Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Apple details new MacBook manufacturing process

MacBook Pro manufacture

Prince McLean, AppleInsider

Apple’s new MacBook and MacBook Pro feature precision unibody enclosures milled from an extruded block of aluminum, allowing them to get even thinner while retaining rigid durability and a stronger, cleaner, and more polished design. Here’s a detailed overview of the process, illustrated with photos.

In a press release touting the new manufacturing process, Steve Jobs said, “Apple has invented a whole new way of building notebooks from a single block of aluminum.” (Watch the video)

Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Industrial Design, noted that, “Traditionally notebooks are made from multiple parts. With the new MacBook, we’ve replaced all of those parts with just one part—the unibody. The MacBook’s unibody enclosure is made from a single block of aluminum, making the new MacBook fundamentally thinner, stronger and more robust with a fit and finish that we’ve never even dreamed of before.”

Continues: Apple details new MacBook manufacturing process

14 comments

1 Jon T { 10.15.08 at 3:07 am }

And Dan must be eating a vast helping of humble pie…

Rebrickulous..!

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/10/09/rebrickulous-cutting-through-the-macbook-rumors/

2 Dr. Fu { 10.15.08 at 4:24 am }

Well, that´s actually one of the very few times Daniel was clearly wrong. I myself did not believe either that they would cut the body out of aluminum. It would be interesting how much energy it really takes to build one of these because of the 13 miling operations and the recycling. I think it´s much.

3 CCS { 10.15.08 at 5:49 am }

I was just looking at my beloved 12″ PowerBook G4. It seems so clunky with its physical latch and release button. Tiny trackpad. Protruding power adapter plug. Screws and nubules.

The new MacBook did seem attractive, so nicely shaped, finally, decent graphics, but no FireWire? I also kinda like having my modem on board. Yeesh! I’m so old fashioned and sentimental. Where do they get the bottom plate from? The same block of aluminum? A matched set? Heh.

4 PeterK { 10.15.08 at 7:27 am }

One of the very few times? Remember just the last Apple’s event “Let’s Rock”? Before that Daniel wrote a pointless, cruel and very personal attack against Kevin Rose who got almost everything right about that event. http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/08/24/whats-next-from-apple-new-ipods-sept-22-iphone-os-21-itunes-80/

[Oh please, step up the weeping melodrama a notch so we can cry with you. "Cruel and very personal"? Don't be a douche. I only pointed out that everything Rose has ever "predicted" was based on guesswork or a leak, and that was accurate. He forwarded along a Chinese leak. Everything he originated (like Blu-ray support) he got wrong, and his previous predictions have been consistently wrong apart from leaks days or hours before an event. ]

And now the Rebrickulous piece where we can read that “This is all so breathtakingly stupid that bears some resemblance to the election”.

[Everything I wrote about being attached to the "brick" was ridiculous, from guessed products to US manufacturing. The fact that you are able to make connections after the fact between machine working a piece of metal and "laser and water jets to cut a device from a brick" says more about the nature of gullibility and Nostradamus-style prophesy. Again, don't be a douche.]

And don’t get me started with iPhone “myths” about nobody except Daniel has heard of (http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/10/07/myth-9-iphone-unable-to-penetrate-europe-due-to-symbian-dominance/), but this does not stop him to vigorously fight with those “myths”.

[So thanks for finally getting around to the point: you're butthurt about Symbian's rapid decline and you'd like the world to believe that NOBODY ever said that Symbian would prevent any adoption of the iPhone in Europe. Maybe try reading something from 2006. ]

5 PXT { 10.15.08 at 9:32 am }

@Daniel,

Sorry to post off-topic, but I wonder if you would consider an article on the impact the new NVIDIA chipset might mean in terms of Snow Leopard and contrasting MacBook vs MacBook Pro impact. I wonder if Snow leopard might feel a bit like a processor upgrade to the current notebooks.

6 GwMac { 10.15.08 at 9:40 am }

If Apple had released these new Macbooks with a Firewire 800 port and heaven forbid an expressCard slot, then I might not mind the $200 price increase. It could have simply been a new and smaller MBP. Then they could have kept the old Macbook black case, maybe upgraded the integrated graphics to Intel 4500, no expresscard, and lowered the price to say $899 for an entry level model of 2.1GHz.

