There are many manufacturing methods and materials available to designers of metal components today. The processes each offer different benefits but are never without trade-offs. Similarly, different materials allow for a wide range of performance characteristics, but not without a certain cost.
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.
Sporting arms components face a unique set of challenges and requirements because of the complexity and nature of the equipment. Market demands typically incorporate weight, durability, customization, and precision as areas for improvement. Manufacturers often face cost or technology restrictions when considering which of these technology improvements they will incorporate into a part. This case study outlines how Liquidmetal technology could overcome many trade-offs manufacturers must make when designing and producing a sporting arms component.
With Liquidmetal alloys – what you mold is what you get. This means custom designs like laser etching, hand engravings, or CNC machined markings can be molded into the part with remarkable precision. A part normally hand engraved can now be replicated thousands of times, with only one engraving on the mold cavity surface.
Engineers face an extra challenge when designing and manufacturing metal parts for marine applications. The harsh oceanic environment wears on equipment with the corrosive nature of salt, along with other unforgiving natural elements. SCUBA equipment must not only withstand these elements, but also perform at a high-level throughout the life of the product. Because of this challenging environment, it can be difficult to find a material that is corrosion resistant, economical, durable, and lightweight.
With all the above factors in mind, this case study will dive into Liquidmetal alloys’ potential performance in SCUBA equipment – specifically the regulator system. Regulator systems require significant durability, precision, low weight, and has improved in recent years with the integration of titanium alloys. Titanium regulator components have allowed manufacturers to develop SCUBA equipment that is more durable and significantly lighter than previous materials, two critical attributes. Liquidmetal amorphous alloys outperform titanium in almost every specification; including strength, hardness, and density.
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:
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).
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.
In the parts industry there are mechanical parts (brackets, frames, mounts, housings, etc.) which drive product performance, and cosmetic parts (bezels, cases, trim, grilles, etc.) which drive product appeal.
Often, a part is required which attempts to fulfil both these functions, but with limitations in one area or the other. Cosmetic materials such as brass, silver, gold, and platinum do not typically have extraordinary strength, stiffness, hardness or wear resistance. On the other hand, widely used engineering materials such as titanium, steel, and copper alloys are difficult to make appealing to the eye without expensive coatings or paint which are themselves subject to scratching, flaking, and oxidizing.
There is a secret to designing an explosive device that penetrates heavy armor. More than a hundred years ago designers discovered a munitions device is more powerful when the explosive material is pressed into a concave shape on the open end of the casing, creating a cavity. When detonated, at just the right distance from the target, the force of a shaped charge can penetrate the thickest armor. When the cavity is covered by a copper or glass liner, the force from the explosive is much stronger. While in use for decades, the properties of this phenomenon were not fully understood. Pioneering work from the world-renowned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory now allows the properties of the supersonic jet that escapes from lined shaped charges upon detonation to be accurately modeled. Detonation forces the liner to collapse inwardly with tremendous force, projecting a tightly focused jet of liner material with enormous energy.