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"Hasta la Vista, Titanium;" LiquidMetal is tougher

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
An <a href="http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,43538,FF.html" target="_blank">article in Business 2.0</a> talks about this interesting amorphous metal, which is extremely tough, but which can be cast into final forms as demanding as surgical scalpels.

It's a bit pricey right now, but they're working on that. I can definitely see Apple jumping on this stuff as soon as it becomes practicable: It can be molded like plastic when hot, it's incredibly tough, and (most importantly ) it's black.

I can see this stuff wrapped around a PowerBook pretty easily. It would give Apple a lot of options, and they like options.
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post #2 of 27
Interesting link, Amorph, perhaps one day i will use this new surgical blade. Concerning the powerbook , this stuff is quite expansive for the moment.
post #3 of 27
They had better fix the heat probs with the Tibook as well, or we will all have powerbooks in the shape of our laps. but very interesting none the less.
post #4 of 27
Here's a <a href="http://www.liquidmetalgolf.com/index/index.cfm" target="_blank">link</a>to the Liquid Metal site. Very interesting stuff. This would make one hell of a sturdy PowerBook. No Flex!
post #5 of 27
They made some golf clubs out of this a few years ago.

Nobody bought them, they were twice as expensive as titanium clubs, and the benefits weren't that pronounced...
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
It would also give Apple the ability to bring curves back: The TiBook is squared off because that way they only have to cut and stamp titanium sheets, which is much cheaper than casting and machining titanium.

Curved surfaces are also stronger than flat surfaces, all else being equal, so there is a pragmatic reason for the "voluptuous" designs of the Wallstreet -&gt; Lombard models as well as an aesthetic one.

The main thing is that the price has to come down. It currently appears to be as expensive as cast titanium, so the hoped-for breakthroughs mentioned in the article will have to materialize. The other potential drawback is that this stuff is too smooth to take paint! I suppose they could work around that, but until then it would tend to dictate their products' color schemes.

I wonder if it can be anodized.

[ 10-25-2002: Message edited by: Amorph ]</p>
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post #7 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Jonathan:
<strong>They made some golf clubs out of this a few years ago.

Nobody bought them, they were twice as expensive as titanium clubs, and the benefits weren't that pronounced...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Being an avid golfer, I've been following Liquid Metal...

The clubs were great, and the material is real deal. However, nobody bought the clubs, because it takes more than a good club to be successful in the golf club industry. Small companies like Liquid Metal are having a tough time competing against the huge advertising budgets of companies like Callaway and Taylor Made. In the end, Liquid Metal realized their pockets weren't deep enough to compete, and they changed their business model. Now, they just license the technology to other companies.
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post #8 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Amorph:
<strong>An <a href="http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,43538,FF.html" target="_blank">article in Business 2.0</a> talks about this interesting amorphous metal, which is extremely tough, but which can be cast into final forms as demanding as surgical scalpels.

It's a bit pricey right now, but they're working on that. I can definitely see Apple jumping on this stuff as soon as it becomes practicable: It can be molded like plastic when hot, it's incredibly tough, and (most importantly ) it's black.

I can see this stuff wrapped around a PowerBook pretty easily. It would give Apple a lot of options, and they like options.</strong><hr></blockquote>


The article quotes a price of $12 - $15 per pound for the liquid metal, versus $6 - $15 per pound for titanium. The raw material cost difference would (worst case) probably be less than $10 total - probably closer to $1. The TiBook isn't pure titanium, remember. It's probably got less than a pound of Ti total. The lowered manufacturing costs when using the liquid metal would probably offset some of the difference, too. A significant selling point for the TiBook is the exoticness (?) of the titanium case. The slightly increased cost would be more than offset by the exoticity (??) of this stuff. I'd like to see Apple start using this stuff tomorrow!
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #9 of 27
FYI:
I saw one of the first demonstrations of this Liquid Metal in LA. They bounced a steel ball bearing through a tube onto plates of copper, steel, titanium, and liquid Metal. Copper took a few seconds to stop bouncing, steel took around 20 seconds, titanium took about a minute, and throughout the demonstrator's 15 minute speech, the little ball was bouncing on it's plate of Liquid Metal. They told me the metal was not stronger that steel or titanium, but that it returned the knetic energy much more efficiantly.

EDIT: Whoa! OMG! Look at that, there is the demonstration I talked about on the Liquid Metal web site!

