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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:37 AM   #1
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Apple-Liquidmetal Collaboration Awarded Patent on Process for Mass Production of Amorphous Metals




Back in 2010, Apple signed an agreement with Caltech spinoff Liquidmetal Technologies, giving Apple exclusive access to the firm's unique metal alloys for consumer electronics applications. Liquidmetal's "amorphous metal alloys", sometimes referred to as "metallic glass" due to their non-crystalline molecular structures, offer several advantages over many other metals, including superior strength and durability. Apple had quietly tested Liquidmetal by using it in the SIM card eject tool for the iPhone 3G, but the material has yet to make any additional appearances in Apple's products.

The agreement between Apple and Liquidmetal funneled the covered intellectual property through a subsidiary known as Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, and Liquidmetal is required to submit all of its newly developed intellectual property to that subsidiary through at least February 2014.

As pointed out by MacDailyNews, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday issued a patent assigned to Crucible covering processes for mass producing thin sheets of amorphous metal alloys, suggesting that Apple and Liquidmetal are indeed making progress with the material. Of the five inventors listed on the patent, which was filed in May 2012, two are Apple product design engineers and three are engineers at Liquidmetal Technologies.
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A conventional method for making a BMG [bulk metallic glass] sheet requires casting a amorphous metal alloy at or above the melting temperature of the amorphous metal alloy, freezing the molten amorphous metal alloy in a sheet mold to form a sheet, and then using a cutting tool to remove the gate portion of the cast sheet and shape the cast sheet into the desired final geometry. However, casting requires melting and cooling of the amorphous metal alloy in a sheet mold, and this can cause uncontrolled amount of amorphicity in the BMG sheet. Furthermore, the post-processing cost for removing the gate and runner overflow and shaping the cast sheet into the desired final sheet geometry can be quite high. Therefore, new methods for making BMG sheets that overcome the above mentioned limitations of the casting process are desirable. [...]

A proposed solution according to embodiments herein for the manufacture of bulk-solidifying amorphous sheets is to use a float glass process and/or a conveyor belt-type process.
The patent describes how molten BMG could be continuously poured onto a shallow bath of molten tin, where it would flow to form a sheet. The thickness of the sheets would be controlled by the speed at which cooling BMG is removed from the tin bath. The patent specifically claims that such a float plant could operate continuously for 10-15 years, producing approximately 6,000 kilometers of BMG per year in thicknesses ranging from 0.1 mm to 25 mm and widths up to 3 meters.

Rumors of Liquidmetal's alloys being used for Apple's iPhone have surfaced a number of times, but last year Liquidmetal's Atakan Peker noted that Apple was unlikely to use the alloys as major design materials for at least 2-4 years due to the production scale needed for such parts as MacBook casings. With yesterday's patent, however, it does appear that Apple and Liquidmetal may have developed processes to overcome that hurdle.

Article Link: Apple-Liquidmetal Collaboration Awarded Patent on Process for Mass Production of Amorphous Metals
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:41 AM   #2
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Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:42 AM   #3
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This is a fascinating development, but what would be the advantage over billet aluminum?
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:42 AM   #4
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Sweet. I anxiously await the day when I can drop my iPhone and it splatters into a liquidmetal puddle only to slowly reform back into an iPhone a la the T1000. Make it happen, Apple

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Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
Only, Samsung's cheap knockoff version will likely be mercury and end up killing half its owners.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:44 AM   #5
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It's possible to see the iPhone 6 and iWatch with liquidmetal now... but when do you think we'll see liquidmetal macbook airs?

----------

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Originally Posted by chumawumba View Post
Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
uhh Apple has the exclusive rights to all consumer liquidmetal products
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:45 AM   #6
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6,000 kilometers of BMG per year
This tech is amazing.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:46 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by chumawumba View Post
Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
Definitely. Be careful, though; all we need is one analyst to pull out a rumour about a liquidmetal iCyborg, and Samsung will come out with this:



TL;DR: Samsung=Skynet?
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:47 AM   #8
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Hopefully apple use this material in the next iphone to minimize the weak and bent aluminium iphone 5.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:48 AM   #9
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So can my future iMac morph into a Terminator T1000? Or can Terminators morph into iMacs?
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:49 AM   #10
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Come on Apple!

Microsoft use it in their Surface tablets BTW.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:49 AM   #11
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For the iPhone 6, anyone..?

"Apple doesn't innovate, my a**"
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by daws001 View Post
only, samsung's cheap knockoff version will likely be mercury and end up killing half its owners.
LOL taking shortcuts to get to market faster.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:51 AM   #13
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Hopefully this Liquidmetal strikes the right balance of weight and strength. Holding and iPhone 4/4S next to an iPhone 5, you appreciate the aluminum. However, it dents fairly easily.

Looking forward to it.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:52 AM   #14
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Amazing for a company with $21 million in market cap. I wonder why someone doesn't buy them already (unless that speaks to something about their product).
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:55 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Solomani View Post
So can my future iMac morph into a Terminator T1000? Or can Terminators morph into iMacs?
Well at least they'd be a little sturdier. I'd be quite happy knowing that my iMac could take a shotgun to the face.

Unfortunately, after checking my sources, they're probably still susceptible to water damage ...
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:55 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
...

uhh Apple has the exclusive rights to all consumer liquidmetal products
I thought it's already used in some consumer products... Samsung made liquid metal parts for their phones a few years ago (I think).

.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:57 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ichabod. View Post
Amazing for a company with $21 million in market cap. I wonder why someone doesn't buy them already (unless that speaks to something about their product).
Because they might have an agreement with Apple that prevents such a buyout. There might be a clause in the agreement that says if the company gets an offer, they must entertain it to Apple first and Apple reserves the right to buy them out at the same price.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:57 AM   #18
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Did you say 'Liquidmetal' .. ??

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Old Jul 17, 2013, 09:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by paul4339 View Post
I thought it's already used in some consumer products... Samsung made liquid metal parts for their phones a few years ago (I think).

.
Yea, Samsung used some Liquidmetal components back in '02 but Apple got the exclusive agreements years after that.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:02 AM   #20
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Somebody should post a Terminator reference...

D.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:04 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by chumawumba View Post
Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
Are you claiming that Samsung would copy a technology to which Apple owns the patents? Surely they wouldn't do that.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:04 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by keysofanxiety View Post
You mean like the unconfirmed incident by a Chinese woman who got an electric shock from an iPhone, right?

Also, +10 for finding racism in something that had none whatsoever. Come on, grow up.
Not only is it unconfirmed yet if it was the iPhone, it could've been a knockoff charger. China has a known major problem where people are buying cheap knockoff chargers and using them with smartphones that has a super-high risk of exploding, sparking fires, and so on.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:06 AM   #23
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So, why do they want to make large sheets of this material? I thought one of the advantages of Liquid Metal is that it can be molded into complex shapes eliminating the need to machine it. Are they going to cut up these sheets and then machine them into product? Were they not able to figure out how to mold large complex pieces? Or, is this just something they figured out how to do so they figured they might as well patent it?
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:06 AM   #24
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Are you claiming that Samsung would copy a technology to which Apple owns the patents? Surely they wouldn't do that.
Who said Apple owns it? Apple doesn't own any patents here. Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC owns all of the patents here.

The question is, how much ownership does Apple have of Crucible, and what's the deal on it.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 10:08 AM   #25
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Terminator reference? Apple IS Skynet!

First they came for my CD player and I was happy
Then they came for books and I was happy but cautious
Soon they will be coming for my TV and now I KNOW soon they will be plugging ME IN!

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