Liquidmetal Stories March 8, 2016

liquidmetal

When Apple signed an exclusive deal to use the superstrong alloy liquidmetal way back in 2010, there was a lot of speculation about how Apple might use it. The only immediate answer we saw was in the SIM ejection tool supplied with iPhones.

While some had expected Apple to use liquidmetal for product casings, the high cost of the material seemed to rule that out, at least in the short-term. There’s also been no sign of the super long-lasting batteries some had suggested.

But Apple clearly does have a use for it beyond SIM eject tools, last year renewing those exclusive rights – and a patent granted to the company today suggests one possible reason why …

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Liquidmetal Stories June 23, 2015

Apple extends its exclusive rights to Liquidmetal for another year

After Apple’s original contract securing the rights to use Liquidmetal’s unique metal alloy in consumer electronic products was extended through February 2015, today proof comes that Apple has once again secured rights for another year, hinting at its continued interest in the material.

On June 17, 2015, Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. (the “Company”) and Apple Inc. (“Apple”) entered into a third amendment (the “Third Amendment”) to the Master Transaction Agreement that was originally entered into on August 5, 2010 and amended on June 15, 2012 and May 17, 2014 (the “MTA”). Under the MTA and its first two amendments in 2012 and 2014, the Company was obligated to contribute to Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a special purpose subsidiary of the Company, all intellectual property acquired or developed by the Company from August 5, 2010 through February 5, 2015, and all intellectual property held by Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC was exclusively licensed on a perpetual basis to Apple for the field of use of consumer electronic products under the MTA. Under the Third Amendment, the parties agreed to extend the February 5, 2015 date to February 5, 2016. The Third Amendment has an effective date of February 26, 2015.

While Apple has yet to use the material in its products, apart from reportedly testing the material in its SIM card injector tool, back in 2012 Liquidmetal’s inventor noted that it would likely take three to five years before the material would be ready for use on a large scale and approximately two to four more years to implement in something like a MacBook casing. What’s more likely is Apple using the technology for smaller parts first, like a hinge or a bracket, according to its inventor. Watchmakers have notably made use of the material for components of traditional watches.

(via MacRumors)

Liquidmetal Stories May 21, 2014

Liquid-Metal-Seamaster-Planet-Ocean

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean watch with Liquidmetal

Apple has extended its rights to the metal alloy material that it originally licensed from Liquidmetal Technologies in 2010 for exclusive use in consumer electronics products. The proof comes from a recent filing with the SEC:

On May 19, 2014, Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. (the “Company”) and Apple Inc. (“Apple”) entered into an second amendment (the “Second Amendment”) to the Master Transaction Agreement that was originally entered into on August 5, 2010 (the “MTA”) and amended on June 15, 2012 (the “First Amendment”). Under the MTA and the First Amendment, the Company was obligated to contribute to Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a special purpose subsidiary of the Company, all intellectual property acquired or developed by the Company from August 5, 2010 through February 5, 2014, and all intellectual property held by Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC was exclusively licensed on a perpetual basis to Apple for the field of use of consumer electronic products under the MTA. Under the Second Amendment, the parties agreed to amend the MTA and the First Amendment to extend the February 5, 2014 date to February 5, 2015.

Up until now Apple has tested the material in its SIM card ejector tool that came with previous generation iPhones, but several rumors in recent years have claimed it could take advantage of Liquidmetal for batteries, screws or other components of its products. However, back in 2012, one of Liquidmetal’s inventors noted that Apple was likely still three to five years away from using the material on a large scale in products: expand full story

Liquidmetal Stories July 17, 2013

Apple/Liquidmetal patent hints at high-volume production capabilities

In the past, Apple was able to sneak Liquidmetal into production by building the SIM ejector tool using the material. Now, it looks like Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies’ joint venture company, Crucible Intellectual Property, is preparing for mass volume production through manufacturing techniques found in a new patent called “Bulk amorphous alloy sheet forming processes”.

Since the metal is expensive,  liquidmetal won’t be replacing the aluminum shells of iOS or OS X devices anytime soon. However, it could easily replace glass in some areas, since it is strong and radio transparent.

No matter the case, it’s intriguing to see the progress with this new technology and this patent seems to indicate its high-volume debut may be nearing.

(via Engadget)

Liquidmetal Stories February 12, 2013

Apple-iWatch-Concept-01

Since the old iWatch rumor reared its head again in December, there have been a few more reliable sources adding weight to the idea that we could see a smart watch from Apple this year. Over the weekend, The New York Times, which said essentially the same thing in 2011, followed up the rumors with a report that Apple is working on a curved glass watch prototype running iOS. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed with more information, claiming Apple and partner Foxconn are now testing wearable, watch-like devices.

While many have speculated what Apple might include in an iWatch, such as Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group Bruce Tognazzini, all we get from reports is “curved glass” and “iOS”. Apple has clearly been testing wearable prototypes with several patents dating as far back as 2009, describing potential integration with wristwatches and iOS devices. By taking a look at the technology for watches that Apple is already experimenting with through the many publicly available patents, we put together a list of some of the features the company could very well include in an Apple-branded smart watch. expand full story

Liquidmetal Stories June 18, 2012

Apple extends deal with Liquidmetal Technologies until 2014

As noted by MacRumors, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed today that Liquidmetal Technologies will continue to license its technology to Apple through Feb. 5, 2014. The previous deal from 2010 gave Apple rights to the patented amorphous metal alloys through Feb. 5 2012. As of yet, we only know Apple has tested Liquidmetal in its iPhone SIM card ejector tools, but we recently heard CEO Thomas Steipp (above) hinting that Apple plans to commercialize the technology. Rumors in April indicated it could be used in products on a larger scale within a few years.

