Apple Granted Patent for Innovative Foldable Devices With Textured Glass Design

March 08, 2024 – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially granted a patent to Apple today, revealing the tech giant’s latest innovation in the realm of foldable devices. The patent, uncovered by PatentlyApple, encompasses a range of future foldable products, including iPhones, hybrid tablet-laptops, and more.

Titled “Electronic Devices With Folding Displays Having Textured Flexible Areas,” the patent outlines a foldable electronic device with a flexible display embedded within a foldable housing capable of bending along a fold axis. The display is covered by a transparent glass cover plate that features a unique textured design to prevent cracking when the device is folded.

According to the patent, the textured design is achieved by etching slender grooves into the glass cover plate, making it thinner and more flexible in those areas. The grooves are then filled with a polymer material that smooths out the inner surface of the cover plate and creates a rough texture on the filling surface to reduce light reflection.

Illustrative diagrams included in the patent show a foldable device that can transform into various forms, such as a phone, a tablet, or a laptop. Users can unfold the device to enjoy a tablet-like viewing experience or fold it up for convenient portability.

The patent also describes a process for injecting the polymer material into the grooves through liquid infusion, followed by UV light exposure, heating, or other curing methods. The polymer can be made from flexible materials like silicone or acrylate.

In addition, the patent mentions that the inner and outer surfaces of the cover plate can undergo chemical strengthening processes to enhance their durability and scratch resistance. For example, an ion-exchange process that replaces sodium ions with potassium ions on the glass surface can introduce compressive stress and improve the overall breakage resistance.

Separately, renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had earlier predicted in a research note that a foldable iPad-MacBook hybrid device could potentially enter mass production by 2027. This development, coupled with Apple’s latest patent, hints at exciting new possibilities for foldable technology in the company’s future product lineup.

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