Apple Inc's MacBook Air notebook, since its debut in January 2008, has attracted the interest of not only users but also engineers who wonder, "How did they reduce the thickness this much?"

In addition to its slimness represented by the thinnest part of 4.0mm and the thickest part of 19.4mm, the design in which the thickness is smaller at the edges gives a strong impression.

To achieve this slimness, Apple used several techniques to optimally embed the parts and increase the rigidity of the chassis as well as the adoption of an odd-shaped (laminar) Li-polymer secondary battery cell.

To grasp those techniques not only by the numbers but also by the senses, Nikkei Board Guide examined the MacBook Air by using illustrations that show the arrangements of the parts in a 3D perspective. As a result, we could make it clear how the chassis, keyboard, main board, battery LCD panel, backlight and other components are placed in the small space without interfering with each other.

Parts Layout

Below is an exploded diagram of the MacBook Air, made by 3D- modeling each part. Its structure is relatively simple, and no part looks difficult to assemble. However, there are many screws used to put together the parts, and they are not uniform in type or size.

In some parts, the methods of glueing, spot welding, double-sided taping, etc are used. For example, a double-sided tape is used to fix the decorative laminated sheet of the LCD display.

There was nothing unusual about the main board. It was designed on a sound basis. However, it is embedded with custom microprocessors in smaller packages to reduce the size of the board.

NOTE: This article is a translation of an article published in the summer 2008 issue of Nikkei Board Guide. The numbers and part names in the text were estimated by the staff of the magazine.