Rumor: Apple looking into using carbon fiber in 'completely different' way than usual

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A new rumor claims Apple has been working with a carbon fiber maker for years, in an effort to develop new ways of using the material to create a device's outside shell.

Following up one of its earlier reports, Japanese Apple blog Macotakara reported on Tuesday that while current devices are currently available, Apple is looking to make something "completely different" than the norm. The report suggests that Apple could weave the fiber in a unique way that would be unlike what other manufacturers have done to date.

According to the rumor, Apple has been heavily researching the use of carbon fiber in its devices for at least three years. In that timeframe, Apple is said to have worked closely with a Japanese company.

The same site reported last month that Apple had ordered a large number of parts made of carbon fiber. That was taken to suggest that the company could be planning to build a new product made of the durable-yet-lightweight material.

Apple's interest in carbon fiber has been previously detailed in a number of patent filings by the company, including one from last month that described carbon fiber housings for a new MacBook design. Another patent application from 2010 described how Apple might use carbon fiber to make a lighter and stronger iPad.

The back of the current iPad is made from a single billet of aluminum, which increases the weight but also greatly improves the rigidity of the device. Apple's new iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter than its predecessor thanks in part to a change from glass to metal back.