Increased use of molded specialty metal parts appears very much to be in Apple’s future.
In the biggest buzz, Apple will use metal injection molded hinges in a new ultra-thin MacBook, according to sources citing DigiTimes. The report has the business going to Amphenol, which operates metal injection molding in divisions in China and Korea. Business at the China division increased 20 fold since being acquired by Amphenol in 2005.
Meanwhile, Apple continues to impressively ramp up its intellectual property in the bulk amorphous metals technology it licenses from Liquidmetal. Surface topology is manipulated in one new patent application (20160102391) that tackles issues with the difficult processing technology in high aspect ratio parts such as thin sheets. The lead inventor is Chris Prest, director of product design engineering at Apple.
In another interesting new technology in U.S. Patent 9,302,319, Apple describes a process to use a bulk metallic glass feedstock with a dissimilar sheath. The goal of the inventions seems to be the better preservation of the mechanical properties of Liquidmetal finished parts.