Apple rumored to be ordering carbon fiber parts for new product

Could we see carbon fiber products in the next year?
Could we see carbon fiber products in the next year?

If you thought the iPhone 5 launch would quiet the Apple rumors for at least a few weeks, think again as the latest out of Japan indicates the firm is placing hefty orders for carbon fiber parts.

An anonymous source spoke to Japanese site Macotakara, claiming that Apple approached a production company in Japan back in mid-March to create new parts made out of the ultra-durable material.

The source didn't speak to specifics of what kind of parts were ordered, but added that the order size was too large to just be a sample.

This leads to speculation that a never-before-seen device made of the fibrous material may already be entering full production.

Apple's gone carbon crazy

Apple has long been interested in using carbon fiber in its products.

Carbon fiber is as tough as metal but lightweight like plastic, making it an ideal fit for smartphone, tablet, and laptop casings.

However, one stick in the mud concerning the use of carbon fiber is that the material is prone to cracking.

Apple may have a solution for that issue, with a patent granted in 2010 titled Reinforced Device Housing (USPTO application 20100289390), which provided a method of using multiple carbon fiber layers to strengthen a case.

Another patent titled Carbon Composite Mold Design (USPTO application 8257075) was filed in 2009 and granted earlier this month.

That patent covers methods to use carbon fiber to "form outer housings for a laptop computer or other similar device."

In April of 2011, Apple also hired carbon fiber expert Kevin Kenney, who formerly pioneered carbon fiber frames as the CEO of Kestrel Bicycles, a manufacturer that pioneered carbon fiber bike frames.

Carbon Apple core

While the validity of these new rumors can't be completely ascertained, it can't be written off either given Apple's ongoing interest in carbon fiber construction.

Last year, TechRadar put on its thinking caps as to what Apple's numerous patents could have in store for us, including new super light MacBook and iPad designs using carbon fiber frames.

A carbon fiber MacBook Air or iPad casing could reduce the heft of the already lightweight devices, giving Apple a significant edge as competitors catch up in device portability.

If the rumors are true and parts are already in the production stages, then it might not be too long before we get our hands on Apple's first carbon fiber product.

Via Macotakara, Apple Insider, USPTO (1), (2)