The new, ultra-thin iMacs may not be shipping yet, but they are at using cutting-edge manufacturing and fabricating techniques that are right out of the space program.
Case in point? The way the new iMacs achieve their remarkable thinness is because of something called friction-stir welding, and it’s a process that’s been used in spacecraft fuel tanks and airplane wings.
The Register explains more:
Invented in 1991 by Wayne Thomas at TWI, friction-stir welding is a solid-state process, meaning that it doesn’t require the materials to be melted for them to be joined. Instead it softens and merges the edges by mixing the two materials under frictional heat.
The result is a smoother join of very high strength, and the process is quicker and uses less energy than traditional welding techniques.
It allows the join to be thinner too, so Apple can reduce the width of the iMac down to half a centimetre when attaching the front to the back of the computer: a “seamless, precise, and superstrong join” according to Apple.