[ 10-25-2002: Message edited by: Ebby ]</p>
horrid misuse of cool technology
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horrid misuse of cool technology
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post #10 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Amorph:
<strong>Curved surfaces are also stronger than flat surfaces, all else being equal, so there is a pragmatic reason for the "voluptuous" designs of the Wallstreet -&gt; Lombard models as well as an aesthetic one.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Pismos weren't voluptuous?! :confused: <img src="graemlins/embarrassed.gif" border="0" alt="[Embarrassed]" />
post #11 of 27
If the liquid metal is anything like the cyborg in terminator 2, I want i want!!

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post #12 of 27
wouldn't it be funny seeing a powerbook bounce down the stairs :eek: of an airport in front of shocked onlookers with nothing wrong when picked up. <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" />
post #13 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by stunned:
<strong>If the liquid metal is anything like the cyborg in terminator 2, I want i want!!

</strong><hr></blockquote>

Eh, you beat me too it.

Have you seen this PowerBook?
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post #14 of 27
actually there is technology being developed that is like the terminator technology...I think its called electro polymers or something....but anyway...it basically has the ability to morph into different forms which are induced by electronic pulses...one example that has been given is planes whose wings will change shape inflight to adjust to how fast its going and to wind conditions...and then there is a technology that this guy on techtv was discussing that sounds even closer to the terminator thing where products form similar to how blood cells come together...anyway...we'll probably be superceded by robots/and anroids before this comes to fruition...and when that happens...will make great pets....will make great pets...will make great pets...will make great peeeetttss

<img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
post #15 of 27
This stuff could lead to a resurgence in personal body armor - breastplates, helmets, etc.

The perfect accessory for the post-Kevlar generation!
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post #16 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Capt. Obvious:
<strong>This stuff could lead to a resurgence in personal body armor - breastplates, helmets, etc.

The perfect accessory for the post-Kevlar generation!</strong><hr></blockquote>

Hehe. That would be great! When someone shoots at you, stand ground and the bullet will bounce back to the shooter...

Something for the cast of the new Superman movie ? <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />

.:BoeManE:.
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post #17 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Amorph:
<strong>An <a href="http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,43538,FF.html" target="_blank">article in Business 2.0</a> talks about this interesting amorphous metal, which is extremely tough, but which can be cast into final forms as demanding as surgical scalpels.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, there are a few problems with it...

It's main property is that it doesn't form large crystals. One downside to that is that non-crystalline structures fail in bad ways. One of the problems that faced the LiquidMetal clubs is that if you strike a rock the clubface can shatter - like a grenade into lots of little sharp bits of schrapnel.

A lot of the qualities above are true of glass. It's easily cast, can be sharp for scalpels, and is tough - glass is very difficult to scratch. But it doesn't respond well to stress because it doesn't crystallize in a manner that gives it strength. Liquidmetal isn't as bad as that, but dropping that TiBook on a tile floor doesn't run the risk of personal injury.

Honestly, I don't see Apple using it.
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post #18 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by BoeManE:
<strong>

Hehe. That would be great! When someone shoots at you, stand ground and the bullet will bounce back to the shooter... </strong><hr></blockquote>

Actually, the bullet will cause it to shatter like the frozen T1000 in T2. You really want something like a fabric that will stretch slightly and safely absorb the energy of the bullet.
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post #19 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by johnsonwax:
<strong>

Well, there are a few problems with it...

It's main property is that it doesn't form large crystals. One downside to that is that non-crystalline structures fail in bad ways. One of the problems that faced the LiquidMetal clubs is that if you strike a rock the clubface can shatter - like a grenade into lots of little sharp bits of schrapnel.

A lot of the qualities above are true of glass. It's easily cast, can be sharp for scalpels, and is tough - glass is very difficult to scratch. But it doesn't respond well to stress because it doesn't crystallize in a manner that gives it strength. Liquidmetal isn't as bad as that, but dropping that TiBook on a tile floor doesn't run the risk of personal injury.

Honestly, I don't see Apple using it.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I don't really believe that dropping a LiquidMetal PowerBook onto the floor would have the same impact velocity as a LiquidMetal golf club...

Maybe if you dropped it from 10 stories up.

post #20 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Spart:
<strong>

I don't really believe that dropping a LiquidMetal PowerBook onto the floor would have the same impact velocity as a LiquidMetal golf club...

Maybe if you dropped it from 10 stories up.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

It doesn't need to have the same velocity - it needs to generate the same stress on the metal. A childs wooden block is damn hard to break in half, but I can break a 4' 2x2 without any assistance.

