What is Liquid Metal?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Merkava_4, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    A lot of you people keep predicting the next version of MBP to be liquid metal, but nobody explains what it means. :confused:
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

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    http://www.appleinsider.com/article...ghts_to_custom_super_durable_metal_alloy.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidmetal
    http://www.liquidmetal.com/

    http://www.liquidmetal.com/technology/ says the following:
    found via some strange online service where one can input words and it looks for them and then gives you some page with links you can click and get answers.
     
  3. aCondor macrumors 6502

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    I think he was a character in Metal Gear Solid.
     
  4. vipergts2207 macrumors 65816

    vipergts2207

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    #4
    Liquidmetal is really a company name. The thing people are referring to is amorphous metal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amorphous_metal

    In the most basic sense, it's metal that has a glasslike structure (amorphous) instead of a crystalline structure. The amorphous structure is achieved by rapidly cooling the metal (on the order of millions of degrees per second) to prevent crystallization. The metal atoms don't have time to rearrange themselves into a crystalline structure when cooled that quickly.
     
  5. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Will it still be a CNC machined MBP made from a single piece of billet aluminum?

    I'm thinking it would be a shame to quit making the Unibody. :(
     
  6. xxplosive1984 macrumors regular

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    #6
    lmao!
     
  7. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    I would think it would largely be like a mold vs cnc'ing...though I would hope they would cnc or something to polish it up
     
  8. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    No, it's a complicated alloy made predominantly from zirconium. There is no reason why it couldn't be machined, although I expect it would be cast and pressed for most of the required shapes.

    We could assume it would look the same as the unibody construction, but with far less wasted metal in the machining process. Of course, it would be much stronger, harder and thinner (presumably lighter too) however it is unclear whether the material is economically feasible in the large quantities required to make an entire notebook case. Personally, I think a more likely candidate for its use is the iPhone 5.
     
  9. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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  10. AdamRock macrumors 6502a

    AdamRock

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    does anyone know if liquidmetal comes in other colors? or is it just black?
     
  11. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    No.

    It's a new alloy that when snap cooled gains very useful properties.
    (An alloy, if you don't know, is a mixture of different metals, like iron + carbon = steel, or copper + tin = bronze, copper + zinc = brass, etc)

    Liquid Metal (the alloy) can be injection moulded, but then has to be snap cooled.

    The alloy could also be cast into blocks, rolled then snap frozen to get the properties, and then hot pressed into shape, while retaining said awesome properties.

    It seems Liquid Metal is incredibly easy to work with, and you can do pretty much anything to it that you would do with normal aluminium or steel (minus the welding).
     
  12. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #12
    I've heard the iPhone 4 antenna is liquid metal.
     
  13. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    I doubt it. Unless you just want the strength and don't care about scratch resistance, in which case you could easily powder coat it, or electroplate it with a thin layer of a different metal.
     
  14. AdamRock macrumors 6502a

    AdamRock

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    #14
    wait, liquidmetal is scratch resistant?

    so lets say i get a key and scratch the back of a liquidmetal mbp, nothing would happen?
     
  15. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #15

    How is liquid metal formed into its final shape?

    If it has to be cooled so fast, how do you have time to form it into the shape of a MacBook Pro?
     
  16. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #16
    Liquid Metal is harder than strengthened steel, which is much harder than anything your key is likely to be made out of.

    Your key would not damage a sheet of liquid metal, unless you pushed hard enough to dent it.
     
  17. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    When it's hot they inject it into the shape of the macbook and then cool it rapidly.
     
  18. Merkava_4 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    What is the mold going to be made out of?

    How do they manufacture the mold?
     
  19. Erasmus macrumors 68030

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    #19
    As I said, it's an alloy, and a heat treatment process, probably involving liquid nitrogen, or even something colder.

    You have two choices.

    1) Form the alloy into the final shape (or close to it) by injection moulding, and/or pressing it into shape, and/or cutting, etc. Then, when it's finished, you heat it up (probably until it's red hot) and then snap cool it with liquid nitrogen/helium/whatever. This would only work if it can be cooled from a temperature below melting point and still get it's superpowers.

    2) Start with a sheet of the alloy, snap cool it into "Liquid Metal" at the beginning, and then press and cut it into shape (while it's cold, or maybe warm) just like you would cold working aluminium or a low carbon steel. Apparently Liquid Metal can be heated to a temperature where it can easily be bent and stretched without negating its superpowers. Hence, easy to work with.
     
  20. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #20
    I don't believe a lot of information is available to us proles, but you could try reading a wiki article on steel casting. I don't expect the process would be all that different. I would expect tungsten lined moulds.
     
  21. LikuidMetal macrumors regular

    LikuidMetal

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  22. ctyhntr macrumors 6502

    ctyhntr

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    #22
    I thought they were referring to the T1000. :)

    FWIW, iPhone SIM ejector tool is supposed to be made from liquid metal.

     

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  23. vipergts2207 macrumors 65816

    vipergts2207

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    #23
    My cruzer titanium flash drive is made of liquidmetal as well.
     
  24. gonnabuyamacbsh macrumors 6502

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    I really hope they upgrade to liquid metal. Aluminum is way too weak.
     
  25. Erasmus macrumors 68030

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    #25
    There are so many other types of metal Apple could go for that would be much stronger than Aluminium. One is Duralumin (Aluminium + 4% copper), however as Apple used to say the aluminium was "aircraft grade", they probably already use this. Stainless steel would be a scratch resistant choice, however would be much heavier. Carbon fibre would be even stronger, and lighter, but would scratch very easily unless it was coated in something.

    Aluminium (or duralumin) certainly provides the best strength + toughness + scratch resistance to weight and cost ratio of pretty much any metal (ie it's an all-rounder), which is why it's been used so long in Apple computers and aircraft.

    As LiquidMetal is 50% zirconium, which is moderately expensive, I'm not sure as to the economic realism of using it to build an entire notebook case.
     

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