As the global leader in amorphous metal manufacturing, research, and production, Liquidmetal Technologies strives to give you the tools to be an amorphous metals expert. Keeping the Liquidmetal design guide up to date with the latest information regarding part design, production, and the post processing of Liquidmetal alloys is critical.
As Liquidmetal technology gains exposure to engineers in a variety of industries, applications that stand to benefit from the process are illuminated. The automotive industry has a vast landscape of components, each requiring a very specific set of attributes. These attributes are often mission critical, as the safety of millions is on the line.
As the Liquidmetal process and alloy continue gaining traction in a changing manufacturing marketplace, there is a growing need for comprehensive engineering information on the technology. Following its total update, thousands of copies of the Liquidmetal Design Guide 2.0 were read both online and in hard copy in recent months. The guide enabled engineers to identify candidate product applications for the technology as well as design new components for the process. The Liquidmetal Design Guide 3.0 will provide expanded information to customers on several topics including biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, magnetism, and more.
Welding is a joining process commonly used to build larger structures out of smaller components. Because amorphous metal formation requires specific critical cooling rates, the part size and thickness are somewhat limited. The ability to weld Liquidmetal® alloy to itself and to other dissimilar metals would extend the engineering applications of amorphous metals, helping to overcome the size limitation and offer more flexibility in part design and performance. Welds provide the strength, efficiency, versatility, and economic advantage necessary to build the myriad of structures and objects all around us – bridges, skyscrapers, automobiles, boats, oil rigs, the International Space Station, jewelry, sculptures (see Chicago’s Cloud Gate, a.k.a. “The Bean”), and more.
One of our most popular case studies compares various manufacturing methods for a missile component that controls flight. Supersonic missiles are highly sensitive to the exact geometry of control surfaces and precision is mission critical. Canards (French for “duck”) are the pivoting fins attached to the side body of missiles ahead of the main wing that provide stability and maneuverability for a projectile. Supersonic missiles must also shift between subsonic and supersonic speeds and canards affect the airflow against the main wing, altering the center of mass, and shifting the aerodynamic center. Thus, any deviation in geometric specifications will greatly affect flight control, causing extra turbulence and unanticipated movement.
Surgical stapling procedures have been in practice for over 100 years. Hungarian physician Dr. Humor Hultl is credited as the first surgeon to utilize stapling on a patient. Various stapling devices have been developed over the years, but the basic concept is unchanged and relies heavily on anvils with “precisely shaped pockets” to produce well-formed and secure staples. Typical surgical staples utilize stainless steel and titanium alloys which fire with controlled force sometimes excising and joining tissues simultaneously.
A simple salt water immersion corrosion test was set up to get a general idea of the corrosion properties of Liquidmetal alloys. Here are the specimens we tested:
A recent project, along with your feedback, has resulted in successful chess set designs by our summer intern, Cassidy Stevick.
Several people suggested a simple Staunton design to enable players to more easily distinguish the rank and position of the pieces. We have chosen to incorporate a few of these design elements, yet remain close to the original Liquidmetal theme. Traditional Staunton designs are technically possible, but please allow me to explain our intent and direction.
One of the prototypes that we have produced recently is moving closer to production. The prototype showcases the extraordinary elastic properties of Liquidmetal as a clamp. To protect customer confidentiality, we have disguised the geometry but are reporting actual results. We hope these will be of interest to other existing and potential customers.
In the first prototypes, two clamp spring designs were evaluated. A comparable steel solution would be expected to lose efficacy within 100 cycles, as the steel would yield and the clamp force would decrease. For this prototype design, a goal of at least 200 cycles without a decrease in the clamp force was specified. The clamp needed to be opened to create a gap close to the diameter of the circular clamp when closed (about 12mm).
The Liquidmetal team emphasizes innovation and idea generation from within, and outside the company. A recent exciting design exploits the remarkable elastic properties of our material.
