Summary: A new patent awarded to Apple could pave the way for a whole host of devices -- iPhones, iPads, iPods, iWatches -- made from the high-tech, super-touch amorphous metal alloy.
Interest in the high-tech, super-touch amorphous metal alloy called Liquidmetal spiked back in August of 2010 when Apple gained an exclusive licensed to the product. Was this going to herald in a new era of Liquidmetal iPhones, iPads, Macs, and iPods?
Well, short of making the SIM eject tool for the iPhone out of this wonder material, Apple has done nothing with Liquidmetal. Part of the problem with Liquidmetal is making it in significant enough volumes for mass market devices.
See also: What is Liquidmetal used for?
But this could change.
United States patent 8485245, titled "Bulk amorphous alloy sheet forming processes," which was awarded to Apple on July 16, outlines a process that could operate non-stop for 10 to 15 years and output 6000 kilometers of Liquidmetal a year in thicknesses between 0.1 to 25 millimeters and widths up to 3 meters. The process outlined to output Liquidmetal is similar to the "float glass" process used for making window glass.
This, according to the patent, could "be valuable in the fabrication of electronic devices" such as iPhones, iPads, iPods, laptops, and even "a device such as a watch or a clock".
I've come into contact with Liquidmetal in the past, as part of the casing for a super-strong Sandisk Cruzer Titanium USB flash drive. The casing of this drive took an insane amount of punishment and survived. I stamped on it, ran my office chair over it, drove over it, threw bricks at it, hit it with a baseball bat and it just wouldn't break. In fact, I could barely put a scratch in it.
There's no doubt in my mind that Liquidmetal is tough stuff. Now that it seems that Apple has cracked the problem of making it in large volumes, we could see some interesting things done with it.