Liquidmetal Stories June 4, 2012

Liquidmetal Technologies CEO confirms upcoming parts in Apple consumer products [video]

Apple has been said to use the oh-so shiny Liquidmetal technology ever since the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company obtained a patent to use Liquidmetal in its products in 2o1o. Apple ran a test using Liquidmetal in its SIM card ejector tool, and it is further rumored to be investigating uses in batteries. Some even said that Liquidmetal would be used in the next iPhone. However, it is unlikely that the casing will be made of the material.

In what looks to be a video aimed toward potential investors, Liquidmetal Technologies’ CEO Tom Steipp confirmed his company’s involvement by announcing it is supplying Liquidmetal to Apple. In the video seen below, the CEO said (55 seconds): “Our technology has been commercialized in a number of accounts,most recently by Apple computer, which took a license on the product in August of 2010. [Apple] along with us are commercializing [Liquidmetal] in the consumer electronic space.”

We do not believe Steipp is confirming Liquidmetal as a feature in the next iPhone, iPad, or computer on a large-scale. Although, it appears he is confirming that Apple will/has used Liquidmetal for more expensive parts—perhaps dealing with dense batteries. It makes sense for Apple to use the best materials out there.

This is not the first time we have heard from Steipp:

Liquidmetal Stories May 2, 2012

Inventor says Apple several years away from large Liquidmetal products

Last month, there were rumors claiming Apple planned to use the Liquidmetal amorphous metal alloys it obtained the rights to in 2010 for an upcoming iPhone. Speaking with BusinessInsider, one of Liquidmetal’s inventors, Atakan Peker, said Apple is still a few years away before we will see Liquidmetal used in a large scale—at least for MacBooks. Although, he does think a breakthrough product made of the material is in the cards for Apple.

A few highlights from the interview are below:

How long did it take to perfect Liquidmetal?

I would not say Liquidmetal was perfected. This is a technology that has yet to be matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development. I should note that this is a completely new and different metal technology. Therefore, there is no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of this alloy technology.

For example, 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.

I’ve heard rumors that future MacBooks from Apple could use Liquidmetal casing, what would that be like? Is it likely to happen?

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

How does Liquidmetal compare to the metal, glass, and plastic used in mobile devices now?

Each 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.

Is there anything else relating to mobile gadgets and Liquidmetal that you think people should know about?

I expect Liquidmetal application in two ways: First evolutionary substitution of current materials and secondly, and more importantly, in a breakthrough product made only possible by Liquidmetal technology. Apple’s exclusively licensing a new material technology (specifically for casing and enclosures) is a first in the industry.

This is very exciting. Therefore, I expect Apple to use this technology in a breakthrough product. Such product will likely bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together, and will also be very difficult to copy or duplicate with other material technologies.

You can read the full interview at BusinessInsider.

Liquidmetal Stories April 20, 2012

Munster: Next iPhone will be ‘Mother of all Upgrades’ (video)

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Yesterday, we reported that Qualcomm announced it was having “trouble meeting demand” for its next-generation chips that would likely find their way into an LTE-enabled iPhone 5. While the announcement was a clear indication that Apple’s rumored October release window was much more likely than talk of a June unveiling at WWDC, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster agreed and said the new device will be the mother of all hardware upgrades:

“We think one of the big features of iPhone 5 is going to be LTE… when iPhone 4S came out it was obviously the same form factor… this is going to be a big hardware upgrade… this is going to be the year of the hardware… the mother of all upgrades “

Liquidmetal Stories April 18, 2012

A new report from Korean publication ETNews.com claimed industry sources confirmed Apple will use “liquid metal” technology to make a thinner and lighter next-generation iPhone. Apple acquired rights to the patented amorphous metal alloys from Liquidmetal Technologies’ in August 2010.

According to industry sources, the next flagship phones of the companies are expected to adopt unprecedented materials for their main bodies, that is, ceramic for the Galaxy S3 and liquid metal for iPhone5, both being thin, light and highly resistant to external impacts. The new phase of the rivalry is because neither one of them can get a decisive edge over the other solely with its OS and AP specifications, features or design.

Apple has been rumored in the past to be using Liquidmetal in batteries and SIM card tools, but no solid evidence has backed these claims. Today’s report continued to assert that the iPhone 5, as ETNews.com referred to the device, is expected to launch at WWDC in San Francisco this June. However, the publication does not cite a source for the location and timeframe, so it is possible it is just basing this expectation on a rumor. As MacRumors pointed out, the website has a less than perfect track record. Many industry analysts expect Apple to move its iPhone release window to September or October due to the launch date of the iPhone 4S in 2011.

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Liquidmetal Stories March 7, 2012

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.

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Liquidmetal Stories January 5, 2011

Interesting: it seems the first big deal component Apple may manufacture with its newly-licensed LiquidMetal alloys (beyond that SIM card remover shipped with iPhone before) isn’t the body or the antenna — it’s the battery! expand full story

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