In a move that promises a future of higher performance, cheaper and more elegant iPhone, Macbook and desktop casings, Apple has signed an exclusive deal with Liquidmetal Technologies, a company that makes a special metallic glass.
Unlike regular metal products, which have a crystal structure that prevents die casting and provides natural points for dents and scratches to form, Liquidmetal Technologiesí "amorphous" metal combines the strength of steel with a low weight and die cast compatibility.
Liquidmetal Technologies produces an amorphous metal called Vitreloy, which is primarily composed of zircon. Used mainly for sporting equipment so far, the company has also produced components of cell phone cases in the past, said William Johnson, former vice chairman of technology at Liquidmetal Technologies, professor of materials science at Caltech and inventor of Vitreloy.
"The material is durable, hard, scratch resistant, and can be processed thermo-plastically at relatively low temperature," Johnson told TechNewsDaily.
Vitreloy "tends to be lighter than steel, a bit heavier than titanium. You can produce complex, three-dimensional shapes pretty well."
Vitreloy "tends to be lighter than steel, a bit heavier than titanium. You can produce complex, three dimensional shapes pretty well."
By replacing the current metal and plastic cases with Vitreloy, Apple can drastically increase the toughness of their products while reducing the weight. But whether or not this move will reduce the cost remains to be seen.
What's so special about this metal, you ask?
- With approximately 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of commonly used stainless steel, Liquidmetal alloys enable sophisticated, engineered designs required by the evolution of new technologies
- Enables thinner, smaller designs while providing greater protection for internal components
- Permits thinner walls while providing greater strength
- Allows larger, wider screens for expanded features and capabilities
- With precision net-shape casting, Liquidmetal alloys can be readily fashioned into intricate, innovative designs resulting in a unique aesthetic advantage
- Excellent durability
- Scratch and corrosion resistant