A filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission has revealed that Apple Inc. has acquired “substantially all” of Liquidmetal Technologies intellectual property, including rights to the company’s non-crystalline metal alloys. The technology will be held by a newly-created special purpose IP holding company, with Apple holding the exclusive rights to license the technology for commercial purposes…or, of course, use it in its own products.
Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Liquidmetal’s technology creates am “amorphous,” non-crystalline metal alloys that are not only strong and highly resistant to impact and metal fatigue, but are also lighter than comparable cast metal parts. The technology has been applied to sports equipment, medicine, defense, space projects, hinges, and even some consumer electronics—SanDisk and Nokia have used the allows in some of their products. It is unknown whether Apple plans to continue to license the technology to existing customers, or intends to keep everything for itself.
Another big unknown: what, exactly, Apple plans to do with Liquidmetal alloys. A number of possibilities suggest themselves, from stronger-and-lighter cases for Macbooks and portable devices like iPhones. LIquidmetal claims that its allows offer up to 2.5 the strength of common titanium allows and 1.5 the hardness of typical stainless steel alloys, enabling manufacturers to create thinner and lighter casings that are just as strong (or stronger) than cases made from those materials. Liquidmetal also says its alloys are corrosion-resistant and non-reactive, and can be cast into “intricate” shapes&mdsah;something Apple has already been exploring with its unibody notebook designs.
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