Apple to use Liquidmetal in a "breakthrough product"

Liquidmetal is a commercial name for a set of space age alloys, and has become prominent in the recent past owing to Apple Inc.'s decision to license it for use in its products such as iPhones.


Liqudmetal was promoted and developed by Liquidmetal Technologies, and a Caltech research team, respectively. It has a number of characteristics that make it highly desirable for commercial use, such as high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and incredible resistance to wear and tear. It gets its name from the fact that it can be heat formed and molded, a la thermoplastics like nylon. But what makes it a complete package in the eyes of a firm like Apple is that it looks great, and would be at home with the Cupertino's companies lofty design ideals.

" At first look, it looks like a typical metal, more like stainless steel. It's silvery grey metallic color has a bit different tone and hue than stainless steel. Depending on the specific alloy formulation, its hue may vary slightly. Its surface can be prepared in various cosmetic finishes, such as bright shiny, satin or brush metallic. It feels like a solid strong metal like stainless steel and comes a bit warmer to hand when touching compared to other metals. ....(every) material has its own advantage and disadvantages. Plastics are low cost to manufacture into complex shapes but not strong enough. Metals are strong but difficult to produce into complex shapes. And glass feels and looks beautiful but is highly fragile. Liquidmetal can combine these advantages and remedy some of these shortcomings.first application was SIM card ejector pin, which I figured out after buying my iPhone 3G. I am not aware of any other application Apple has used Liquidmetal so far. Given the size of MacBook and scale of Apple products, I think it's unlikely that Liquidmetal casing will be used in MacBooks in the near term. It's more likely in the form of small component such as a hinge or bracket. A MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement. " - Atakan Peker, one of the inventors of Liquidmetal.

Apple acquired perpetual and exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal in consumer electronics in 2010, but so far, little has been heard about when it plans to incorporate the new material in its products. However, going by recent rumors, the upcoming iPhone 5 will has a case made entirely of Liquidmetal, as opposed to the usual Alumino-silicate glass compound it had used in the iPhone 4 and 4S. As Dr Peker said in the lines quoted above, only the SIM card ejector pin in iPhones has been made of the alloy so far. Large scale production, especially for computers such as the Macbook, seems to be years away from getting developed. However, if it does come into use for its iPhones, Apple would conclusively remove one of the chief grouses that people have against them - their tendency to shatter upon physical shocks.


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