After investigating today’s news (see the press release “Liquidmetal Technologies Raises up to $63 Million in Partnership with Global Manufacturing Firm EONTEC” below), we found an interesting connection and also remembered the MacRumors patent report from last week (bottom).
Before you read today’s press release below, note that the Turing Phone, made by Turing Robotic Industries (TRI), is made out of Liquidmorphium™ and that, last April, Andy Boxall reported for Digital Trends: “What about the mysterious company, TRI, behind the Turing Phone? It’s funded by Lugee Li, the CEO of Chinese company EONTEC, which produces the liquid metal used to construct the Turing Phone.”
Today’s press release, verbatim:
Liquidmetal Technologies Raises up to $63 Million in Partnership with Global Manufacturing Firm EONTEC
-Expands Global Footprint and Product Offering-
March 14, 2016 06:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Liquidmetal® Technologies, Inc. (OTCQB: LQMT) (“LQMT”), the world’s leading developer of amorphous alloys, announced today that it closed on a financing transaction of up to $63.4 million (initial closing occurred on March 10, 2016 in the amount of $8.4 million through the sale of equity to a private investor, with a commitment for an additional investment in the amount of $55.0 million subject to an increase in authorized shares to be approved by shareholders) . The investment was made in conjunction with a cross-licensing agreement with DongGuan EONTEC Co., Ltd. (“EONTEC”), a publicly traded company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (300328.sz).
EONTEC is a global manufacturing company headquartered in Hong Kong with manufacturing plants in China. It specializes in new material development, such as bulk metallic glasses and medical grade magnesium for implants. The company possesses a full set of mass production capabilities for zirconium based amorphous alloys, including material refining, tooling, and machining, surface treatment, as well as equipment and machine building capabilities for making large parts out of bulk metallic glass.
The equity investment in LQMT was made by Professor Lugee Li, who is also the Chairman and majority stockholder of EONTEC. Professor Li serves as an Analyst for the Institute of Metal Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and teaches at several universities in China. As part of the transaction, Professor Li was elected as a Board member of LQMT.
“EONTEC’s capabilities complement LQMT’s focus on production of high-performance parts, allowing LQMT to address a broad range of market opportunities from automotive, medical, and industrial customers. This partnership positions LQMT well to support design and production globally at a vastly increased pace,” said Professor Li.
“This investment and partnership recognizes the significant advancements in technological and commercial capabilities that Liquidmetal has forged over the last five years. Our brand and market positions in North America and Europe are without peer,” said Thomas Steipp, President and CEO at LQMT. “This financing transaction and cross-licensing agreement provides us with the platform and resources necessary to establish a global market in Liquidmetal® alloy solutions and to fast-track the market development of our core offerings. With this partnership, we will extend our capabilities to significantly larger parts, as well as offering substantially lower price points for some consumer markets. EONTEC and Liquidmetal each bring significant capabilities to this partnership, and we believe that result will be a much larger market that develops much more quickly,” continued Mr. Steipp.
For more information, please refer to our Form 8-K describing the transaction filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 14, 2016.
Also of interest:
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [on March 8th] granted Apple a series of 40 new patents, including one that describes various implementations and benefits of a Liquidmetal home button on iPhones and iPads,” Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors.
“Apple has annually renewed its exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal since 2010, but how it plans to use the alloys remains unclear,” Rossignol reports. “Early speculation centered around Apple using Liquidmetal for the iPhone SIM Tool, while other Liquidmetal home button patents have surfaced as early as 2014.”
“Today’s patent explains how Liquidmetal’s high elasticity makes it an ideal material for a pressure-sensitive home button that would deform slightly when pressed, but return to its normal shape when you remove your finger or thumb,” Rossignol reports. “Liquidmetal would always retain this elasticity, while other materials like titanium or stainless steel could become irreversibly deformed and adversely affect the home button.”
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.
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
Two new Liquidmetal patent filings from Apple revealed; list watch and jewelry among potential uses – April 23, 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
It’s a good chance that Apple is bankrolling this endeavor. Their experience with GT Advanced not withstanding, I am positive that they did not give up on the idea of using bleeding edge manufacturers to take on this actual manufacturing for them. EONTECH may be licensing Liquidmetal for other markets, and that is part of the “carrot” for taking Apple’s exclusive terms.
I am trying to imagine how Liquidmetal could be used for the home button, especially with TouchID.
Read the MacRumors article. It’s pretty clear. Liquidmetal can be stressed within tolerances nearly indefinitely without failing.
Not a metallurgist, are you? All metals have fatigue lives. No metal has indefinite stress curves. Furthermore, Liquidmetal cannot possibly have superior fatigue life compared to alloys that have been processed to control grin direction in the alloy to be appropriate for the part. An amorphous alloy has no preferential strength direction, which means it also cannot be well optimized for specific stress application. For some parts, it doesn’t matter. But if stress optimization doesn’t matter, then it’s hard to see the advantages of using an expensive alloy over inexpensive thermoset material.
Liquidmetal is simply a new alloy that can be pressure cast into relatively thin shapes that require minimal post-machining. I infer it has a fair amount of magnesium in it, but I haven’t taken the time to parse out details from Liquidmetal’s unreadable news releases.
But bottom line, castings are neither stronger nor better in fatigue than conventional alloys that are processed with good control of alloy structure and grain direction. If Apple wanted the strongest aluminum products, it would machine its products out of closed die forgings. Not gonna happen anytime soon, because Apple designs its products to be mass produced. Except perhaps its luxury watch line, which has low enough production that casting groovy fashion shapes in funky pink colors will be very important.
Me, I have always been a fan of the Ti PowerBook. Shame that Apple couldn’t afford to keep using the material. Perhaps Tim must have run out of cash?
This article gave me a nose-bleed…and I still don’t get its relevance.