Apple obtains exclusive rights to custom, super-durable metal alloy

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion, AppleInsider has learned.



The metal alloys owned by Liquidmetal Technologies were developed by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, and their amorphous, non-crystalline structure makes them harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum.



Introduced for commercial applications in 2003 through the Delaware-based Liquidmetal corporation, the product has been used to create technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, has been found in medical equipment, and is even used to create sporting goods like tennis raquets and golf clubs.



In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Liquidmetal Technologies indicated that it had granted all of its intellectual property assets to Apple. According to the terms of the deal, Apple was awarded "a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercial such intellectual property in the field of electronic products in exchange for a license fee."



Though the licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics, Liquidmetal is still allowed to license its products to other companies for any use outside of markets where Apple competes, meaning its deals with defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers are likely to remain intact.



The agreement was made on Aug. 5, and was revealed to the SEC on Monday. It was signed by Larry Buffington, president and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies.







The company's official website gives examples of where Liquidmetal's products were used in portable electronics in the past. It touts that Liquidmetal alloys are 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel found in portable electronic devices. The technology is said to allow for thinner, smaller design while offering greater protection for internal components, and giving users a scratch and corrosion resistant exterior.



"As the demand for product 'miniaturization' continues in the electronic casings industry, Liquidmetal alloys enable smaller, thinner and more durable designs," the company's website reads. "Current casings technology is pushed to the limit in supporting these new designs and specifications, especially requirements for larger LCD screens, thinner wall sections and pure metallic surface finishes for products such as mobile phones, PDA's and cameras."







Past devices where Liquidmetal's technology was utilized include the Nokia Vertu smartphone, Sandisk Sansa media player, and Sandisk U3 Smart thumb drives. The product was also used to create strong hinge components for devices like flip smartphones.







Apple's interest in a company like Liquidmetal is no surprise, given its constant desire to create smaller and thinner devices. Apple has also employed a unibody design in its portable computers, beginning in early 2008 with the MacBook Air.



The precision unibody enclosures are milled from a single extruded block of aluminum, allowing devices like the MacBook Pro to become thinner while maintaining a rigid, sturdy frame. Previously, the frames of Apple's notebooks were made from multiple parts. Now, raw aluminum is carved out using CNC, or "computer numerical control" machines.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 126
    kyle76kyle76 Posts: 54member
    Is this the same substance used to make the T-1000 Terminator?
  • Reply 2 of 126
    shadashshadash Posts: 470member
    Here is a quote from the DigiTimes rumor that now sticks out:



    "The CDMA iPhone's back plate will be forged from metal materials."



    Curiouser and curiouser.
  • Reply 3 of 126
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,858member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kyle76 View Post


    Is this the same substance used to make the T-1000 Terminator?



    Or is it adamantium?
  • Reply 4 of 126
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I've dealt with Liquidmetal alloys in the past. Great stuff.
  • Reply 5 of 126
    If you combine Zr-alloy with Corning Gorilla Glass do you get ?Transparent aluminum?? (Anyone still remember Star Trek?)
  • Reply 6 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kyle76 View Post


    Is this the same substance used to make the T-1000 Terminator?



    No. The T-1000 and T-X both used mimetic poly-alloy. The T-X used this for its outside coating since it had an internal structure.
  • Reply 7 of 126
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    i just walked into a hard sci fi movie

    wow





    go apple



    go liquid metal









    9
  • Reply 8 of 126
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    Or is it adamantium?



    No, its Unobtanium.
  • Reply 9 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GQB View Post


    No, its Unobtanium.



    From "The Core"! Cheesy movie but I have to admit it wasn't too bad. I have weakness for end-of-the-world movies.
  • Reply 10 of 126
    Papa likey.



    Now if they can secure a battery tech that holds a superior charge to the current standards and bendable glass that is scratch proof and allows integration of LCD components then that would be what's up. OMG
  • Reply 11 of 126
    sendmesendme Posts: 567member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion, AppleInsider has learned.





    Great move for Apple that they have entered into an exclusive deal. That way those Android phones can never copy them.



    Apple needs more "Apple-Only" stuff.
  • Reply 12 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SendMe View Post


    Great move for Apple that they have entered into an exclusive deal. That way those Android phones can never copy them.



    Apple needs more "Apple-Only" stuff.



    Not sure this would have anything to do with the iPhone. I see this as more related to MBP cases. iPhone seems to be going in a different direction using more glass then metal.
  • Reply 13 of 126
    str1f3str1f3 Posts: 573member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SendMe View Post


    Great move for Apple that they have entered into an exclusive deal. That way those Android phones can never copy them.



    Apple needs more "Apple-Only" stuff.



    Android will always lose when it comes to hardware. HTC & others are only interesting in offering things they can sell as features, even if they don't work properly for as little cost as possible. They're not interested in making the best product possible.



    It is interesting hearing this story along with the Digitimes article today of a metal rear case to the Verizon iPhone.
  • Reply 14 of 126
    jb510jb510 Posts: 124member
    So how is this likely to play out in Apple's product lines?



    Will this quickly or slowly replace all the aluminum or steel components? Can they mill this stuff like aluminum for unibody cases? What is the material cost in comparison to aluminum?



    This posting reads way to much like a press release and too little like journalism.
  • Reply 15 of 126
    Unibody, Liquidmetal iPod Touch



    Since the iPod Touch doesn't need a cellular antenna and Apple like to keep them uberthin...
  • Reply 16 of 126
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    I think this is just an intermediate solution. While adamantium would be a decent choice, I'm holding out for mirthil. Powered by dilithium crystals of course.
  • Reply 17 of 126
    Finnally! My future mac's will be bullet proof!



    Well of course this is a huge move. In times to come. we will see ultra light wight Apple hardware.. Can't wait to see what's coming. I didn't even know that something so much better than titanium exists. Well done Apple.
  • Reply 18 of 126
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member
    Hopefully it will be more scratch resistant than my 15" Core i7 MBP.......
  • Reply 20 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post


    Android will always lose when it comes to hardware. HTC & others are only interesting in offering things they can sell as features, even if they don't work properly for as little cost as possible. They're not interested in making the best product possible.



    It is interesting hearing this story along with the Digitimes article today of a metal rear case to the Verizon iPhone.



    Well of course the iPhone needs a lot of glass because of the display. But the frame (or do I have to say the antenna) are still replaceable. And as for the back cover I can imagine, thet apple is not really fixed to be using glass. New materials >> new options >> new design. We will see in 1 - 2 year I guess.
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