Apple this week was granted US Patent No. 9,552,022, “Housing components for electronic devices.”

Apple’s abstract states, “Electronic devices are provided with a protective housing having one or more housing components. A housing component can be formed from a single sheet of material to appear as if the housing component had been formed from a hollowed out solid block of material. The sheet of material may be deep drawn, forged, and machined to form the housing component. One or more holes may be formed through a portion of the housing component to provide an I/O interface.”

The patent was filed of June 27, 2014 and granted on January 24, 2017.

Apple, patent description reads, in part: “In one embodiment, the first housing component may be formed via a first process and the second housing component may be formed via a second process. The processes may be similar or they may be different. For example, the first housing component may be formed via various forming techniques, such as drawing, an extrusion process, machining, forging, and bending, while the second housing component may be formed via different processes, such as injection molding, punching, and the like. It should be appreciated that injection molding is not limited to only plastic material and may be applied to other materials, such as metals. Liquid Metal is one example of a metal material that can be injected molded.”

Full patent via the USPTO here.

MacDailyNews Take: The timeframe would be right for Apple to begin using Liquidmetal in earnest.

I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million — and three to five years — to mature the technology before it can used in large scale. — Dr. Atakan Peker, one of the Caltech researchers who invented Liquidmetal, May 2012

Evidence suggests Apple to use breakthrough Liquidmetal somewhere soon – October 18, 2016
Apple supplier Catcher CEO: One iPhone model will adopt glass casing next year – May 19, 2016
Apple granted key U.S patent for Touch ID fingerprint recognition integrated into Multi-Touch display – May 18, 2016
Apple supplier LG Innotek embeds fingerprint sensor into display – May 4, 2016
Why the 2017 iPhone will be made of Liquidmetal – April 18, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple’s 2017 iPhone to feature new ‘all glass’ enclosure – April 18, 2016
Professor behind Liquidmorphium Turing Phone invests in Liquidmetal, named to Board, enters into cross-licensing agreement – March 14, 2016
3D fingerprint sensors under Gorilla Glass may let Apple kill iPhone’s Home button – July 21, 2015
The Turing Phone is not made out of Liquidmetal – July 15, 2015
Why does Apple keep extending their partnership with Liquidmetal? – June 25, 2015
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2016 – June 23, 2015
Apple working on eliminating the Home button on iPhone, iPad, sources say – June 22, 2015
Two new Liquidmetal patent filings from Apple revealed; list watch and jewelry among potential uses – April 23, 2015
Apple files for patent to move Touch ID fingerprint scanner from home button to display – February 9, 2015
Liquidmetal’s Apple alliance yet to bear fruit – September 30, 2014
Apple’s new Liquidmetal-related patent sparks speculation – July 7, 2014
Apple patents method for embedding sapphire displays in LiquidMetal device chassis – May 27, 2014
Liquidmetal-Visser agreement paves the way for more rapid adoption of amorphous metal manufacturing – May 21, 2014
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2015 – May 21, 2014

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Alex F.” for the heads up.]