Aluminum Brick Behind New Apple Notebook

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Latest Apple code-word: Brick. Other than a step above sticks and straw, the meaning behind the Mac buzzword has been a mystery to Apple enthusiasts.

Although some consumers speculated this “brick” referenced a product set for late-October release, reporters now reveal that “brick” isn’t a product. Rather, it’s a manufacturing process to create a new MacBook from a solid brick of aluminum. Reportedly, the process uses jets of water and laser precision to carve each notebook from a large piece of aluminum, and this process  could emerge as the “new product transition” mentioned in an earnings conference call this summer with Peter Oppenheimer, Apple CFO.

Following  the company’s  remarkably strong July, Mac fans saw a drop in share prices. Now, the company expects to deal with lower gross profit margins during the transition. If the leaks about “brick” are true, however, the transition could eventually save more money than that spent on the new production process.  If you’re working with one single unit of metal, you’re reducing a lot of the materials costs and also a lot of labor time on assembly,” Kevin Keller, an analyst at market research firm iSuppli, told BusinessWeek earlier this week.

In addition to lowering materials costs, this manufacturing process would allow MacBooks to incorporate more unique design elements and eliminate the need for screws and  smaller parts. Keller expects that the production will take place in Asia, but perceives one threat: “The issue for Apple, which would presumably be doing  [the manufacturing]  millions of times, would be speed. It’s very time-intensive [to create and implement a radically new production process.]”

Despite added time and  the extra costs for factory creation, equipment purchases and additional labor, this simplified manufacturing process could save the company some cash as the process becomes streamlined. Apple is already known for metallic notebooks and laptops with shells of titanium and aluminum. We discussed the MacBook Air and other laptops earlier this year, but this process takes MacBook’s metallic  urges one step further. Once implemented, we expect to see a distinctive final product;  a product  that’s completely different from anything else on the market!

–Amy Edwards

Comments (3)

  1. Anmol Mishra says:

    Its called CNC machining. Instead of using friction with metal parts, they are using water jets.
    Essentially they have a number of high speed CNC units..
    Its not new, but it takes longer to “carve” shapes than to use previously cut shapes for assembly.

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