Four of Apple's Liquid Metal Inventions Surfaced today with one covering the Creation of 3D Parts using Atomized Powder
Today the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a series of four patent applications from Apple relating to their potential use of liquid metal, a metallic glass alloy. One of the patents published today covers the creation of 3D parts using an atomized powder.
Apple's Invention: Methods for Constructing Parts using Metallic Glass Alloy (Liquid Metal)
Apple's invention generally relates to methods of constructing a three-dimensional part using metallic glass alloys, layer by layer, as well as metallic glass-forming materials designed for use therewith. In certain embodiments, a layer of metallic glass-forming powder or a sheet of metallic glass material is deposited to selected positions and then fused to a layer below by suitable methods such as laser heating or electron beam heating. The deposition and fusing are then repeated as need to construct the part, layer by layer. One or more sections or layers of non-metallic glass material can be included as needed to form composite parts. In one embodiment, the metallic glass-forming powder is a homogenous atomized powder.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary method of constructing a part from metallic glass sheets layer by layer.
Apple's first patent application 20150299825 was originally filed in Q2 2015. The other liquid metal related patents published today by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office include the following:
Patent Application 20150299824: AMORPHOUS ALLOY ROLL FORMING OF FEEDSTOCK OR COMPONENT PART
Patent Application 20150298206: INJECTION MOLDING AND CASTING OF MATERIALS USING A VERTICAL INJECTION MOLDING SYSTEM
Patent Application 20150298207: INDUCTIVE COIL DESIGNS FOR THE MELTING AND MOVEMENT OF AMORPHOUS METALS
Apple never pinpoints what liquid metal is used for in their patents save for a general blanket of products noted as: "a telephone, such as a cell phone, and a land-line phone, or any communication device, such as a smart phone, including, for example an iPhone, and an electronic email sending/receiving device. It can be a part of a display, such as a digital display, a TV monitor, an electronic-book reader, a portable web-browser (e.g., iPad.), watch and a computer monitor. It can also be an entertainment device, including a portable DVD player, conventional DVD player, Blue-Ray disk player, video game console, music player, such as a portable music player (e.g., iPod), etc. It can also be a part of a device that provides control, such as controlling the streaming of images, videos, sounds (e.g., Apple TV.), or it can be a remote control for an electronic device. It can be a part of a computer or its accessories, such as the hard drive tower housing or casing, laptop housing, laptop keyboard, laptop track pad, desktop keyboard, mouse, and speaker. The article can also be applied to a device such as a watch or a clock."
Considering that these are patent applications about parts, the timing of such to market is unknown at this time.
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