Yesterday during Apple’s iPad Air event, the company officially announced pricing and availability for the next-generation Mac Pro with the completely redesigned high-end Mac shipping in December starting at $2999. Since the new Mac Pro will be one of the first devices assembled in the US under Apple’s new initiative to bring manufacturing of some of its Macs back home, the company also ran a short video showing off the assembly process of the machine.
Today, industrial designer Greg Koenig has provided an interesting walkthrough of the video on his blog AtomicDelights that gives us an understanding of exactly what we’re looking at in Apple’s video above:
Most metal stampings go through one or two die tools to produce the final shape. With the Mac Pro though, the challenge is to produce a massive amount of plastic deformation without tearing, rippling or deforming the perfect cylindrical surface. To do this, the enclosure is drawn through a series of dies that progressively stretch the aluminum into something approaching the final shape of a Mac Pro.
Deep drawing is a process that very efficiently produces a “net shape” part. Apple could have just chucked a giant hunk of aluminum in a lathe and created the same part, but that amount of metal removal is extremely inefficient. Deep drawing efficiently creates a hunk of metal that is very close to the final shape of a Mac Pro in just a couple of operations. After that, the Mac Pro enclosure is lathe turned to clean up the surface and achieve desired tolerance, polished, placed back in a machining center to produce the I/O, power button and chamfer features and finally anodized.
With the Mac Pro, Apple has elevated a relatively low-precision/low-tolerance process (deep draw stamping) used to make my dog’s water bowl and toilet brush canister into the creation of an aerospace grade piece of desktop jewelry.
You can check out the full walkthrough of the video on AtomicDelights here.