The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple with U.S. Patent No. 8,773,848 for a fusing process that joins multiple glass pieces together to create seamless, all-glass electronic device casings. The new housing structure could be used for smartphones, media players, televisions, computer monitors and other equipment, as outlined in the patent description.
The patent filing details how the all-glass fusing process would work:
“The glass housing structure may have multiple glass pieces that are joined using a glass fusing process. A peripheral glass member may be fused along the edge of a planar glass member to enhance the thickness of the edge. A rounded edge feature may be formed by machining the thickened edge. Raised fused glass features may surround openings in the planar glass member. Raised support structure ribs may be formed by fusing glass structures to the planar glass member.”To ensure that the all-glass casings have adequate structural support, the patent outlines raised glass features that can be fused on the planar member at weaker spots in the build, such as glass around holes or internal support ribs as reinforcement. The glass could have cutouts for buttons or other physical controls on devices.
It remains to be seen if Apple would ever release all-glass devices, but the iPhone maker does have another patent application that details how it could securely fasten Sapphire to an electronic device. According to multiple reports, the oft-rumored iPhone 6 could have a sapphire crystal display on the larger 5.5-inch model.
Apple credits its Senior Vice President of Design Jonathan Ive, Michael Pilliod and Peter Russell-Clarke as inventors in the patent filing. It originally filed for the patent in January 2012.