Apple-Liquidmetal Collaboration Awarded Patent on Process for Mass Production of Amorphous Metals

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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
  2. chumawumba macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2012
    Ask the NSA
    Don't worry. Samsung will make a watch out of liquidmetal soon enough.
  3. Four oF NINE macrumors 68000

    Four oF NINE

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hell's Kitchen
    This is a fascinating development, but what would be the advantage over billet aluminum?
  4. Daws001 macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2011
    The States
    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 :cool:

    Only, Samsung's cheap knockoff version will likely be mercury and end up killing half its owners.
  5. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    It's possible to see the iPhone 6 and iWatch with liquidmetal now... but when do you think we'll see liquidmetal macbook airs?


    uhh Apple has the exclusive rights to all consumer liquidmetal products
  6. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    This tech is amazing.
  7. keysofanxiety macrumors 604


    Nov 23, 2011
    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? :eek:
  8. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Hopefully apple use this material in the next iphone to minimize the weak and bent aluminium iphone 5.
  9. Solomani macrumors 68030


    Sep 25, 2012
    So can my future iMac morph into a Terminator T1000? Or can Terminators morph into iMacs? :confused:
  10. SimonTheSoundMa macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    Come on Apple!

    Microsoft use it in their Surface tablets BTW.
  11. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    For the iPhone 6, anyone..?

    "Apple doesn't innovate, my a**"
  12. Solomani macrumors 68030


    Sep 25, 2012
    LOL taking shortcuts to get to market faster. :D
  13. street.cory macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2009
    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.
  14. Ichabod. macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2012
    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).
  15. keysofanxiety macrumors 604


    Nov 23, 2011
    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 ... [​IMG]
  16. paul4339 macrumors 65816

    Sep 14, 2009
    I thought it's already used in some consumer products... Samsung made liquid metal parts for their phones a few years ago (I think).

  17. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    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.
  18. ridwan47 macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2013
  19. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    Yea, Samsung used some Liquidmetal components back in '02 but Apple got the exclusive agreements years after that.
  20. decimortis macrumors 6502


    Aug 28, 2007
    Somebody should post a Terminator reference...

  21. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Are you claiming that Samsung would copy a technology to which Apple owns the patents? Surely they wouldn't do that.
  22. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    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.
  23. mbh macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2002
    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?
  24. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    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.
  25. solong4now macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2011
    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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