Unibody on Ultrabook: Metal on the outside, plastic on the inside


A precision aluminum unibody enclosure gives Mac notebooks structural integrity, providing all of the mounting features in a single part.

Makers of Ultrabooks, ultra-thin notebooks that conform to Intel’s recommended specs, are facing difficulties replicating Apple’s unibody process, citing limited capacity and price restrictions on the unibody process. They’ve come to realize that unibody construction requires expensive CNC equipment to machine a sturdy notebook case from a single block of aluminum, including internal parts and mounting features. Apple’s contract manufacturer Foxconn and supplier Catcher Technology own thousands of CNC machines and you can imagine where their priorities lie.

According to DigiTimes, the makers of would-be MacBook Air killers are turning to the cheaper high-density fiberglass chassis for the low-end, said to cost up to $30. For the high-end, Apple’s rivals are combining the exterior aluminum enclosure with plastic parts inside. Such a semi-unibody case is said to cost between $40 and $80:

The new aluminum chassis with plastic internal parts design will allow Ultrabooks to feature a metal appearance, but all the internal parts will be made from plastic stuck to metal parts using glue. Read more