Instead they kept the much less popular white case, kept the now outdated Intel 3100, and only lowered the price to $999, while also removing the firewire port. No firewire is a very big deal to a lot of people. Musicians that use it for sound equipment, people that have external FW drives, being able to record off your Cable DVR like I do, firewire devices like my iPod and 5 in 1 card reader, and probably most importantly target disk mode.

Make no mistake, this was not because there was no room for a firewire port. This was simply a calculated move by SJ that those people requiring FW would now be forced to get a MBP and pay $700 more. I hope everyone that thinks that leaving Firewire out was a bad decision will let Apple know here. http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbook.html

[So instead of pushing Pro technologies down to the MacBook at the same or less price and selling the previous generation MB at a discount, you'd rather Apple have ALSO developed a competing plastic line with an entirely different set of features and hardware that looked a lot like a Dell. Are you aware we are talking about Apple here? That would have been awful, and like Dell, it would have resulted in a poorly designed, cheap PC with no growth and no sustainable profit.]

7 David Lightstab { 10.15.08 at 11:16 am }

Now, now, don’t bash on Dan. I actually agreed with him about this process and didn’t think it possible. The use of all that water sounded a bit wasteful to me, and the laser thing, just wow.

The most annoying thing about this, it that someone was able to leak it. That’s becoming very annoying. Or is Apple doing it on purpose?

8 danieleran { 10.15.08 at 2:00 pm }

The annoying thing about the rumor reporting going around is that people get a whiff of some idea (seems like it’s all leaking out of China now) and write up a fanciful take that is really just wrong. This is not bricks of metal being cut by lasers and water jets, its standard machining.

Reporting the story accurately would have been newsworthy, as Apple is doing something interesting here (new for laptop manufacture, not new for the manufacturing industry). Instead, we got a series of ridiculous reports followed up with people taking a buzzword and attaching it to various things they wanted to see.

Which is what I wrote about. Anyone with a specialty in metallurgy or manufacturing would (and did) say that the brick rumor made no sense. Now, if you strip away what the rumors actually said, and replace it with “oh, but parts were right,” like the part about starting with metal and ending with a product, then you can excuse the fact that what was actually reported was wrong.

And if you strip away my actual criticisms in Rebrickulous (that the idea was being attached to a variety of bad product ideas, that it would use lasers to cut big blocks of metal, and that it could be done in the US, and so on) then you can decide that I was wrong because sure enough, they’re starting with metal and ending with a product. Problem is I nor anyone else identified that as the problem with the story.

On the other hand, I did get everything else right in my conclusions, not because I got an email from China, but because that stuff made sense:

- the same recessed keyboard of the Air and the standard MacBook on the MacBook Pro
- a revised set of ports that appears likely to drop FireWire 400 for FireWire 800 or even FW-3200
- a mini DVI video port to save room (turned out to be Mini Display Port, which I didn’t think Apple would adopt yet)
- the movement of all ports to the right side, allowing for a left side loading optical drive (Ha and no Blu-ray)
- the use of the vacated front edge to store a full width battery bay, also supplying hard drive and RAM access like the MacBook

I’m a bit bummed that my most distant fantasy/hope for a display on the trackpad didn’t make it, but I still think that’s the next step. I also didn’t note my earlier stated hope that Apple would put the 4th conductor on the headphone jack so you could use iPhone headphones for a mic and play control, but I’m ECSTATIC they did it.

9 PeterK { 10.15.08 at 3:21 pm }

Yeah right.
“The future of new MacBooks is not carved blocks of metal, but rather precision stamped metal”.
“The Air is creative; a laser cut block would have a lot more design constraints than a curvaceous stamped metal shell as well as higher costs and greater waste.”

And if you still don’t get it what was THE POINT, then watch the movie on Apple’s site again: the WHOLE idea was to mill the body from single block of metal. Nobody explains HOW its is cut, all the story is arond the BRICK itself – the body is rigid ONLY BECAUSE it is carved from SINGLE block of metal, not HOW it is carved.

And I don’t care about Symbian, personally I think its’s pile of poop. But in my dictionary myth is “a widely held but false belief or idea”. Maybe in Canadian English myth really means “what some second grade analyst probably somewhere in third grade publication said two years ago”. Go figure.

