News Column

"Method and Apparatus for Bonding Metals and Composites" in Patent Application Approval Process

May 8, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventor Lynch, Stephen Brian (Portola Valley, CA), filed on December 18, 2013, was made available online on April 24, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application is assigned to Apple Inc.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Devices, e.g., small electronic devices, often include components that are formed by assembling sections made from different materials. Metal is used in many devices, as for example portable media players and cell phones, because of the structural strength of metal and/or the aesthetic qualities of metal. Thus, in many devices, it becomes necessary to create bonds between metal on materials such as composites.

"When sections of components are formed from the same material, bonding the sections is generally not difficult. However, when sections of components are formed from different materials, bonding sections becomes more challenging. For example, bonding a metal section to a section formed from a composite material such as a hard plastic is difficult to accomplish especially when there are space constraints. In other words, creating a joint between a metal piece and a plastic piece that provides a desired bond strength and substantially minimizes the size of the joint is difficult. Often, joints are larger than desired and effectively become macro features of a component, as achieving a desired bond strength may require relatively large joints.

"Therefore, what is desired is a method and an apparatus for achieving a relatively strong bond between components of different materials. More specifically, what is needed is a method and an apparatus for creating a relatively strong joint between a metal part and a part formed from a composite material."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The invention pertains to apparatus, systems and methods for providing facilitating bonding between a metal part and a composite part.

"The invention may be implemented in numerous ways, including, but not limited to including, as a method, system, device, or apparatus (including computer readable medium). Several embodiments of the invention are discussed below.

"According to one aspect, a layer stack includes a metal layer with a first surface, the first surface including at least one protruding feature. The layer stack also includes a non-metal layer molded to the first surface of the metal layer, wherein the non-metal layer is molded over and/or around the at least one protruding feature. In one embodiment, the at least one protruding feature is a flange machined onto the metal layer. In another embodiment, the at least one protruding feature is formed by adding a wire bond or a solder ball to the metal layer. In still another embodiment, the non-metal layer is a thermoplastic layer.

"According to another aspect, an assembly includes a substrate arrangement and a non-metal layer. The substrate arrangement includes a metal substrate and a prongle component. The prongle component includes at least one protruding feature. The non-metal layer is formed over the protruding feature, and the non-metal layer engages the protruding feature.

"In accordance with yet another aspect, an electronic device includes a bezel and a composite component. The bezel is formed from a metal material, and includes at least one flange with a first surface. The first surface has at least one protruding feature formed thereon and extending therefrom. The composite component is formed over the protruding feature and the flange. The composite component engages the at least one protruding feature and the flange to engage the bezel. In one embodiment, the protruding feature is a wire or a solder ball.

"According to still another aspect, a method for bonding a composite material to a metal material includes obtaining a metal substrate and obtaining a prongle piece that has at least one protruding feature. The method also includes bonding the prongle piece to the metal substrate and forming a composite piece over the protruding feature to bond the composite piece with the at least one protruding feature. In one embodiment, the metal substrate includes a flange, and bonding the prongle piece to the metal substrate includes bonding the prongle piece to the flange.

"In accordance with another aspect, a method for bonding a composite material to a metal material includes obtaining a metal substrate and forming a plated surface on the metal substrate. The plated surface includes at least one plated feature. The method also includes forming a prongle piece over the plated surface. The prongle piece has at least one protruding feature that is formed over the at least one plated feature. A composite piece is formed over the protruding feature to bond the composite piece with the protruding feature.

"Other aspects and advantages will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate one or more example embodiments and, together with the description of example embodiments, serve to explain the principles and implementations associated with the specification.

"FIG. 1A is a diagrammatic representation of a substrate assembly, e.g., a metal substrate assembly, in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 1B is a diagrammatic representation of an overall assembly that includes a substrate assembly, e.g., substrate assembly 104 of FIG. 1A, and a composite piece bonded to a prongle piece of the substrate assembly in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic representation of a substrate assembly, e.g., a metal substrate assembly, that includes a prongle piece bonded to a substrate in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of a substrate assembly, e.g., a metal substrate assembly, that includes a prongle piece formed onto a substrate in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 4 is a process flow diagram which illustrates a first method of forming a substrate assembly that include prongles in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 5 is a process flow diagram which illustrates a second method of forming a substrate assembly that include prongles in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation of a joint formed between a metal piece, which includes prongles on one surface, and a composite piece in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic representation of a joint formed between a metal piece, which includes prongles on a plurality of surfaces, and a composite piece in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic representation of a joint formed between a metal piece, which includes prongles that are individually bonded to the metal piece, and a composite piece in accordance with one embodiment.

"FIG. 9 is a diagrammatic perspective representation of a device which includes a metal piece with prongles and a composite piece that is bonded to the metal piece through the prongles in accordance with one embodiment."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: Lynch, Stephen Brian. Method and Apparatus for Bonding Metals and Composites. Filed December 18, 2013 and posted April 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=3102&p=63&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140417.PD.&OS=PD/20140417&RS=PD/20140417

Keywords for this news article include: Apple Inc.

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Source: Politics & Government Week