updated 08:18 pm EDT, Mon June 18, 2012
Wide use of the technology still years away
An SEC filing by Liquidmetal Technologies on Friday revealed that the company has extended its licensing of the technology to Apple for exploitation in consumer electronics for another two years beyond the original agreement, now in effect until 2014. Apple has made light use of the technology since 2010 on small parts such as the SIM card ejector pin in the iPhone 3GS, but continues to develop the innovation for commercial use.
Liquidmetal is the brand name for a new class of amorphous, bulk-metallic glass that allows parts to be injection-molded more quickly and inexpensively than other methods, producing a much stronger and more durable result. The main advantage of Liquidmetal is that the increased strength allows it to be cast into complex shapes. Under the agreement, Apple has exclusive use of the technology in the area of consumer electronics, while Liquidmetal itself exploits the alloy in other industrial and consumer arenas.
The company's CEO, Thomas Steipp, has said that Apple has plans to commercialize the alloys and increase their use in (presumably) future Apple products, but to date the company has kept quiet about its plans and to what extent it is already using or will use the process to make stronger parts or products. The technology is still said to be several years away from being use for something on a large scale (such as the unibody casing of the MacBook line as an example), though rumors have persisted that the next iPhone will make much greater use of the technology.