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Apple Patents an Ultra-Hard 18k Gold Alloy

Owners of Apple products are rightly concerned about scratches on their devices. With its new smartwatch launching soon, Apple has a new weapon in the war of scratch resistance – a new type of super-strong gold alloy. Apple devices tend to use more practical materials than gold, but it’s a classic material for watches – and perfect for promoting Apple’s image of luxury.

Last year, Apple designers filed a patent for a “method and apparatus for forming a gold metal matrix composite.” The patent describes several processes for making this material, all of which involve blending gold powder and “ceramic” powder, then heating and compressing the materials to create an 18k alloy. There are actually lots of materials in the ceramic mixture, including “boron carbide, diamond, cubic boron nitride, titanium nitride, iron aluminum silicate (garnet), silicon carbide, aluminum nitride, aluminum oxide, sapphire powder, yttrium oxide, zirconia and tungsten carbide.”

The refining methods included in Apple’s patent include a form of compression and sintering, a die-striking method, and even a variant using particles of diamond. While not exactly cutting-edge science, the patent definitely contains ideas that could make a big impact in engineering and metal refining. In our next post, we’ll take a look at Apple’s proposed methods for making this alloy. Do you think this could revolutionize areas of the gold industry? Sound off on our Facebook page.

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