updated 07:45 pm EDT, Sun April 10, 2011
Apple hires Kenney for carbon fiber composite tech
Apple has quietly hired in a move that could realize its plans for carbon fiber-based devices. The CEO of carbon fiber bike designer Kestrel Bicycles, Kevin Kenney, has listed himself as having become a Senior Composites Engineer at Apple as of this month. He had already been working with Apple on a carbon fiber shell patent as early as 2009 and may have attracted enough attention through his work to become a permanent employee.
His experience may make him an ideal fit for leading composite design. Along with 20 years of direct design work, he has experience in creating and maintaining a supply chain, a likely necessary skill as Apple looks not just to design products but to find a way to mass-produce them on the scales it needs.
The company has used aluminum as a chief construction material since 2003 and has expanded its adoption to encompass almost all products it makes. Its choice has often been credited for light weight and thin designs, but aluminum has gradually hit limits and is being used by more and more competitors. On the iPad, a lighter material could be essential as Apple strives to get closer to the weight of an e-reader without compromising the strength.
Carbon fiber and other composites can be lighter still but until now have usually been too expensive outside of niche or premium computers. They can also create heat issues since they don't necessarily absorb heat as efficiently. [via 9to5Mac]