Rumor: Apple ordering parts for new product made of carbon fiber

13

Comments

  • Reply 41 of 66
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    I hope not, it's currently ridiculously expensive.  Even if they've found a way to scale the manufacturing, the cost would likely still be a problem.  Pure silver or gold would actually be cheaper right now from what I've read.  

    I wish people would stop saying that. It's just not true.

    Some Liquidmetal alloys are based on platinum and some are based on much less expensive materials. The most common alloy is under $15 per pound:
    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/2536/hasta-la-vista-titanium-liquidmetal-is-tougher
    (The original article link is broken, but someone in this thread states:
    "The article quotes a price of $12 - $15 per pound for the liquid metal, versus $6 - $15 per pound for titanium."

    That is consistent with what we know. They make golf clubs and reasonably priced tennis rackets (under $60) from this stuff (although the tennis racket only has small pieces of LM). If they're making $60 tennis rackets using LM, there's no reason a $600 phone couldn't use it.

    Let's explore. Let's say that the iPhone's backplate has 1 ounce of aluminum and you can replace that with double the weight of LM. So you've got $2 worth of LM in your iPhone. WORST CASE, your manufacturing cost goes up by 1%. However, Liquidmetal products are manufactured by injection molding rather than machining so there will be savings on machining cost. That would reduce (and maybe even eliminate) the cost differential. And it's certainly nothing like the cost of silver or gold (not to mention the fact that both of those metals are too soft to be the backplate for a phone unless you alloy them very heavily).

    I strongly suspect that the reason it hasn't appeared in an iPhone yet is that Apple is still working out the manufacturing issues involved in making millions of pieces from this material. From talking with LM's engineers for a different project, creating a high volume manufacturing process is tricky and there are still some bugs to be resolved. The SIM ejector tools that Apple included in previous iPhones was presumably an experiment to get some experience working with the metal. There was no reason other than that.
  • Reply 42 of 66


    I wonder how they would handle the recycling issue. Carbon fiber isn't particularly recyclable currently. 

  • Reply 43 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by go4d1 View Post


    First bikes were steel, then titanium, then aluminum - Not they're all carbon fiber.   - A carbon fiber iPhone will look great mounted on my Colnago!





    Not counting the wheels, the first bikes were largely made of wood. Hollow steel tubes came next and still dominate. Aluminum, titanium and composite are mostly used in high end bikes. Bikes are most definitely not ALL carbon fiber. Don't make stuff up please.

  • Reply 44 of 66
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,517member
    I love carbon fiber, it can be shiny and gives an exclusive look and feel to any product that uses it. Oddly enough, I think that it's a material that is un-apple, precisely because it's very ostensible, but who knows what they might come up with. As the article precises, I find that using it for small parts would be more likely.
  • Reply 45 of 66
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member


    Seems like you've done some good research here.  In my defence, the "extremely high cost" was one of the main things that was brought up in every article about it when Apple bought the rights to the material.  


     


    Also, it's the "scaling up to manufacture" and the fact that new manufacturing processes have to be developed, that would be the source of the high cost, no?  So while the material itself is not necessarily cost prohibitive in bulk and on paper, it's use in large scale manufacturing would likely be. 


     


    Personally, I would love to see an iPhone with an organic shaped back made of liquid metal with zirconia crystal inlays for the radio windows.  I just get tired of people always saying "why don't they just use liquid metal" and in the same breath attributing properties to it that it doesn't actually have as if it were some magical panacea.  Thus my (perhaps overly) critical (and poorly researched) remarks. 

  • Reply 46 of 66
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Seems like you've done some good research here.  In my defence, the "extremely high cost" was one of the main things that was brought up in every article about it when Apple bought the rights to the material.  

    Also, it's the "scaling up to manufacture" and the fact that new manufacturing processes have to be developed, that would be the source of the high cost, no?  So while the material itself is not necessarily cost prohibitive in bulk and on paper, it's use in large scale manufacturing would likely be. 

    Exactly the opposite. For a high volume product, you have significant setup costs, but those costs become insignificant at higher volumes. It's the material cost (and the machine cost required for each piece in the traditional process) that drives the cost structure. If one can economically make a few thousand $60 tennis rackets using the product, it is undoubtedly economical to make millions of $600 phones using the product once the technical issues are resolved.
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Personally, I would love to see an iPhone with an organic shaped back made of liquid metal with zirconia crystal inlays for the radio windows.  I just get tired of people always saying "why don't they just use liquid metal" and in the same breath attributing properties to it that it doesn't actually have as if it were some magical panacea.  Thus my (perhaps overly) critical (and poorly researched) remarks. 

