Apple Details 2018 iPad Pro ‘Co-Molding’ Enclosure Manufacturing Process

Ruben Fields
January 13, 2019

According to Apple, that makes them 35 percent faster than the 2017 iPad Pros (which feature an A10X Fusion chip) for single-core tasks and up to 90 percent faster on multi-core tasks. The support page talks about the cellular models of the iPad but there have been pictures suggesting Wifi only models are also plagued by a similar issue.

For cellular models, Apple says integrated cellular bands in the sides of the iPad Pro allow "parts of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas", similar to what we've seen on the iPhone.

The strips are added using a process called "co-molding" where "plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminum surface".

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For those that don't really care how their iPad is made - a constituency which, let's face it, encompasses almost everyone - the executive summary is that the new cellular iPad Pro uses co-moulding to inject plastic into "precisely milled channels in the aluminium enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminium surface". Apple claimed that the targeted flatness deviation is lower than prior generations of the iPad Pro, but the company said that the subtle differences in thickness may be more perceptible to customers due to the straight-edge corner design. Cupertino stressed that these slight bends are imperceptible during normal use and they don't affect the enclosure's strength or the tablet's performance. Apple's Vice President of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, also attempted to sweep the problem under the proverbial rug by claiming that the iPad Pro meets or exceeds all of the company's high quality standards. Under normal usage, an iPad with 400 microns of bend will make it hard to spot with the naked eye. The company completely ignores evidence to the contrary, however, such as the video by JerryRigEverything that showed a 2018 iPad Pro bending like a paperback book with minimal pressure. And whether or not an iPad Pro bends to the extent exhibited by Zack Nelson in his viral JerryRigEverything review, one would hope that a product potentially running customers more than $1,000 doesn't come bent straight out of the packaging. Instead, it feels as though Apple is yet again trying to sweep the entire situation under the rug and pretend that bending to a degree of more than 400 microns isn't happening. It seems it's the process of combining plastic with antenna "splits" for the cellular model using a new co-molding technique that may result in slight bends. The tech giant states that its tolerances are even higher on the new 2018 iPad Pro lineup.

Of course, it's possible some of the devices that are exhibiting bends in excess of Apple's tolerances are mistreating their devices.

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