Apple Not Yet Ready for Liquidmetal Says Inventor

Source: Dr. Atakan Peker/ Washington State University

Inventor of Liquidmetal Dr. Atakan Peker said in an interview with Business Insider that Apple is not yet ready to use the material in its next-generation iPhone’s casing. That’s because it will take millions of dollars and more than three years for Apple to mass-produce products made from the said material.

Facing the Unlikely Future

According to Peker, an estimated investment of $300 million to $500 million and three to five years is needed before it finds its way to the hands of the consumers. That’s because there is “no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of this alloy technology.” He further stated that “this is a technology that has yet to be matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development.”

Thus, it is unlikely that MacBook casings will be made from Liquidmetal in the near future. However, small operational parts such as hinges and brackets can be produced using the material. In fact, Nokia and Samsung have employed the metal alloy in their previous units, though not as a main design or structural feature.

Liquidmetal Components on Apple Products

Last month, it was reported that Apple recently bought an exclusive license from Liquidmetal Technologies to use the material in 2010. In addition, it was rumored to be one of the components of the next-generation iPhone.

There were claims that the upcoming handset would ditch its glass back panel for one of Liquidmetal. Although this report was nothing new, it still provided conflicting reports on whether the company will launch an all-new design or retain its previous design. Liquidmetal’s structure is both strong and pleasing to the eye, that’s why it would fit nicely as a device component for casings and frames. Peker pointed out:

“Liquidmetal is super strong, scratch and corrosion resistant, resilient, and can be precision cast into complex shapes…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.”

While it is still unclear whether Apple’s next-generation iPhone will feature a Liquidmetal back, the use of this material is nothing new for the Cupertino-based company. Their iPhone 3G’s SIM ejection tool was the first product that they created out of Liquidmetal.

However, there are no further indications that the company has created any of its products from the alloy since then. But Peker speculates that Liquidmetal will be used to replace existing components, followed by a “breakthrough product” in the years to come.

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