An Apple ‘Brick’ carved out of solid aluminum wouldn’t be very revolutionary

“Rumors are buzzing that Apple has been working on a revolutionary manufacturing process involving lasers and waterjets and solid blocks of aluminum for the upcoming MacBooks. The contention is that the rumored “Brick” product actually refers not to a product itself, but the manufacturing method for the MacBooks,” Adam Richardson writes for CNET.

MacDailyNews Note: Richardson notes that although Apple and frog design, where he works, worked together in the 1980’s and pioneered injection molding techniques with plastic that are now commonplace on computer products, Richardson states that he doesn’t have any insider knowledge whatsoever on this rumor.

Richardson continues, “In reality, Apple has been using laser and waterjet methods for quite sometime… For example, if you look at the iPod Shuffle you can tell it is hogged out aluminum. On such a small product this is do-able. On a large product like a laptop this would typically result in a massive amount of waste (so kiss your green credentials goodbye). And the notion that this is somehow cheaper than stamping thin sheets or molding plastic is completely wrong – it’s much more expensive.”

“Given the complexity of the components that need to get tightly mounted inside a laptop casing, and the number of ports and so on that need to be exposed to the outside, it’s unlikely that it will literally be a hollowed out block of aluminum,” Richardson writes. “And even if it was, it would not particularly help much with weight (it’s still aluminum) compared to the stamped case of the current Aluminum MacBook Pros.”

Richardson writes, “Having said that, and not discounting Apple’s ability to go beyond the bounds of what others pull off, going by the 9to5mac article there isn’t necessarily anything very revolutionary being described.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dale E.” for the heads up.]


  1. OMG!

    A left leaning company is actually very greedy and captialistic enough to have a R&D;department.

    Something is wrong here. Steve Jobs only plays socialist.

    Unless it’s to get Al Gore elected so he can sell Mac’s to the US government.

    Steve Jobs> Busted.

  2. LOL— Must be a s l o w news day. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    “Hogging out” metal is an industry standard but usually saved for prototypes as its very slow. Todays industry can make precision AL molds and then any minor machining is done later.
    While this method can make products stronger (such as for the military) they are quite a bit more expensive.

    I think the hype is starting again but with Apple stock in the tank, I just do not see any reason for it. Its a weird world after all. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Just a thought.


  3. I hope it’s more than what the rumor says it is. While interesting, it just doesn’t have that “Apple coolness” about it. All of Apple’s hot stuff just screams “ain’t I cool, now buy me” and I just haven’t had that feeling about a new manufacturing process.

  4. Maybe they’re using stereo lithography. Yeah, I know that the ‘current’ materials used wouldn’t work… but what if Apple found a material that would.

    It’s alchemy…

    This, of course would lead to on-demand manufacturing and Star Trek like replicators…

    (let me dream, will ya)

  5. A slow news day????
    What kind of Apple news do you expect on average days?
    Lawsuits? Complaints? Whinging? Bickering? European government/consumer watchdog ‘interventions?’ Greenpeace kvetching? AppStore/MobileMe/iTunes 8.x.y etc. application/NDA etc. earth shattering misappropriations unearthed/revealed by the trusted tech blogs? Complaints regarding Apple’s choice of mobile carriers (insert country name)? RDF October 2008 edition and those who use LOLs? Fanboi sheepdom shown their errors by CNET/InformationWeek et al? AAPL?
    Death of a salesman Steve Jobs standard (waist size to heart attack)? Seriously, there are plenty more as I can go on.. and they were all there this morning last I checked.
    So, please, if anybody with any shred of credibility does a bit of analysis and predictions on Apple trajectories for a change on a new and probable future, allow us to take a breath and enjoy it lest you deem they are not worthy and dismiss them off the net. Albeit conjectures most often, some of us do enjoy these fascinating stuffs quite a bit.

  6. How can making a computer shell out of an aluminum block be revolutionary for anyone outside of people researching material science ? I would think that the term “revolutionary” would be reserved for marketing some new value/capability to everyday people, a new shell at a lower price with some manufacturing esthetics does NOT qualify in my book.

  7. Actually the auto industry as used 100% automated C and C mills to make engine blocks and heads for a long time now. Apple using a few automated C and C Mills to produce laptops cases is not that far out there. And if Apple were using a production facility that already had a few C and C Mill lines sitting idol the cost is to mill an aluminum case compared to stamping and assembly is plausible. Recycling the aluminum milling waste and casting the parts to reduce waste and milling times is also something the Auto Industry as been using for some time.

    But, if I were jobs and I was going to mill a cases for a product it would not be Mac Books or Mac Book Pros. It would be a product that did not require the attachment of a flip-up screen. It would be a one piece, Multi-Touch device made with a milled aluminum case for added strength and a higher kewl factor. It would also be a product that while drawing lot of attention and huge amounts of free press, to drive gawkers to the Apple Stores, it would be one I wouldn’t be planning on selling iPod Numbers worth.

    A totally new product in an innovative solid milled aluminum case is much much more plausible. Kind of like a giant Ipod touch but, with the weight, size and design queues of a Macbook Air.

  8. What the hell is this guy talking about. Shuffle, nano, mini and Mac mini all use extruded Al profile as base component and needed holes etc. are milled or laser/water cut.

    @Demon: It’s not “C and C”, its CNC (!= C’N’C) = Computer Numeric Control.

  9. “What if it’s transparent aluminum . . . you know, like in Star Trek IV? Think of the possibilities.”

    Even now I’m imagining a carrying a whale around in my laptop.

  10. The hogging out of an aluminum block will give a computer designer like Apple many desirable benefits. Now they can leave metal behind to form walls between sections of the electronics. The walls will stiffen the total structure of the case and allow the removal of even more metal. The other benefit is components that are Radio Frequency noisy are now isolated from other components that want to be RF quiet. If you use RF filter pin connectors between the compartments you have eliminated all interference between components, RF loves to travel through unfiltered connectors. The results are a smaller, sturdier package with better electronic performance. As for the waste there is very little, aluminum is very recyclable.

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