    That is reasonable - and inserting a zirconia window would not be difficult based on my understanding of the process.

    However, in their defense, I have not been able to get a clear answer as to whether LM alloys are transparent to radio waves or not. There was some speculation early on that they might be transparent, although I've never seen that confirmed by anyone who really knows. My own guess is that the low cost LM alloys (at least) are not likely to be transparent to radio waves so your suggestion to insert a ceramic window will probably be necessary.
  • Reply 47 of 66
    it is for the iphone 7
  • Reply 48 of 66
    As someone else says, 15" MacBook Air, rumoured iPad 10" upgrade ('3' is thicker than 2) or even a transportable iMac 21" with a touch screen display that can be lifted from a dock and placed anywhere in the room - like a giant iPad but running OS X.
    (Remember the rumours of a lean back iMac with a touch screen?)

    Carbon fibre would make it lighter so easier to carry around the house, studio or room.
  • Reply 49 of 66
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

    ...

    However, in their defense, I have not been able to get a clear answer as to whether LM alloys are transparent to radio waves or not. There was some speculation early on that they might be transparent, although I've never seen that confirmed by anyone who really knows. My own guess is that the low cost LM alloys (at least) are not likely to be transparent to radio waves so your suggestion to insert a ceramic window will probably be necessary.


     


    Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

  • Reply 50 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by allenbf View Post


    Question, how will a carbon fiber iPad/iPhone/iPod case feel??  Or even a Macbook?


     


    I quite like the aluminum shells, it feels quality.  I really hope Apple doesn't do this, it'll feel like an Android phone.



     


    Perhaps the "quality" feel you enjoy is the rigidity of the finished device compared to an HP laptop that feels all wonky.

  • Reply 51 of 66


    As long as it's rectangular in shape with curved edges, that's all that matters

  • Reply 52 of 66
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

    Half right. I doubt that it's radio transparent - which is exactly what I said earlier.

    The rest is wrong. It's not about a few trace elements and it has nothing to do with the cooling process. Liquidmetal remains liquidmetal regardless of the cooling process used.

    Ordinary metals are crystalline. Metal atoms solidify into a crystalline lattice. The crystalline latice creates certain undesirable characteristics and the grain boundaries between crystal particles create more problems. Liquidmetal works by forming an alloy of different metals where the different metals (typically three different ones, IIRC) have atom sizes that are incompatible with crystal formation. That is, they atoms are different enough in size that there is no way for a uniform crystal lattice to form no matter what you do or how you cool it. Instead, as the metals cool and solidify, the metal atoms are distributed randomly and form a non-crystalline glass.
  • Reply 53 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,238member
    jragosta wrote: »
    I wish people would stop saying that. It's just not true.
    Some Liquidmetal alloys are based on platinum and some are based on much less expensive materials. The most common alloy is under $15 per pound:
    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/2536/hasta-la-vista-titanium-liquidmetal-is-tougher
    (The original article link is broken, but someone in this thread states:
    "The article quotes a price of $12 - $15 per pound for the liquid metal, versus $6 - $15 per pound for titanium."
    That is consistent with what we know. They make golf clubs and reasonably priced tennis rackets (under $60) from this stuff (although the tennis racket only has small pieces of LM). If they're making $60 tennis rackets using LM, there's no reason a $600 phone couldn't use it.
    Let's explore. Let's say that the iPhone's backplate has 1 ounce of aluminum and you can replace that with double the weight of LM. So you've got $2 worth of LM in your iPhone. WORST CASE, your manufacturing cost goes up by 1%. However, Liquidmetal products are manufactured by injection molding rather than machining so there will be savings on machining cost. That would reduce (and maybe even eliminate) the cost differential. And it's certainly nothing like the cost of silver or gold (not to mention the fact that both of those metals are too soft to be the backplate for a phone unless you alloy them very heavily).
    I strongly suspect that the reason it hasn't appeared in an iPhone yet is that Apple is still working out the manufacturing issues involved in making millions of pieces from this material. From talking with LM's engineers for a different project, creating a high volume manufacturing process is tricky and there are still some bugs to be resolved. The SIM ejector tools that Apple included in previous iPhones was presumably an experiment to get some experience working with the metal. There was no reason other than that.

    Everything I've ever read about this describes it as an expensive alloy. It isn't just the materials, which ARE expensive, but also the process of making it. That is, making the alloy itself.