UPDATE: The Liquidmetal Hybrid Knife is now available for purchase on our website. Formed using the Liquidmetal process, the hybrid knife is artistically designed and backed by a breakthrough technology. The two-piece knife is not a fixed blade or a folding knife, relying on the incredible precision of the Liquidmetal process to create a tight fit between the blade and protector. You can read more about the science and R&D behind the Liquidmetal Knife in a case study here.
Because Liquidmetal alloy is hard like a ceramic, stiff like steel, elastic like a plastic, and corrosion resistant like it has been given an expensive coating, a keen area of interest is in blade or blade-like applications. This is not surprising, especially given the nearest-to-net shape moldability of our alloy. In fact, we are currently investigating new applications where precise piercing of metal foils with high repeatability are required.
Size limit is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions about the commercial fabrication of Liquidmetal alloys. “How big can we make it?” If you are familiar with typical commercially molded parts from Liquidmetal alloy you may have already observed a common theme; parts a few inches in any dimension and typically thin walled sections. The questions about size typically arise when engineers and designers become aware of the mechanical properties of Liquidmetal alloys: twice the strength of steel, high hardness, corrosion resistance, lustrous as-molded finishes, and high elasticity, among others. It’s not surprising that alloys with similar mechanical properties would be desired for high-performance structural applications such as aircraft bodies, I-beams, bridges, and car bodies. This post aims to help consumers understand the uses and clarify a few limitations of Liquidmetal alloys.
Michael Ashby, a professor from Cambridge, England, has developed strategy for the selection of particular materials for a specific application, a process called Materials Selection for Mechanical Design. In this method, all material properties are plotted against one another on axes displaying different mechanical properties (strength vs. toughness or cost vs. density, for example).
The difference in microstructure between Liquidmetal alloy and other materials may be the most underappreciated difference between Liquidmetal alloy components and products manufactured with other techniques such as metal injection molding (MIM) or additive manufacturing (AKA “3D Printing”).
If you have studied our website or have researched “bulk metallic glass”, you have likely seen an illustration of randomly distributed circles against a white background representing the liquid-like microstructure of Liquidmetal alloys. It is this random atomic structure that fundamentally enables the material properties and process advantages of our alloys. For more background and a history of bulk metallic glasses, please download our Liquidmetal whitepaper.
Why Liquidmetal? A Liquidmetal case is nearly indestructible, has a beautiful as-cast mirror finish, and is highly resistant to scratches and corrosion. Each case produced from Liquidmetal has exactly the same shape, allowing parts to fit together precisely. In addition, a Liquidmetal case can be opened and closed thousands of times without the slightest deformation, even when subject to extreme force. The same is true for clamps, whether used as part of a case design or other device. A Liquidmetal clamp will hold with the same force after thousands of uses.
While metallic glass has existed for decades, the majority of people became aware of its revolutionary properties when it was introduced as a product by Liquidmetal Technologies. Many people have seen our popular ”bouncing ball” demonstration on Youtube, where ball bearings dropped on plates of steel and titanium stop bouncing after a few seconds, while the ball on a plate of Liquidmetal seems to bounce well over a minute.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used for imaging soft tissue in clinical and pre-clinical medicine for many reasons. Not only does MRI provide excellent contrast between various tissue types, but it does not require the use of ionizing radiation such as x-rays (CT Scanners) or gamma-rays (PET scanners). The theory of MRI is based on the interaction of subatomic particles with magnetic fields in a process called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), which describes how atomic nuclei with a quantum property called ‘spin’ precess in a magnetic field the same way that a gyroscope or a spinning-top precesses in the earth’s gravitational field (if you’re not familiar with gyroscope precession, watch this video).
For this reason, the primary component of an MRI scanner is a very powerful magnet, which generates a very strong magnetic field (typically 1.5-3 Tesla, or about 3,000 times the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field) where the object is being imaged, and also in the region surrounding the magnet.
You may have been reading about recent developments in metals technology from a diverse range of sources. Many of the exotic metal alloys being described are actually the same material being referred to by different names. For example, Liquidmetal Alloys, amorphous metal and metallic glass are basically synonyms for the same new class of metals which exhibit a non-crystalline atomic structure.