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Apple patent hints at possibility of Liquidmetal iPhone and iPad

By Brian 1739 days ago Comments (1)

Categories: News

http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/17/apple-liquidmetal-patent/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget

For all its tough chemical properties and unusual capacity for intricate molding,Liquidmetal apparently still can't be turned into anything much bigger than Apple's SIM ejector tool or, perhaps, the chess pieces rendered above (for illustrative purposes only!). Attempts to use so-called "metallic glass" to manufacture larger objects, like the bodies of phones or tablets, have been hampered by difficulties in creating large sheets of controllable thickness, because stretching and other traditional techniques just cause the stuff to break. However, a patent recently awarded to Crucible Intellectual Property (the shell company representing the exclusive licensing tie-up between Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies) suggests some progress has been made towards removing this barrier.

Comments

  • Brian 1559 days ago

    http://www.macrumors.com/2014/01/13/liquidmetal-buttons-sensors-screws/

     

    Apple Interested in Liquidmetal Alloys for Home Buttons, Touch Sensors, and Tamper-Resistant Screws

    Monday January 13, 2014 9:13 am PST by Eric Slivka

    Back in 2010, Apple signed an exclusive agreement with Caltech spinoff Liquidmetal Technologies, providing Apple with the rights to use Liquidmetal's advanced metal alloys for consumer electronics purposes. Liquidmetal's amorphous metal alloys or bulk metallic glasses posses a number of characteristic properties such as high strength and corrosion resistance while remaining relatively light and able to be cast into a variety of forms. 

    Apple quietly tested Liquidmetal's alloys in the SIM card eject tool for the iPhone 3G, but the materials have otherwise not been confirmed to have appeared in any other Apple products, as one of alloys' inventors noted in 2012 that their use as major design materials was still several years in the future. 

    Evidence of Apple's continued interest with Liquidmetal alloys has surfaced a number of times over the past several years, including in a granted patent from July covering a process for mass producing thin sheets of the Liquidmetal alloys and a series of technical patent applications published in November describing methods of working with the alloys to create products. 

    A number of patent applications addressing additional innovations with Liquidmetal alloys have been published since that time, including a batch of 17 applications published just this past Thursday. Many of these applications are not yet listed as being assigned to Apple, but the inventors listed on the patents are Apple employees who have routinely been associated with the company's work on Liquidmetal alloys in the past. 

    One of these patent applications proposes using Liquidmetal alloys in pressure sensorssuch as those found in buttons and switches on mobile devices, offering greater durability under repeated use. Figures accompanying the patent application closely resemble the iconic home button found on Apple's iOS devices.