Broad potential from medical technology to aerospaceThe great interest among the participants could be seen above all in the lively discussions after the presentations and around the injection moulding machine in the technology centre. As a sample component, small flags with a very delicate and complex three-dimensional structure were produced there. The live presentation gave an impressive demonstration of the efficiency of the method and the high precision of the injection moulding machine, as well as the excellent surface quality of the products.
The Panel of Experts gave conference participants the opportunity to discuss their product ideas and questions in a small, confidential circle of experts from Engel, Liquidmetal Technologies and Materion. Some companies brought sample components and CAD drawings for this purpose. "For some products, the discussions led to some very promising approaches," says Rasinger. "We will be starting the first projects shortly."
The Panel of Experts confirmed once again that there will be a broad field of applications from medical technology to electronics, automotive to aerospace and even sports equipment. "Liquidmetal offers great potential in particular for components subject to strong mechanical strain with high demands on component design and surface quality," emphasizes Christoph Lhota, Vice President Engel medical, thinking for example of the long and sometimes very delicate instruments for keyhole surgery. Further application examples that were discussed in Stuttgart include functional components for electrical devices and decoration elements for automotive interiors.
A particularly interesting issue is the combinability of Liquidmetal with other metals or plastics in a multi-component process. "At our technology centre in California, we have already fabricated sample multi-component parts with Liquidmetal and another metal," says Thomas Steipp, CEO at Liquidmetal Technologies, giving the conference participants a preview of some of the coming steps in development. "Until now, this has been executed as a transfer procedure, but an integrated process is also conceivable."
Contract manufacturing capacities soon also available in EuropeThe technology centre at Liquidmetal Technologies has long stood for development, but in 2014, Liquidmetal began installing capacity for contract manufacturing. It now has its ISO 9001:2008 certification and is manufacturing parts for customers. "It is not necessary for those who would like to get started with the new technology to first invest in a manufacturing cell of their own," says Steipp. "We are prepared to supply prototype and production parts now from our Manufacturing Center of Excellence in California. Additionally, it is our goal to also establish contract manufacturing capacities in Europe." All that is needed for getting started is a license that is conferred by Liquidmetal Technologies. Apple and Swatch are already among the first licensees.
After the great success of the Liquidmetal Forum, Engel, Liquidmetal Technologies and Materion are planning further joint events.