WWDC: So, how are Apple’s Liquidmetal plans shaping up?

“Apple seems set to thrill and possibly delight us at WWDC next week — but there are hints it is closer to discussing Liquidmetal, a technology [to which] it holds exclusive license,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.Evans writes”Apple took a “perpetual, exclusive license” to use Liquidmetal in consumer electronic products in 2010. It’s a non-crystalline material that’s 1.5 times harder than stainless steel and 2.5 times stronger than titanium alloy but can be cast like glass or plastic. This means you can make whatever shape you want to make, and news Apple has patented a way to make things using both Liquidmetal and Sapphire-augmented glass displays hints at something — imagine an iWatch or iPhone made this way.”

“There was talk Apple may make Liquidmetal MacBooks, but the expense of the substance may have prevented that. But that cost is about to fall,” Evans writes. “You see, while many noticed Apple had reached a new deal with Crucible, they didn’t notice Liquidmetal had managed to reach a better deal with Visser Precision Cast (VPS). VPS was previously the exclusive manufacturer of the substance, but Liquidmetal had complained it charged too much for making it.”

MacDailyNews Note: More info:
Liquidmetal-Visser agreement paves the way for more rapid adoption of amorphous metal manufacturing – MacDailyNews, May 21, 2014

“That’s interesting because since that deal was reached, the USPTO has published its patent filing,” Evans writes. “The Apple patent was originally filed six years ago. As it stands, Apple has the exclusive right to use a substance no one else can use in a consumer electronics product and its partner (Liquidmetal) can have that substance made wherever it likes.”

Evans writes, “We know Apple CEO Tim Cook is unwilling to let Apple be the ideas workshop of the world, and a move to use materials no one else can use would make its solutions hard to emulate. After all, how do you imitate products when you can’t get the parts?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: The Apple-Liquidmetal deal is basically this: Apple contributes engineers and R&D – basically figuring out how to practically make Liquidmetal into commercial parts – and contributes their inventions back to Liquidmetal (via Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a Liquidmetal subsidiary) which gets to use Apple’s inventions in fields other than consumer electronics (sporting goods, aviation, medical, military, etc.). With an already-paid one-time license fee of US$20 million, Apple owns sole rights to use Liquidmetal in electronics forever via “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products.” Every time we hear of Apple and Liquidmetal extending their agreement, it refers to Apple and Liquidmetal lengthening the amount of time where both companies share IP with each other via Crucible.

Related articles:
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
Apple granted Liquidmetal patent for hollow structures in possible future product designs – April 23, 2014
Time for Liquidmetal? Claimed leaked photos of Apple’s ‘iPhone 6′ show crazy thin device – April 1, 2014
17 new Apple patent applications detail Liquidmetal alloy use in device buttons, touch sensors, and more – January 14, 2014
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013
Apple files five Liquidmetal patent applications – November 22, 2013
Four new Apple Liquidmetal-related patents revealed in Europe – September 26, 2013
Apple patent application reveals methods of forming 3D structures with Liquidmetal – July 25, 2013
Apple and Liquidmetal scientists granted new patent that could enable Liquidmetal production on a massive scale – July 16, 2013
Apple patent application reveals new machinery for creating Liquidmetal forms – January 31, 2013
Liquidmetal ships first amorphous alloy production parts – November 16, 2012
Liquidmetal Technologies Inc. and Materion announce sales channel collaboration – September 7, 2012
Futuristic Liquidmetal alloy could transform Apple products – August 15, 2012
Why did Apple lock in Liquidmetal for two more years? – June 25, 2012
New Apple agreement suggests Liquidmetal iPhone will arrive within two years – June 20, 2012
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2014 – June 19, 2012
Why is Apple investing in equipment and machinery at an exponential rate? – May 23, 2012
Apple’s recent huge investments in plants and equipment for Liquidmetal use in iOS devices, Macs? – May 22, 2012
Apple patent app details new, possibly Liquidmetal-based speakerphone system for iOS devices – May 17, 2012
Apple and Liquidmetal: Don’t go by co-inventor’s word, he hasn’t worked for Liquidmetal since 2007 – May 6, 2012
Liquidmetal inventor: Apple will use it in a ‘breakthrough product’ that will be very difficult to copy – May 2, 2012
Whoa! This Liquidmetal iPhone 5 concept looks real – May 2, 2012
Check out these ultra-thin next-gen Liquidmetal iPhone artist’s concept images – May 1, 2012
Is Apple Inc.’s bet on Liquidmetal about to pay off? – April 30, 2012
Liquidmetal Technologies filing outlines its multimillion dollar agreement with Apple – March 31, 2012
Apple granted its first Liquidmetal patent – January 5, 2011
Apple patent application describes scratch-resistant stainless steel – October 29, 2010
Join the dots on six future Apple technologies – September 22, 2010
Apple already using Liquidmetal in their… – August 17, 2010
Inventor says Liquidmetal may be used for new iPhone antenna – August 13, 2010
How will Apple use their exclusive Liquidmetal alloy? – August 12, 2010
Apple’s exclusive Liquidmetal pact could see future Apple products encased in metallic glass – August 11, 2010
Apple inks deal for exclusive rights to custom, super-durable metal alloy – August 09, 2010


