previous position was as CEO of Kestrel Bicycles, which made high performance bike frames made from - you guessed it - carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is known for two things - extreme toughness and extraordinary lightness, hence its usable in Formula 1 cars and professional bike design. Apple would evidently value such properties, as well as the ability to mould the material into very specific and complex shapes.

Will the next MacBook - or perhaps the one after that - be an ultra-light carbon fiber unibody affair?

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September 28, 2012, 2:51 am

Carbon FIBRE isn't it, or have we been absorbed as the fifty first state?

If this is true is this not going to have quite a significant effect on the price?


September 30, 2012, 11:15 am

Obviously a change of manufacturing process will have an effect on Apple's cost of production, but their sales price is driven by more than this - Apple's margins are known to be pretty large, and their pricing isn't simply a case of cost + x%.

In any event, machining unibody cases out of single billets of aluminium is a fairly costly process. The CFRP they will use won't be subjected to the kind of stresses an aeroplane or an F1 car or even a high performance bike endures, so they will be able to use lower grade CFRP, which brings the price down. And the volume of production will keep it down too - once the rigs are set up to vacuum mould the CFRP, it becomes pretty cheap to reproduce. The cost of fibre itself isn't extortionate.


September 30, 2012, 11:18 am

I also wouldn't be at all surprised if this found its way onto the back of the next iPad or iPhone - strong, light, scratch resistant, great looking and doesn't interfere with radio reception - win.

WHY ARE TRUSTEDREVIEWS COMMENTS STILL SO BROKEN?! They're slow to load; if you post a comment that's beyond some arbitrary length then the submit routine just hangs; but you can't post in multiple comments one after another because then you get the "multiple posts in short time not allowed" error; the login is clunky and slow; it forgets user login after far too short a time so I have to log in every day; and "editor approval" should really be loosened up for regular posters with no history of spam/abuse.


September 30, 2012, 3:54 pm

Hi John, we'll hopefully have a new comments system in the next month or two - it's really high on the dev priority list. Current priority is page load speed reduction and pretty much next on the list is comments.

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