Apple will use Liquidmetal in a 'breakthrough product', not the new MacBook Pro

Liquidmetal inventor says it could be a few years until wee see the alloy in Apple products, though

One of the inventors of Liquidmetal, Atakan Peker, has said that Apple is 'unlikely' to use the alloy in its next MacBook range, but he does expect the company to use the technology in a 'breakthrough product'.

Rumours of Liquidmetal in Apple products have been gaining momentum in the past month, with reports that Apple would be using the technology in the next-generation iPhone and MacBook Pro.

"Given the size of MacBook and scale of Apple products, I think it's unlikely that Liquidmetal casing will be used in MacBooks in the near term," said Peker in an interview with Business Insider. "A MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement."

Peker added that rumours that Liquidmetal would be used in the next MacBooks might not be completely untrue, but it would be on a much smaller scale: "It's more likely in the form of a small components such as a hinge or bracket." Apple has used Liquidmetal in its products already, but just in the SIM card ejector pin, rather than in the body of the iPhone itself.

One of the reasons behind Peker's belief that it will be a few more years before we see Liquidmetal as a main feature in Apple products is because it is still a new technology that is in the process of being developed. "I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million - and three to five years - to mature the technology before it can be used in a large scale," he said.

Peker thinks that Liquidmetal will be used to replace current materials used in Apple's devices, and also believes that it will be used to make a breakthrough product. "Apple's exclusively licensing a new material technology (specifically for casing and enclosures) is a first in the industry," he said. "Therefore, I expect Apple to use this technology in a breakthrough product. Such product will likely bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together, and will also be very difficult to copy or duplicate with other material technologies."

Apple has exclusively licensed Liquidmetal's technology, but Peker expects that other companies will find a way to use the technology when it becomes more mature.

Peker explained what benefits Liquidmetal could bring to Apple's devices: "Liquidmetal is super strong, scratch and corrosion resistant, resilient and can be precision cast into complex shapes. The benefits will be in the form of strong and aesthetic structural components, such as casing and frames."

"At first look, it looks like a typical metal, more like stainless steel," Peker explained. "Its silvery grey metallic colour has a bit different tone and hue than stainless steel. Depending on the specific alloy formulation, its hue may vary slightly. Its surface can be prepared in various cosmetic finishes, such as bright shiny, satin or brush metallic. It feels like a solid strong metal like stainless steel and comes a bit warmer to hand when touching compared to other metals."

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Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
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