A TiBook frame would consist of long, thin pieces of metal compared to a solid lump for the clubhead. Liquidmetal doesn't flex like aluminum or titanium does - it fractures. That's part of why it bounces so well - the metal doesn't deform and absorb the energy transferred to it (that's not the only reason why it bounces well, but it's part of it.) You drop that TiBook on it's corner from 5' on a tile floor, and I'd say you have a reasonable chance of fracturing it.

The same is true of glass. Drop a glass marble from even 15 feet to a concrete floor and it'll likely bounce and not shatter. Drop a picture frame from 2 feet to a floating wood floor and it's probably a gonner.
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post #21 of 27
Perhaps the technical term you want is "brittleness"? I'm still at a loss, though. After looking over the tech material at the site, it does not strike me that excessive brittleness should be a problem for this material (but if the real life premises aren't supporting this...).

Manufacturability alone should make it a very desireable material for any product that needs a metal case (assuming this brittleness issue isn't really an issue). The biggest obstacle (from what I can tell) seems to rest plainly on the bulk material cost. Titanium is a pretty damn expensive material to use to make something, and if this "liquid metal" is n times more expensive than that, that is a big problem for mass market success. It's the cost-no-object applications where this will find acceptance and even then only if absolutely no other material will do (aka military applications). That's a hard position to be in, let alone make money in.

...But enough of the negativity. Myself, I'm kind of intrigued by this development and its potential applications. I can't believe it has been around as long as it has, and I never knew anything about it (maybe that suggests a marketing penetration issue?).

[ 10-30-2002: Message edited by: Randycat99 ]</p>
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post #22 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Randycat99:
<strong>Perhaps the technical term you want is "brittleness"? (snip)

...But enough of the negativity. Myself, I'm kind of intrigued by this development and its potential applications. I can't believe it has been around as long as it has, and I never knew anything about it (maybe that suggests a marketing penetration issue?).</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, brittleness isn't something they are inclined to advertise and that trait was passed onto me by a Caltech materials engineer that had worked with the stuff.

Don't get me wrong - it's cool stuff, but it's not without its flaws.

All materials developments have trouble with market penetration - particularly when they come from outside of a core industry. Materials failures contribute to a substantial number of engineering disasters (WTC, most airline disasters, Challenger, Titanic, and so on) so companies generally don't leap on innovative new materials without extensive testing.
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post #23 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by johnsonwax:
<strong>

It doesn't need to have the same velocity - it needs to generate the same stress on the metal. A childs wooden block is damn hard to break in half, but I can break a 4' 2x2 without any assistance.

A TiBook frame would consist of long, thin pieces of metal compared to a solid lump for the clubhead. Liquidmetal doesn't flex like aluminum or titanium does - it fractures. That's part of why it bounces so well - the metal doesn't deform and absorb the energy transferred to it (that's not the only reason why it bounces well, but it's part of it.) You drop that TiBook on it's corner from 5' on a tile floor, and I'd say you have a reasonable chance of fracturing it.

The same is true of glass. Drop a glass marble from even 15 feet to a concrete floor and it'll likely bounce and not shatter. Drop a picture frame from 2 feet to a floating wood floor and it's probably a gonner.</strong><hr></blockquote>

just a quick note: golf clubs are not solid lumps they are thin walled, and hollow, so they too have thin pieces.

If you read the website or watch the info like true geek then it goes on about how it is not brittle, and it is very elastic.

Maybe the tibook would just bounce right back to you. <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />

I think the properties of this stuff will make it common place when they get the process down and make it cheap.
post #24 of 27
All of the detractors that spesk on how brittle it must be.


Stronger, Lighter, Shapelier
LiquidMetal has some distinct advantages over
stainless steel and titanium.

Yield strength (1,000 lbs./sq. in.)

Stress level at which damage occurs.
Titanium 115
Stainless Steel 126
LiquidMetal 275

Strength-to-weight ratio
Higher is better.
Titanium 26
Stainless Steel 16
LiquidMetal 45

Elasticity Extent a material can be bent without damage.
Titanium 0.69%
Stainless Steel 0.44%
LiquidMetal 2.0%

Hardness The "Vickers" test -- higher is better.
Titanium 340
Stainless Steel 325
LiquidMetal 550

If they are right on these it seems that all your drawbacks are totally unfounded, except price.

Very cool stuff.
NoahJ
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NoahJ
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post #25 of 27
We are Borg. (In reference to the armour plates...)
post #26 of 27
post #27 of 27
Hmm, the article says about liquidmetal that "It looks more like coal and hefts like gold"
Now, if it is very hefty like the article reports, I wonder if a liquidmetal case would be heavier than a plastic case in a laptop..
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