Welcome to NewsFile, your Monday roundup of news from the contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art world!
Kicking off this week, we have a news item that we can cash in for an SEO high score: the new Apple iPhone 8 may feature some ceramics components. You read that right, the Apple iPhone 8, not the new Apple iPhone 7. In an example of how tiny these mobile lifecycles are, Apple is apparently already planning the 7’s replacement, according to QZ. QZ cited Brian Roemmele, who dug through patent documents filed by Apple.
Roemmele points to three Apple filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office to back up his prediction. Collectively, they show that Apple has developed techniques to make ceramic components that contain electronics.
The newest filing, published Sept. 8, is the most interesting. It’s a patent application that describes how Apple could “co-mold” a housing for an electronic device from polymer—which could be a plastic or rubber—and ceramic. The ceramic part is the external housing, while the polymer, which is easier to mold into intricate shapes, comes into contact with the electronics. Co-molding the materials means the components can be made more precisely and quickly than if they were manufactured separately and then glued together, the filing states.
According to the filings, the components would be more scratch resistant, glossy and lightweight. If this plays out in reality as it does in our dreams, this would be a pro-consumer step for Apple to take, something that’s much-needed after they decided to replace the 7’s dirt-cheap headphone jack with a pair of ugly $150 earbuds that look like Q-tips.
We should maintain some doubt, though. “Planned obsolescence” is a criticism that gets leveled at the mobile industry with very good reason. It’s possible Apple’s looking for a material that could be a little cheaper to produce, rather than a material that will protect your cell phone from an early demise (and another $700 sent to Apple). Also, patent filings aren’t a definitive confirmation that the next iteration of a product will include those things. Sometimes a corporation is just covering all its bases.
I’m Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8th I am I am
Much thanks to the Daily Mail for giving me cause to use what could be the oldest pop culture reference I’ve ever made on this site. Developers working with Oxford Archeology in Essex stumbled across a 500-year-old kiln, which researchers believe could have been used in the construction of Henry VIII’s Palace of Beaulieu.
The kiln itself would have been used to produce lime (calcium oxide) for use in mortar, concrete and plaster by burning limestone, or in this case chalk’, confirmed developer Countryside in a joint statement with its co-developer L&Q and Oxford Archaeology East, which carried out the dig.
‘The date of the kiln suggests that it may relate to the construction or later development of Henry VIII’s Palace of Beaulieu, which is now known as New Hall.’
New Hall School is an independent boarding school.
What happens to the kiln? It’s currently closed off for health and safety reasons, but maybe this could give researchers some time to investigate the find more thoroughly. The firm is under no obligation to protect the site, which could be covered over unless it is declared an ancient monument by the government, which is unlikely. Such is the price of progress, though this is the UK, where according to popular assumption is a place where you can’t walk to the grocery store without tripping over several ancient historical sites.
“Cotton Candy” Nanofibers for Bulletproof Vests
Harvard researchers are developing a new type of production technique that could create lightweight body armor out of spiderweb-thin nanofibers. The American Ceramic Society, one of our favorite sources for ceramic tech news, said this would be a development beyond typical boron and silicon carbide body armor. Kit Parker, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve is spearheading the research, drawing inspiration from, of all things, cotton candy.
From the ACS:
At the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), scientists are developing next generation nanofibers spun from polymers—similar to how cotton candy is spun from sugar.
In fact, according to a NSF Science Nation story, the principal investigator of the research, Army reserve lieutenant colonel Kit Parker, was actually inspired by a cotton candy machine.
Now his lab is working towards developing that technology to spin fibers for wound healing applications, bulletproof vests, and beyond.
A Partnership between Stoke-on-Trent and Jingdezhen
A ceramic crossover that would be like Batman meeting Spider-Man for ceramics nuts is underway. Stoke-on-Trent in the UK and Jingdezhen in China have signed an agreement which one would think would make them sister cities, though there are some heftier economic pacts at work. From the Stoke city web site, the agreement would:
Develop exchange opportunities for students and entrepreneurs
Encourage joint projects between universities and institutes of learning, including Staffordshire University and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute – a university-level organisation
Encourage investors to support economic growth in both cities
Identify opportunities to establish joint ventures between companies based in both cities.
Councillor Munday said: “This agreement is an historic moment; it builds on strong ties and exchange visits developed by the two cities over a number of years which was previously led by my predecessor as Lord Mayor, councillor Jean Bowers.
“There is already a natural alliance between the two cities – we share a common focus on the incredible value of culture and heritage. We share a common bond of friendship and interest, with cultural and civic links between our two centres of learning and enterprise.”
Congratulations to the two cities for finalizing an agreement centuries in the making.
Bill Rodgers is the Managing Editor of cfile.daily.
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