In 2012, Lenovo released the first ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The birth of these series mark an important milestone in the history of ThinkPad development, ThinkPad’s 20th anniversary. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon marks design elements of the new ThinkPad generation, such as a 6 row keyboard, a built-in battery, rectangular power interface and a more streamlined design. It was clear that the round type power jack would not fit anymore.
The original design of ThinkPad lies with the Bento Box in 1992. If you lift up the keyboard, you had all the components inside.
Mr. Hirane, the designer of the 1st generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon, emphasized that ThinkPad is a ‘professional tool’ for professionals. Each generation of ThinkPad has inherited the ‘ThinkPad Design DNA’ since 2012. This makes people recognize a ThinkPad when they see it. The hardest part of maintaining the ThinkPad DNA is incorporating new design elements, while also moving forward to thinner and lighter designs year after year.
Using the best materials
To achieve such a thin and light design, you require the best materials. The carbon fiber material used in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the best example of the combination of process technology and modeling. Although many notebook manufacturers are now using carbon fiber materials, there are many grades of carbon fiber materials, which can be graded by tensile strength. Tensile strength determines how much force is required to pull to break it. The higher the value, the less likely it is to break or deform. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon back cover uses a carbon fiber tensile strength of more than 500 GPa and is already aerospace grade. At present, the carbon fiber tensile strength used in the wide-body aircraft is usually 300 GPa.
The X1 Carbon Gen 1 back cover uses the 7th generation of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), and the 7th generation CFRP was made of glass fiber (GFRP) on the back side of the back cover. In addition to providing sufficient protection, it also enhances the performance of wireless transmission. In other words, two different materials make up the back cover. The surrounding material is GFRP, and the middle material is CFRP.
Later, the back cover of the X1 Carbon Gen 5 even used the Carbon Fiber Network core in the ‘Lightweight Layer’ design to further reduce the weight of the back cover while maintaining the sturdiness. This is a mesh to reinforce the lid or the back of the display panel to prevent flexing and breaking. Otherwise, the display panel might just crack as you open the lid with one hand.