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Are carbon fiber Apple products in the works?

apple-carbon-fiber-logoYour next MacBook could be made of ultra lightweight carbon fiber, if a recent Apple hire is any indication. 9to5Mac reports that Apple has brought expert carbon fiber designer Kevin Kenny on board, which suggest that his talents for working with the lightweight material could soon be used in upcoming Apple products.

Kenny, who holds the title of “Senior Composites Engineer” at Apple, comes from Kestral Bicycles, where he served as the company’s president and CEO for most of the last 14 years. Kestral is famous for its groundbreaking work with carbon fiber, and was the first company to produce an entire bicycle frame out of carbon fiber.

Apple’s materials of choice has long been aluminum, stainless steel and glass to build their popular products, from Mac computer to iPhones and iPods. The Cupertino, California, company’s employment of Kenny points to a possible shift.

As long-time Apple watchers have surely already noted, this is far from the first time rumors have surfaced about Apple planning to release products made of carbon fiber. All the way back in 2008, there was talk about Apple producing a MacBook Air laptop with carbon fiber replacing the aluminum parts. And just this February, reports indicated that the iPad 2 would have a carbon fiber body. Obviously, neither of those rumors turned out to be true.

Not all carbon fiber-Apple talk has been based purely on speculation, however. In 2009, Apple filed a patent for a “reinforced device housing” partially made of carbon fiber, which suggests either a carbon fiber Mac laptop or iOS device is in the works.

Carbon fiber isn’t the only next-generation material in Apple’s arsenal. Last year, Apple filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to acquire the rights to nearly all of the “non-crystalline alloy metals” invented by Liquidmetal Technologies.

While Apple’s production plans remain purely speculation, the constant motion of the technology industry toward more lightweight devices makes this carbon fiber talk likely — even if the specifics aren’t entirely known.