Growing Liquidmetal

From Bruce Bromage, Chief Operating Officer

 

Liquidmetal is a great technology that provides distinctive value to customers. But the bar is high to be qualified as a volume supplier to top-tier medical and automotive companies. Their suppliers must have a solid financial footing, scalable production facilities, certified quality management systems, qualified material suppliers, engineering support for DFM, FEA and flow modeling, and demonstrated volume production capability. Liquidmetal meets these requirements.

The bar is also a bit higher to field products when working with a new manufacturing technology. Our development takes a familiar path. Material properties are well characterized using standardized testing, allowing comparisons to conventional materials. Customers conduct additional testing for their specific part designs and applications, such as corrosion, biocompatibility, strength, fatigue, and more. Typically, a series of prototypes are produced to test and refine design concepts before volume production. The bar will become easier to clear as products in our pipeline are fielded, and adoption may accelerate.

As is true for all technologies, our rate of growth will also be determined by our ability to manage the cost of producing parts aggressively. We are continuously refining our production processes to improve efficiency and yields. We are working closely with material suppliers to reduce their costs while maintaining quality and availability. Additionally, new processing capabilities have been added to address markets with lower price and performance requirements.

Here is a brief update on our progress:

Sales

We are nearing the completion of our 90-day sales plan. You may have noticed our direct email marketing to generate interest in our introductory webinars. The results are promising. We are planting seeds with influencers that will likely grow into future Amorphous Metal Molding (AMM) part designs.

The most effective action has been our increased support for Manufacturing Sales Representatives (MSRs), joining them more frequently on customer visits and more aggressively pricing RFQs.

Production

We support three systems: Medical grade AMM, Industrial grade AMM and Metal Injection Molding (MIM). Our medical grade ENGEL systems have been qualified by a broad range of customers, demonstrating exceptional part consistency and rigorous production processes that support material-batch and casting-lot control. Plans are in place to expand production capacity for these systems in the near future, tied to production forecasts.

Our Industrial Grade EONTEC systems are producing parts with higher levels of automation than original configurations in China. Customers are currently evaluating parts molded on these new systems, both from our factory and imported from EON.

MIM is an established technology with ready support. The facility power upgrade that is necessary for volume operation is progressing.

Materials

We use two alloy systems: LM105 for Medical Grade operations and 106c for Industrial Grade operations. We are focusing on further cost reductions for LM105, quality improvements for 106c, and recycling programs for both alloys.

Recent customer announcements

• Zyris, Inc. recently displayed their new Isolite dental device that includes two Liquidmetal components. This product is an exciting milestone for us as the application demonstrates our ability to mold precision, fluid shapes with medical-grade finishes in a biocompatible material. Look for additional information about this project on our website soon.

Martin Guitar and Strings (C.F. Martin & Co.®) has placed a new production order for Bridge Pins. Martin has previously worked with us to produce a series of prototypes with limited production and has showcased Liquidmetal bridge pins in signature guitars. Professional musicians and laboratory tests confirm that our Liquidmetal bridge pins have exceptional acoustic properties.

In conclusion, we are progressing well toward our goal to commercialize amorphous metal technology to fuel high growth and volume manufacturing.