Material Exploration for Liquidmetal Technologies
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Concept exploration of new material
The Liquidmetal® alloy is a new metal that competes with polymer technologies in a way that was previously difficult for metals. The material, a combination of titanium, beryllium, copper, nickel, and zirconium, is cast by a process that allows surface finish and detail equal or better to that of injection molding. Liquidmetal can achieve a mirror finish, with details formed at a micron level, and its mechanical properties make it a superior spring or an integral (or living) hinge.
New materials, mostly found in technical applications, can be unfamiliar to designers as a source of inspiration. To overcome this hurdle, IDEO explored this material’s unique behaviors, alone and in combination with other materials, in a series of product concepts that could be implemented in the short or long term.
One of the ideas from the explorations is presented above: a phone with a body that folds without a separate hinge. Other concepts included a metal Ziploc-like bag fastener and flexible metal perfume packaging.
Project date: 2003