The US Patent and Trademark Office has officially published a series of 55 newly granted patents for Apple Inc.
First, Apple has been granted a patent for their manufacturing techniques for electronic devices. Specifically, the patent pertains to shaping device structures - such as display - with a water jet shaping technique.
The material that is used to form display layers such as color filter array layers, thin-film-transistor layers and cover glass layers usually starts as large panels called mother glass. The mother glass is cut (or singulated) into device-sized pieces using a scribing and breaking process. The display layers can then be laminated together to form displays. Sometimes, mechanical milling machines are used to mill openings into glass layers.
Conventional singulation techniques can only be used to form straight cuts, which is obviously very limiting. Conventional milling techniques may require multiple passes when forming certain shapes to avoid stress buildup, which can reduce throughput and limit the types of features that can be incorporated into a glass layer. Hence, Apple thought that it would be desirable to be able to utilize enhanced techniques for manufacturing electronic device structures.
This is where the water jet cutting equipment comes in. The equipment can use computer-controlled positioners to position a workpiece relative to a water jet. The water jet may be formed from a high-pressure stream of water. The position of the workpiece relative to the water jet may be adjusted so that the water jet shapes the workpiece. The water jet may be used to cut or trim the edges, to form notches and openings in the workpiece, or to shape other features in the workpiece such as recesses, grooves, and chamfers.
Additionally, Apple has been granted a patent for their invention relating to the use of an ultrasonic welding machine in electronics manufacturing.
This patent relates to an apparatus for ultrasonically bonding a number of wires to a printed circuit board (PCB) pad. The apparatus includes: an ultrasonic vibration driver configured to create mechanical vibrations between 60 and 80 kHz; and a steel ultrasonic bonding horn with a cavity shaped to maximize the amount of ultrasonic energy imparted to the plurality of wires. The ultrasonic vibrations made by the apparatus cause the plurality of wires to vibrate harmonically, and the bonding operation itself takes roughly 50 to 100 milliseconds.
Lastly, Apple has been granted a patent for their invention relating to integrated touch screens including drive lines formed of grouped-together circuit elements of a thin film transistor layer and sense lines formed between a color filter layer and a material layer that modifies or generates light.
Apple first introduced the iPhone with "Integrated Touch" in 2012 via the iPhone 5. However, recent news reports on the iPhone 5.5 claim that in-cell displays are causing delays in the phone.
Sense lines can be formed on an underside of a color filter glass, and a liquid crystal region can be disposed between the color filter glass and the TFT layer. Placing the sense lines on the underside of the color filter glass - within the display pixel cell - can provide a benefit of allowing the color filter glass to be thinned after the pixel cells have been assembled.