Apple is once again rumored to be looking into carbon fiber as a material for use in a future product. Citing a source within a Japanese company that produces carbon fiber, Japanese Apple blog Macotakara today says Apple has ordered up "large" samples of the product.
The outlet didn't into specifics about where that carbon fiber might be headed, short of noting that Apple has filed for patents that make mention of carbon fiber, and is on the lookout for a senior engineer to work on carbon in Japan.
Rumors about Apple and carbon fiber have been around for years, and have centered on Apple's portable products like its notebooks and the iPad as a way to cut weight and improve durability. So far Apple has stuck primarily with aluminum in those devices, going so far as to phase out plastic with the discontinuation of the unibody MacBooks last year.
A handful of Apple's competitors have gone with carbon fiber in their products, including Gigabyte. Its X11 notebook, announced earlier this year, was touted as the world's lightest at about 2.1 pounds, and with an exterior that was six times stronger than aluminum. Months before, Dell had introduced its XPS 13, a notebook that made use of carbon fiber in its chassis.
Apple was granted a patent for "carbon composite mold design" earlier this month, a process for mass-producing carbon fiber molds. In its patent, the company noted that its technology could result in lighter housings for "laptops, notebook computers, and other relatively large and heavy portable computer devices."