Apple Files New Liquidmetal Patents Covering an Injection Mold & the Creation of the Bottom Portion of the iPhone
Last week we posted a new report titled "New Patent Sheds Light on the iPhone Created with Liquidmetal" wherein we presented the revelation that Apple's iPhone with metal bezel was actually a liquidmetal design. Since that time another two Liquidmetal patent applications have surfaced in Europe. One of them covers an customized injection mold for creating iPhone parts while the other addresses the creation of the iPhone's bottom portion with input/output port and jack created with a liquidmetal composition. The patent also restates constantly that the iPhone's housing is made from a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy. In another segment of the patent Apple references a "glassy alloy" may be formed using a deeply undercooled glass forming liquid which strongly suggests that the backside of the iPhone is liquidmetal composite and not simply glass as their new TV ad presented.
Apple's Patent Summary
A proposed solution according to embodiments herein is to provide a consumer electronics device housing or frame made from a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy core in which at least a portion of the housing or frame is clad in a ductile material. In accordance with one embodiment, there is provided a consumer electronics device having a housing including at least a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy, at least one input/output port or jack, and a ductile coating at least over the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy adjacent the at least one input/output port or jack.
In accordance with another embodiment, there is provided a method of making a housing for a consumer electronics device that includes forming the housing from at least a bulk solidifying amorphous alloy, the housing including at least one input/output port or jack. The method also includes positioning a ductile material adjacent the at least one input/output port or jack, and then joining the ductile material to the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy.
In accordance with another embodiment, there is provided a method of making a housing for a consumer electronics device that includes forming the housing from at least a bulk solidifying amorphous alloy, the housing including at least one input/output port or jack. The method also includes coating a ductile material on the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy in at least the area of the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy that is adjacent to the at least one input/output port or jack.
In Apple's patent Figure 3 shown below we see a perspective view of an iPhone having a housing made with a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy having a ductile metal or metal alloy positioned in an area adjacent at least one input/output port or jack in accordance with an embodiment.
Examples of locations in which antenna structures may be located on the iPhone include region 18 and region 21. These are merely illustrative examples. Any suitable portion of the iPhone may be used to house antenna structures for the iPhone if desired.
The area of housing or band 12 surrounding ports 20, 22, and 24, for example, may be designed to have a greater ductility or flexibility than other areas of the housing. Use of a brittle bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material in these areas may result in some of the material being broken, as connector pins, antenna jacks and other input devices are repeatedly inserted and withdrawn from the respective ports 20, 22, and 24. In these areas, a more ductile metal or metal alloy may be used to provide greater ductility in these select areas of housing or band.
In Apple's Figure 4 shown below we see is a side view of the bottom of the iPhone showing the areas of the input/output ports or jacks surrounded by a ductile material.
It's noted that patent Figure 4 is a view of the bottom of the iPhone in which the housing is made from a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy and the areas surrounding the ports 20, 22, and 24 are surrounded by ductile material 40, 42, and 44, respectively.
Apple further notes that if the melting point of the ductile material 40, 42, 44 is higher than the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material used to fabricate housing, an alternative method includes forming ductile material 40, 42, 44 first, and then casting or spray coating the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy onto the ductile material using a suitable mold apparatus.
Apple's claim number 19 states that "the high velocity thermal spraying process is selected from the group consisting of cold spraying, detonation spraying, flame spraying, high velocity oxy-fuel coating spraying (HVOF), plasma spraying, warm spraying, wire arc spraying, twin-wire arc spraying or combinations thereof.
In Apple's patent Figure 5 shown below we see is a side view of a portion of the iPhone illustrating a method of providing a ductile material in areas adjacent input/output ports or jacks.
Only the bottom portion of the housing is shown in Figure 5. The housing is comprised of a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy, can be formed to include through holes for ports 20, 22, and 24, and cut-outs 500 that can be filled, cast, or coated with a ductile material, shown as 42 in Figure 5. A suitable mold material can be used to block through holes 20, 22, and 24, as shown by numerals 50, 52, and 54. The ductile material then can be coated, cast, or filled into the cut-outs 500, joined to bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy housing in accordance with any of the joining techniques discussed within the patent application, and the mold materials 50, 52, and 54 removed to produce the bottom of the iPhone.
Apple's patent Figure 6 is a side view of a portion of the housing of the iPhone illustrating a method of providing a ductile material in areas adjacent input/output ports or jacks.
In other embodiments, the ductile material is a metal or alloy of the metal in which the specific metal used is not one of the metals used to form the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy. In other embodiments, the ductile material is a plastic material, or rubber material.
Examples of suitable ductile metals include, without limitation, one or more metals, or alloys of a metal selected from tantalum, niobium, molybdenum, iridium, rhodium, titanium, hafnium, zirconium, magnesium, rhenium, tungsten, gold, silver, platinum, iron, nickel, copper, aluminum, zinc, tin, lead, and alloys and mixtures thereof.
The ductile metal or alloy of the metal may be comprised of a single metal, or may be an alloy of a number of metals. In addition to metals or alloys of metals, polymeric ductile materials also may be used in certain embodiments. Suitable ductile polymeric materials include, for example, polyolefins, rubbers, polymeric foams, polyacrylates, solidified gels, and mixtures thereof.
Apple's patent Figure 7 shown below illustrates a quaternary phase diagram illustrating a compositional range for forming a joint between a bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material and a ductile material.
Additionally Figure 7 illustrates a tetrahedral-plot approach for depicting the alloying composition range for a four component alloy system (A,B,C,D) wherein the alloy system includes, for example, an element B that is a principal component of the at least one metal or alloy of that metal that is used to form the ductile material. The alloy system (A,B,C,D) is known to be capable of achieving the amorphous state in at least some circumstances.
In one process, a glassy alloy may be formed using a deeply undercooled glass forming liquid. In such a technique, the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy and the ductile material are positioned adjacent one another in their respective positions, and then melted above Tm of the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy, then quickly quenched to low temperature.
Apple's European patent application 2013165441 was published earlier this week and originally filed in Europe in Q2, 2012.
A second European Liquidmetal related patent (2013165442) that was filed last week covered injection molds. Apple states that "When melting materials in an injection molding system, uniform temperatures in ranges appropriate to the meltable material should be implemented and maintained in order to produce quality molded parts. Maintaining meltable material within a melt zone during melting can improve quality."
Apple's patent FIG. 8 noted above illustrates a schematic diagram of an exemplary system utilizing a single polarity to constrain material during melting.
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