Apple grabbed the exclusive rights this week for amorphous, non-crystalline metal alloys owned by Liquidmetal Technologies as part of what is presumably a plan to make even stronger, lighter electronic devices. The alloys are impressive–harder than titanium or aluminum alloys, scratch and corrosion-resistant, and ultra-light, according to AppleInsider. But Apple hardly owns the futuristic metal market. Below, some of our favorite innovative metal objects and alloys.
Inflatable metal chair, anyone? Designed by architect Oskar Zieta and materials scientist Philipp Dohmen, the chair is built with thin sheet metal that has been inflated with tubes releasing high-pressure air. The pair have also built an inflatable metal stool. Zieta and Dohmen are also working on large-scale installations.
Industrial Origami‘s patented manufacturing process combines sheet metal and plastic to produce origami-like designs that cut down on the amount of material required to make sheet metal-containing devices. For example, an oven made with Industrial Origami’s process uses just four components (a traditional oven requires seven), and an entire car chassis can be constructed from 36 parts.
This self-healing metal from the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Germany can repair itself using a 5-micrometers thick coating that resembles self-healing paint. When a metal surface is scratched, the coating releases a polymer that can fill in the cracks. In the future, the technology could be used in everything from self-lubricating ball bearings to scent-releasing airplane fuselage (used as a warning sign for mechanical issues).
ARPA-E’s smart metal alloy is designed to replace traditional refrigerants in air conditioners and refrigeration systems. It may not sound sexy, but the “thermally elastic” alloy could be up to 175% more efficient than current refrigeration technology, according to ScienceDaily. And considering how reliant we all are on air-conditioning in these sickeningly hot days of summer, that’s a big deal.