And about Rose, whom I don’t know and particulary don’t like. Why was it even needed to touch with stick somebody who is “constantly wrong”. Let him be wrong. What newsworty in that? Why do i need read 2700 words piece about somebody being wrong. What did he do to you? Turned down your love?

10 GwMac { 10.15.08 at 3:24 pm }

@ Dan: This is a follow up to your comment above my last post.

You misunderstood me. I simply meant that instead of selling a previous version in white like they are doing, I wish they had chosen black instead. Personal preference, but I think most people prefer black. Since it is cheaper, I understand why they could remove firewire from the $999 model to get you to buy the aluminum models at a higher price point.

As far as the new aluminum Macbooks starting at $1299, since when is firewire a Pro feature? Oh wait, it is starting now. I could live without an express card slot, even though most PC laptops even at $500 offer that, but leaving out firewire is extremely disappointing. At least with an express card slot we could add firewire if we needed to. Why do you think they chose to leave off firewire and an express card slot on what is essentially a professional priced laptop?

11 GwMac { 10.15.08 at 4:31 pm }

By the way, isn’t the $999 Macbook slightly redesigned since they removed the firewire port? While redesigning it, how hard would it have been to include Intel 4500 instead of the older and much slower 3100?

No matter how you spin it, I think removing firewire was a bad move and I would have much preferred HDMI. I have two HDTVs with HDMI but with a new Macbook I would now need a DVI adapter dongle, a DVI to HDMI cable, as well as an optical audio cable. Even my current monitor has an HDMI input.

To me the Macbooks are trying to be smaller versions of the MBP at least aesthetically, but Apple still stubbornly refuses to give them the same features. I am sure I am not alone in wanting a true 13″ version of the MBP or a 15″ version of a Macbook at a lower price point. Seems silly that screen size determines the cost when more times than not 15″ and 17″ screened laptops are often far cheaper since they cost less to produce.

My dream Apple laptop line:
Macbook 10″ Netbook version around $700
Macbook 13″ $899 to$1199 depending on CPU with Intel integrated
Macbook 15″ $999 to $1299 Intel integrated

Macbook Pro
13″ version basically the current $1299 Macbook aluminum and just add firewire 800 and an expresscard slot
15″ version- perfect as is though slightly cheaper would be nice.
17″ version – just upgrade to new enclosure and graphics which they will do soon.

12 seth { 10.15.08 at 4:33 pm }

Hey Dan,
Re: Rebrickulous…We all get ‘em wrong sometimes, no biggie. I have to admit I did laugh when you bashed my story though – having seen the video, I knew you were in for a heaping helping of humble pie when it was announced.

I also just saw your piece on the glass trackpad LCD – good stuff. I would have seen it earlier had you linked to my post revealing it!
Keep up the good work.
Seth (Big fan)

13 David Lightstab { 10.16.08 at 2:39 am }

You know, Dan, I really don’t understand anything about machining, but it seems the essence of what people were saying was right. Of course, looking back, I still don’t see lasers slicing through block of aluminum, so let’s just say, no one was completely right. No one was completely wrong, but the essence of the story, that is, that Apple had developed a new process to strengthen the MacBooks, was true.

It doesn’t matter one way or the other, I’m just happy that Apple is moving forward. If they are presenting this stuff now, I’m wondering what will be shown at MacWorld. Whatever it is, it will be great.

14 LuisDias { 10.16.08 at 8:07 am }

I also think that Dan got it wrong. I also got wrong in telling that it was ridiculous to see the “brick” as something “literal”. Dan, cut the losses and go forward. We’re all human, you know?

About the LCD touchscreen, ahah, well I guess I nailed it. Steve answered it quite correctly, in my view, by saying it didn’t fit the MB at all. Again, Dan, you were wrong. But so what? I think that perhaps you need to reassess things because things have changed. It seems that leaks are now part of the system, iPhone’s secrecy system is obsolete. So I guess that some moron pundits have found a way to circumvent insight and reason that you clearly have, Dan (though not always, ha!), to go right through to what’s really happening by looking at their leaks.

Yeah, it’s a cheat, and I understand your anger. The game’s suddenly not fair again.

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