Sticking with patents this afternoon, another, entitled “Apparatus and Method for Intricate Cuts”, found by 9to5Mac, actually appears to describe the tool and methods in which Apple uses to perfectly cut out its company logo on the back of products such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac.
The cutting apparatus includes a base member and an elongate member extending from the base member. The elongate member includes a tapered region having an abrasive surface. The tapered region defines at least one vertex defining an angle of a desired cutout shape. Additionally, the tapered region is toothless.
The patent notes that more traditional metal cutting processes such as CNC milling, water or laser cutting just don’t fit the job, as they “may not provide adequately sharp features at a reasonable cost.” Apple also notes that these methods can sometimes produce “rough edges with exposed fibbers” which, it says, is a “generally unacceptable appearance.”
“When the ultimately desired shape is an apple, the general shape created by CNC milling may be a circle or oval. Often, the aperture may be a circle, a square or other geometric shape”. Apple describes a manufacturing process in intricate detail. “A tapered shaft having an abrasive surface is inserted into the aperture. The cross-section of the shaft is the shape of the desired intricate cut. The shaft gradually expands radially (i.e., gets bigger) along the length of the shaft. As the shaft increases in size, the cross-section shape stays the same. That is, the shape of the shaft remains the same along the length of the shaft as the cross-sectional size of the shaft increases due to the taper. The tapered shaft is toothless. That is, the tapered region does not include teeth, in contrast to conventional broach tools, for cutting through material,” the patent explains.
Crediting Apple operating and manufacturing engineer, Kevin M. Kenney, as the sole inventor of the production cutting method, Apple’s “Apparatus and Method for Intricate Cuts” patent falls under United States Patent No. 20110183580 and can be viewed by searching the U.S Patent and Trademark Patent Database.[via 9to5Mac]