Apple Explains The Precision Manufacturing Process For The iPad Pro And Reiterates The 400 Micron Tolerance For Bends

Apple has published a support document describing the manufacturing process for the new iPad Pro’s enclosure in an effort to reassure customers that the device is durable and sturdy.
In the support document released late on Friday, Apple describes the new manufacturing process used to construct the iPad Pro enclosure. In addition, the company is reiterating its stated tolerance for the case and what users should do if they believe an iPad Pro has been bent beyond what Apple considers acceptable.

Small vertical bands or “splits” on the sides of the iPad allow portions of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas for optimal cellular performance. These bands are manufactured using the co-molding technique for the first time ever on an iPad. During this high-temperature procedure, plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure, where it bonds to the surface’s microscopic pores. After the plastic has cooled, the entire enclosure is completed with CNC machining, resulting in the seamless integration of plastic and aluminum into a single, strong enclosure.

In the note, Apple also specifies that the “flatness specification” allows for no more than 400 microns of deviation along the length of any given side. In addition, it states that “the new straight edges and the presence of antenna splits may make imperceptible deviations in flatness more visible from certain viewing angles only.”

Online reports of curved or bent iPad Pro models began to circulate shortly after the device’s November release. Some affected users have reported to AppleInsider that the bend gradually develops over the course of several weeks of use, while others have observed an abnormal bend right out of the box. End-to-end bends greater than the thickness of a U.S. dime, or approximately 1300 microns, have continued to be reported to AppleInsider by users. However, we are unable to confirm the veracity of the reports we have received, nor have we independently discovered a problem.

Apple confirmed on December 19 that “some” 2018 iPad Pro models ship with a slightly bowed chassis. The company stated at the time — and reiterated on Friday — that the deformation does not affect performance and is not a defect.

Apple reported in December that the return rate for its most recent iPad Pro is normal, indicating that the majority of users have not noticed or are unaffected by the manufacturing defect. Since the original report, AppleInsider has observed a statistically insignificant increase of less than one-half of one percent in the total number of service calls for any Apple product. Therefore, it is unclear how widespread the issue is currently.

Apple suggests that users who believe the iPad Pro does not meet the 400-micron tolerance contact Apple support and take advantage of the company’s 14-day return policy, similar to what AppleInsider reported in December. “Apple also provides up to a one-year warranty on our products and will cover damage caused by a defect in materials or workmanship,” the company states.

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