Patently Apple is reporting that Apple is currently using liquid metal in the iPhone 5s. Apple patents also suggest that the company is looking to use liquid metal in the smart cover of their iPads.
“Further proof came by way of new patent figures clearly spelling out the process of using Liquidmetal for the current iPhone with its classic metal bezel antenna,” Jack Purcher writes for Patently Apple. “Our report covers the most definitive proof to date that Apple’s current iPhone uses Liquidmetal and even reveals a possible new Apple accessory product that is shown to utilize this new material as well.”
Apple notes that “Forming a metal bezel around a transparent member insert using die casting and metal injection molding technique is known and described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0017263, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.”
Use of liquid metal or metal alloys requires extremely high temperatures, and in the case of an amorphous alloy, also requires specified cooling rates to maintain the amorphicity of the alloy. These conditions require specific transparent members that can withstand the temperature of the melted metal, and the cooling rate, and could create stresses within the transparent member that might cause deformations or cracks, if certain amorphous metals requiring rapid cooling were utilized.
Apple notes that “Forming an amorphous alloy frame for electronic hardware and flat panel displays is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 6,771,490, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.”
Therefore, what is needed is a method and an apparatus that allows for the tolerances associated with a metal-based frame and a glass component, or a metal-based frame and a plastic component, to be substantially relaxed.