Apple has filed for a patent (number 2015036442) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “composite bonded leather cases.” Such cases could be unveiled for future iPhones and iPods if the patent ever becomes reality. Apple files for, and is assigned, many inventions that never see the light of day.
According to Apple, the composite structure may include a first molded layer and a second molded layer. The molded layers may include leather particles, a binding agent, and structural fibers. The composite structure may define a look and feel similar to natural sheets of leather. An intermediate member may be positioned between the first molded layer and the second molded layer to provide certain specified additional functionality such as bending resistance.
In recent years the usage of protective covers and cases for electronic devices has become popular to protect devices such as iPhones and iPads. In the patent filing, Apple notes that the external appearance of the electronic device is important to many users, which is why leather has been employed to form some cases or covers. Leather may “provide a desired aesthetic appearance while also providing a desired degree of durability and shock resistance.”
However, the production of covers and cases from leather may present certain manufacturing challenges, according to Apple. In this regard, the formation of leather sheets into covers and cases may involve certain stretching and adhesion operations to define a desired shape. These operations may be relatively time consuming and delicate, such that the production of covers and cases from leather is relatively expensive. Apple says that what is needed is the production of composite structures formed from leather.