    Golf clubs have very simple parts made of this, basically just a plate.

    If it were so cheap and simple to use, then why hasn't Apple used it yet? After all, they haven't taken those licenses out for no reason. There was a phone that did use it for a couple of cover parts. But it didn't go well as a product.
  • Reply 54 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,238member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

    It's not "just ordinary metal", whatever that is, with "traces" of other metals. The other metals, are significant. That's like saying that SS is ordinary metal with traces of chromium and nickel.

    There are various LM alloys, all are expensive when compared to most anything else.
  • Reply 55 of 66
    Apple II wrote: »
    I'd like a retractable, carbon fiber stick to be built into my next iPad. Whenever necessary, I could take it out and hit Fandroids upside the head with it. It could also be used to fend off robbers on the subway who have a hard on for Apple devices nowadays.
    I think a better solution would be an improved battery to go along with retractable stun gun contacts. Beating someone into submission is too time consuming, and besides, it's more fun to watch them writhe around on the ground instead.
  • Reply 56 of 66
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post





    Less rigid, unless Apple makes the products thicker, with more curve in the shells.




    I'm curious what makes you say this. Various carbon fiber processes are used for tennis rackets, expensive bike frames, and most tripod leg sets in the $600+ range aside from those aimed at video (still camera tripods, those for binoculars or telescopes, etc). In the latter carbon fiber is favored for its lack of  its rigidity as it allows for thinner, lighter tubes, and its lack of resonance issues compared to aluminum.

  • Reply 57 of 66
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    melgross wrote: »
    Everything I've ever read about this describes it as an expensive alloy. It isn't just the materials, which ARE expensive, but also the process of making it. That is, making the alloy itself.
    Golf clubs have very simple parts made of this, basically just a plate.
    If it were so cheap and simple to use, then why hasn't Apple used it yet? After all, they haven't taken those licenses out for no reason. There was a phone that did use it for a couple of cover parts. But it didn't go well as a product.

    Instead of simply stating "everything I've ever read", why not provide some evidence?

    I gave you a link which shows the price. I have also talked with them about a project I was working on. I have also shown $60 tennis rackets that include liquidmetal.

    So why is it that you think "everything I've ever heard" (with no evidence or numbers) overrules that evidence?
  • Reply 58 of 66
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    melgross wrote: »
    It's not "just ordinary metal", whatever that is, with "traces" of other metals. The other metals, are significant. That's like saying that SS is ordinary metal with traces of chromium and nickel.
    There are various LM alloys, all are expensive when compared to most anything else.

    And for the 100th time, that's not true. Some of the LM alloys are under $15 per pound - which puts them in the range of Titanium and some grades of stainless steel.

    LM has been accepted slowly because design of the molds is very tricky and time consuming. Not because of the cost of the material.
  • Reply 59 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,238member
    hmm wrote: »

    I'm curious what makes you say this. Various carbon fiber processes are used for tennis rackets, expensive bike frames, and most tripod leg sets in the $600+ range aside from those aimed at video (still camera tripods, those for binoculars or telescopes, etc). In the latter carbon fiber is favored for its lack of  its rigidity as it allows for thinner, lighter tubes, and its lack of resonance issues compared to aluminum.

    Different materials for different purposes. Sometimes movement is better. A friend of mine has two bikes, one is carbon fiber and the other is magnesium, I think. The carbon fiber bike has more give. When riding over rocks or roots, as they do all the time, the ride is softer.

    I have the very first carbon fiber tennis racquet. This goes way back, and was very expensive. Compared to wood racquets, it was much stiffer. Not as stiff as metal racquets that came later.

    My metal tripods are much stiffer than my carbon fiber one. When I extend the legs properly, I can barely get movement when pushing down on the head of the aluminum models, but the carbon fiber model moves appreciably. These are Gitzo's, not cheap models.
  • Reply 60 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,238member
    jragosta wrote: »
    Instead of simply stating "everything I've ever read", why not provide some evidence?
    I gave you a link which shows the price. I have also talked with them about a project I was working on. I have also shown $60 tennis rackets that include liquidmetal.
    So why is it that you think "everything I've ever heard" (with no evidence or numbers) overrules that evidence?

    I don't know what project you say you're working with them on. I've seen a couple of those racquets. I'm not sure what the purpose of the metal is for there, as it just looks to be a very thin coating in a coup,e of areas.

    I don't see that as being much evidence. Actually, finding out much anything about this material isn't easy. Most of the links I've had over the years are 404‘d out.
Sign In or Register to comment.