Liquidmetal Technologies just announced it has begun shipment of commercial parts to unnamed customers around the world. The announcement of the Delaware-headquartered company is conveniently timed just two hours before Apple unveils its third-generation iPad at a media even in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The press release reads:

Liquidmetal Technologies today announced that its manufacturing operations are currently in the midst of shipping commercial parts to several of its customers world-wide. Parts delivery began this past December with continuing shipments scheduled for the months ahead.

CEO Tom Steipp noted that customers could use his company’s amorphous alloy technology to deliver “stronger, lighter, and more corrosion resistant parts.” Although no customer has been named, Apple is known to have obtained exclusive worldwide rights to use Liquidmetal’s patented metallic glass substance in consumer electronic products.

Specifically, Liquidmetal Technologies granted all of its intellectual property to Apple in 2010. There has been some speculation that the iPhone maker is already using the alloy in batteries and the SIM removal tool, but no compelling evidence has been produced to support those claims. With that in mind, the Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered consumer electronics giant has yet to make a jump from aluminum to metallic glass in its gadgets.

Liquidmetal alloys posses more than twice the strength of Titanium with the process ability of plastics. The new metallic glass substance stores energy much better than stainless steel or Titanium, it looks great, and it can be easily machined into more complex shapes than both Titanium or aluminum.

According to the Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.-based Liquidmetal Technologies, amorphous alloys are:

unique materials that are distinguished by their ability to retain a random structure when they solidify, in contrast to the crystalline atomic structure that forms in ordinary metals and alloys. Liquidmetal Technologies is the first company to produce amorphous alloys in commercially viable bulk form, enabling significant improvements in products across a wide array of industries.

According to a SEC filing from early 2010, Apple obtained exclusive worldwide rights to use the patented alloy in consumer electronic products. The filing specifically said (emphasis is ours):

On August 5, 2010, Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Liquidmetal”), entered into a Master Transaction Agreement with Apple Inc., a California corporation (“Apple”), pursuant to which (i) Liquidmetal contributed substantially all of its intellectual property assets to a newly organized special-purpose, wholly-owned subsidiary (the “IP Company”), (ii) the IP Company granted to Apple a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products in exchange for a license fee, and (iii) the IP Company granted back to Liquidmetal a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in all other fields of use (together with all ancillary agreements, the “Master Transaction Agreement”).


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