Apple's Liquidmetal ambitions have been all the rage in recent months, but a handful of new patent filings published this week reveal that Cupertino could implement some form of 3D printing with the technology.
Patently Apple has the spot on some new Apple patent filings published by the US Patent & Trademark Office, all of which revolve around the company's future plans for implementing the super-strong Liquidmetal alloy.
With earlier patent filings suggesting next year's rumored iPhone 6 could utilize bulk metallic glasses (BMG, the technical term for Liquidmetal), Apple's most recent patent filings hint at other possible uses.
Published November 20, the latest round of patents focus on how Liquidmetal might be used to improve devices such as smartphones like future iPhones, tablets such as the iPad or even TV and computer monitors.
A new dimension
3D printing comes into play by allowing Apple to use "computer-generated design data" to create enclosures for devices where size and space constraints might make them impossible to get done using other methods.
"3D printing can be quicker and less expensive than machining of prototype parts or production of cast or molded parts by conventional 'hard' or 'soft' tooling techniques that can take from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the part," the report noted.
Liquidmetal would allow Apple to construct parts for such devices using a layer of BMG powder capable of being fused to other layers through laser or electron beam heating to arrive at the desired shape(s).