The patent application, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is titled “Anodized Part Having a Matte Black Appearance,” and outlines the characteristics of the finish and possible manufacturing processes to achieve it. The patent notes that the finish can be used on a range of metals and metal alloys, including aluminum, titanium, and steel.
The finish comprises an anodized layer that includes “randomly distributed light-absorbing features that are capable of absorbing visible light.” The layer contains pores, “where color particles are infused within the pores.” The resulting surface is a deep, intense matte black.
A genuine black color is extremely difficult to achieve, with most commercial “black” products actually being dark gray or blue. The patent explains that “merely depositing dye particles within pores of an anodized layer is insufficient to impart a true black color.”
One of the issues involved is that, generally, the truer the black, the higher the gloss of the finish, which in turn reflects a large amount of visible light. In etching the surface of an anodized layer with pores, Apple is able to absorb “generally all visible light” to deliver a truer black finish without increasing glossiness.
Apple’s solution appears to be tantamount to existing true-black solutions such as “Vantablack,” which is one of the darkest substances known, absorbing up to 99.965 percent of light.
Although there are other options such as skins, Apple has never offered a matte black MacBook. The company has experimented with a number of matte black finishes on other products, however, such as the iPhone 7.
Patent applications cannot be taken as proof of what Apple is intending to bring to market and many patented ideas never reach the shelves. Nonetheless, they provide an interesting insight into what Apple is researching and developing behind the scenes.