Have you ever wondered what kind of tool Apple uses to engrave their iconic logo on gadgets such as the iPhone, iPod and their MacBook laptops? Well, even if you haven’t, you’ll really want to see just how strange-looking the tool is; photos after the break!
The discovery of the tool comes in the form of a patent application from Apple Inc. filed in the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) titled Aparathus and Method for Intricate Cuts. The application, in turn, was discovered by 9to5Mac.
The tool has a base upon which an elongated member extends. The face of the elongated member looks like the Apple logo we are all quite familiar with which is then used to punch shapes into different metals from which different Apple product’s backs are made.
The cutting apparatus includes a base member and an elongate member extending from the base member. The elongate member includes a tapered region having an abrasive surface. The tapered region defines at least one vertex defining an angle of a desired cutout shape. Additionally, the tapered region is toothless.
With the description clear, here are a couple of illustrations from Apple engineer and logo-engraving tool inventor Kevin M. Kenney of the tool:
So why did Apple go for a completely custom tool instead of opting for more traditional techniques like CNC milling, water jet cutting or laser cutting? The answer for that is how it is quite pricey to go with traditional tools for sharp/acutely-angled logos such as the one Apple has. Apple feels that the traditional tools “may not provide adequately sharp features at a reasonable cost” and that these may produce “rough edges with exposed fibers and a generally unacceptable appearance”.
Apple even goes ahead and describes the process in detail:
A tapered shaft having an abrasive surface is inserted into the aperture. The cross-section of the shaft is the shape of the desired intricate cut. The shaft gradually expands radially (i.e., gets bigger) along the length of the shaft. As the shaft increases in size, the cross-section shape stays the same. That is, the shape of the shaft remains the same along the length of the shaft as the cross-sectional size of the shaft increases due to the taper. The tapered shaft is toothless. That is, the tapered region does not include teeth, in contrast to conventional broach tools, for cutting through material.
What a crazy company. Their attention to detail is simply mind-blowing.