Carbon composites, the mix of carbon fiber and plastic resins used in planes such as Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’s A380, offer many advantages over more traditional materials such as aluminum: they’re as strong as steel, but only around 40% as heavy.
Yesterday, the folks over at 9to5mac discovered that Apple hired Kevin Keeney, to work on composite materials. Interestingly enough, Keeney has an extensive background in composite materials, as he owns a firm that designs lightweight carbon fiber bikes, and collaborated with Apple on a carbon fiber shell patent back in 2009.
When Apple and Keeney collaborated in the past, Keeney was ‘only’ a consultant, but this time around, Keeney was hired as a full time employee, a sign that composite materials could be on Apple’s roadmap for the next generation of iOS devices, and Macbooks.
The shell of the iPad is currently made out of aluminum, switching to carbon composites would allow Apple to dramatically reduce the weight of the device, and would make it a lot less prone to dents, as composite material are a lot more resilient to bumps than metal.