Apple’s entirely unnecessary but very cool method of making the amazing Mac Pro

“This is an interesting little tale to me covering as it does two parts of my working life: tech and business and then the wider shores of the metals business which is what I do in my day job,” Tim Worstall reports for Forbes. “Apple’s new Mac Pro uses one particular metals manufacturing technique which is entirely unnecessary in a purely functional sense but it most certainly makes it look very good.”

“The point is that absolutely none of these are in any way remarkable in the metals world,” Worstall reports. “They are, some of them at least, rather odd to have in the manufacture of a computer case however.”

Worstall reports, “Anodizing isn’t unusual, that’s how you get all of the different coloured metals (like the iPhone cases for example). But the one that stands out as being particularly unusual (the others pretty much flowing from this first decision) is that deep draw stamping.”

Read more in the full article here.

40 Comments

  1. The guy covers several ways to make the body to cut cost. But, in doing so, he is also explaining that this is the best way to make the best shell that is used in only the most critical applications. Or when you are interested in making the very best final product. You know, the way Apple likes to make things!

    Think Different!

  2. ” unnecessary “???
    Doesnt that l depend on what the intended end result is?
    For apple that is an Absoulte nessesity..
    For a few reasons.
    -Design differentiation , quality and perfectionism.
    -effect on Apple brand image !
    The author agrees with these … My problem is the use of the word unnecessary ,.
    Maybe it is an click bait!

    1. In cabinetmaking, finishing the back of a drawer is unnecessary because no one sees it, and it adds to the cost of a commodity to be sold for a profit.

      Steve jobs learnt that whilst not finishing the unseen panel increases one’s profit margin, it diminishes the cabinetmaker’s pride in his own artistry, the intangible value that infuses the piece and makes it worth owning, worth keeping until handed down through generations until it appears on the Antique Road Show whence a cultured expert explains the concept of lasting value to a rapt audience and a stunned owner suddenly apprised of his or her sudden wealth — always a crowd pleaser.

      Imitations don’t fare as well on that program

    2. Agreed! His example of using sheet rolled and fastened may be cheaper, but when has Apple ever been “cheap” about anything? I can see problems with the rolled and welded sheet technique that he thinks should have been used – mainly you’d end up with a thin sheet, not what appears to be a fairly hefty shell that’s created by the deep draw. And second, you’d have an issue with concentricity and a need to polish out the welded seam. While the initial shaping of a thin aluminum shell might be cheaper, I’ve got to imagine the cost of making it a perfect cylinder and removing the seam would be quite expensive, or at least yield a lot of unacceptable scrapped units. Finally, I’m thinking Apple might be using that thick aluminum case as a heat sink – something to aid the single fan with the dissipation of heat. But that’s how Apple thinks differently, nothing is ever just used as a cover, it’s always got a second or third purpose.

  3. Deep draw stamping is a resourceful way to produce a tower from a single piece of aluminum and is used extensively in the manufacturing of cylindrical products, oxygen and scuba tanks, et. al., so that these tubes are uniform throughout.

    I expected nothing less from Apple! If these towers were made of wood, Apple might be inclined to press a cylinder out of a tree trunk to ensure a uniform wood grain without seams!

  4. A tech journalist who also has a superficial knowledge of the metals business suggesting that the way Apple is doing the Mac Pro case is wrong.

    I’m sure the cadre of brilliant scientists and engineers working for Apple that came up with the process are now hanging their heads in shame after being schooled by Tim Worstall.

    1. The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

      Warren G. Bennis

  5. Entirely unnecessary sounds as if Apple is screwing up. Deep drawn stamping are a perfectly fine way to make a cylindrical enclosure economically. Yes, Apple wants their stuff to look perfect. That is not unnecessary either.

  6. Obviously, nobody read the actual article, as it clearly concludes that Apple’s decision was about the only one possible — the method of making those cylinders was the only one that Apple could use in order to get the perfection Apple always gets.

    The “entirely unnecessary” part in the headline was there purely to attract clicks and reactions (and it obviously did); in the article itself, it was qualified by “from functional point”, meaning, in order to serve as a computer case, the cylinder could have been welded or riveted together, rather than extruded. He then explains who no other method would have produced results that Apple wanted — perfection.

    The whole point of the article was to point out that, while the methods were not unusual or new, they were never used to manufacture computer cases before.

    1. Anyone would realise at this point that a headline juxtaposing “Apple” and “unnecessary” would attract a fleeting glance from those predisposed to vilify Apple for any number of reasons, and from its fans as well.

      Writers don’t (usually) write their own headlines, so I’d expect that once again, as always, sense has been overwhelmed by cents.

  7. This is was separates the men from the boys! No other company would invest in such an innovative solution by designing a cylindrical case to solve cooling problems. It’s as quiet as as Mac mini (12db.) and makes the Mac Pro very difficult product to duplicate; even in China. This case will define what every one else should be striving for! Not some noisy pc underneath your desk. This defines the pros from the wannabes. Just saying. Besides, If you want to design a cool rack mount container to put three Mac Pros in; this would be a great start up project.

  8. Each case will be exactly the same and this will lead to the albeit to fine tune the cooling so the Macs will cool correctly and last a long time.

    The process probably costs way less then $15 more then the absolutely cheapest way to make a similar size case. Not much on a $3k to $7k product. The result will be a computer you will be proud to own, use for years without worrying about it and will save money long term for Apple though fewer customer service complaints.

    It is called attention to detail.

  9. Anyone who is amazed that deep draw forming is the chosen method to make hollow cylindrical metallic objects has not enjoyed a cold beverage from a can. Nothing new here, folks.

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