    1. The issue is cost of metals — LM is five times pricier than aluminium. So it could be used for pricey watches or maybe top, flagman phone, but not on cheaper devices in the meddle like iPhone 5C or the low price position like iPhone 4S.

      1. So how much does the aluminum in an iPhone 5s cost? Are you talking simple materials cost? Or are you referencing finished cost after machining and finishing?

        If your cost comparison is with respect to materials cost, then the fact that LM is cast and will require little machining and finishing relative to the billet aluminum process that Apple currently employs may offset the materials cost issue.

      2. Also, five times a small amount is not necessarily a deal breaker. In addition, LM may cost 5x as much now, but not in the part quantities/economies of scale that Apple requires for its devices.

        You are making the same argument that others made against synthetic sapphire, and the same counterarguments apply. An iOS device with a LM chassis and sapphire crystal display will be tough and scratch resistant. As a result, people might be able to save $10 to $30 of additional cost by foregoing screen protectors or cases.

        If the iPhone 6 has a 4.7″ display and Apple incorporates a water-resistant design on top of a LM chassis and sapphire display, then I just might buy six of them for my family. Under those circumstances, Samsung might as well stop manufacturing the G5.

    2. They will just come up with something “like” it, call it something different like Metallic Liquid, and then market it to their customers who won’t know the difference.

      1. Indeed Microsoft already tried test a while ago on the Surface when it expected Apple to launch liquid metal products soon after. The latter didn’t happen so the former fell flat as without it there was no transference of identity through familiarity. Interestingly Samsung’s vapourware ‘health’ watch announced today has no substance and a proposed software platform with no existing software based on the presumption that Apple will announce a similar though fleshed out product next week. You get the benefit of announcing first while remaining able to copy the real thing.

    1. Apple extended the license for one year, from Feb 2014 to Feb 2015. As with the last time they extended it, it took three months for the extension to be announced.

      Some of the patents that have been developed around Liquidmetal include a way to make a flexible band in a single piece, a way to connect liquidmetal to a sapphire face, a way to use existing machinery for injection molding polycarbonite (plastic) bodies for use with liquidmetal (consider that this means they don’t actually need a whole factory filled with brand new machines, but can use exising iPhone 5c machines), and a way to use a float plant to make large, thin sheets of liquidmetal in the same way that glass plants make glass.

      They have been working *really hard* on this for a long time. Add to that Liquidmetal’s recent invention of creating the same product without the highly toxic beryllium (toxic in the assembly plant, not in the final liquid liquidmetal product), which makes development much safer for the workers, and you’ve got a really good recipe for something amazing coming down the pike.

      There are even some fantastic sounding patents that have been developed, as with a method to cast a highly detailed texture onto the surface of the liquidmetal product which could, for example, include a hologram or other light bending properties.

      This is the real deal, and when/if they perfect it, it’ll knock people’s socks off. It’ll be beautiful in a way literally unlike any other product in the history of the world has been beautiful. Probably why they’ve been pulling in the fashion execs; so they can get expert opinions on just which revolutionary way to go.

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