updated 11:55 am EST, Wed March 7, 2012
Tech could already be in next-gen iPad
Liquidmetal is in the process of shipping commercial parts to "several of its customers world-wide," according to a press release. The customers are unidentified, but Liquidmetal says that it in fact began delivering parts in December, and has more shipments scheduled into the future. Production capabilities should ramp up over coming months.
The timing of the announcement may not be coincidental. Apple is debuting a new iPad later today, and has a special relationship with Liquidmetal, having bought "perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, [and] exclusive" rights to the company's patents. The latter firm specializes in amorphous alloys, which could potentially be used to provide stronger and lighter metal in the new iPad. Apple has reportedly experimented with Liquidmetal technology in the past, for instance trying it out in an ejector pin for the iPhone 3G.
The company may be trying to further reduce the weight of iPads, making them easier to hold single-handed. The technology might alternately be necessary to compensate for size, since the new iPad is expected to be about 1mm thicker than the iPad 2.