DigiTimes sources in Apple’s supply chain are expecting the company to reduce the thickness of light guide plates used for the illuminated keyboards in its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models by 40 percent in 2013. With new injection process, the company will employ the same 0.25mm-thick light guide plates as compared to 0.4mm used in the existing products. With reduced keyboard thickness, lighter MacBook would give Apple another advantage over others.
The sources notes that since the current injection process for the production of 0.4mm light guide plates has been optimized to its limit, makers utilizing extrusion processes are likely to win orders for 0.25mm light guide plates.
Japan-based NJK and Taiwan-based Global Lighting Technologies are the two primary suppliers from which Apple currently sources light guide plates. Japan-based NJK uses an injection process while Global Lighting Technologies uses extrusion process and is likely to win orders for 0.25mm light guide plates.
Apple’s total MacBook family shipments are predicted to reach 15 million units in 2012, and the shipment volume is expected to continue to grow by 15-20% in 2013, the sources estimated.
Moving to new extrusion process might lead to lighter MacBook with simplified design. The next generation MacBook specs won’t be officially known for many months, but we hope that DigiTimes is correct and Apple plans to slim down the notebook.