Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that generally relates to coatings and, more particularly, to coatings having flake pigments needed to protect the display of a device, such as a future iPhone, that is capable of bending in half without damage.
Apple’s invention covers coatings formed from polymer with pigment flakes that may be applied with uniform thickness to curved substrates such as curved windows using liquid polymer coating techniques such as spraying, printing, and dipping, may be applied to glass layers without reducing glass strength, and may be sufficiently flexible to accommodate display flexing (e.g., when the coating is applied to an array of organic light-emitting diode pixels that flexes as a flexible device housing is bent).
Apple’s patent FIGS. 3, 4, and 5 presented below are cross-sectional side views of an illustrative foldable electronic device having a display with a coating
More specifically, Apple’s patent FIGS. 3, 4, and 5 illustrate how an iPhone (device 10) may be a bendable device having a flexible display. Structures may allow the housing of an iPhone to bend (e.g., into a face-to-face display configuration of the type shown in FIG. 4 and/or into a back-to-back display configuration of the type shown in FIG. 5). These types of folds are also known in the industry as fold-in or fold-out configurations.
Coating 22 (e.g., a coating on pixel array 16 and/or a coating on housing 12 or other layer(s) in device 10) may be formed from a polymer containing flake pigments and may be sufficiently flexible to withstand bending during use without cracking or delaminating (see, e.g., FIGS. 4 and 5).
Apple’s patent application was filed in March 2018 and published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Apple’s inventors include Matt Rogers: Manager, Product Design Materials/Coats; and James Wilson, Senior Software Engineering Manager who came to Apple via Amazon Web Services (AWS) where he was driving a shift to machine learning applications that could detect anomalies at a massive scale. More info
Other Apple patents regarding foldable iPhones could be viewed in our special archive here.