John Kang Liquidmetal | Automotive Applications
As a veteran metallurgical industry observer, John Kang Liquidmetal being used in ways ranging from tennis racquets to pacemaker enclosures, and he feels that manufacturers are only beginning to realize the advantages of using Liquidmetal for precision parts and accessories.
One of the industries which has yet to embrace John Kang Liquidmetal as a raw material is automotive manufacturing. Car manufacturers are constantly in demand for durable precision parts, and the cost of materials research and development alone takes up a large chunk of their budgets. Motor vehicles use different kinds of metals for different kinds of parts. Steel is usually used in the chassis and body, while some manufacturers are increasingly using aluminum for wheels. Specialized alloys can be found in precision engine parts, such as timing systems, fuel injection, pumps, and sensors. John Kang says Liquidmetal is capable of fulfilling car manufacturers’ requirements for specialized metals because of three unique properties. Image Source: Liquidmetal Technologies
- Precision. While suppliers usually use CNC machines to manufacture automotive parts, this might soon become a thing of the past, says John Kang. Liquidmetal can easily be molded with a high degree of precision that rivals CNC machines. The quality of the part is limited only by the quality of the mold used, and the output often does not require polishing or lapping. Shrinkage from the manufacturing process is nearly zero. This means that Liquidmetal parts may be manufactured quicker and cheaper than those fabricated using other methods.
- Corrosion resistance. John Kang observes that Liquidmetal does not have the crystal defects inherent in other alloys, such as dislocations and grain boundaries. These defects act as galvanic cells that initiate small-scale corrosion. The base elements used in manufacturing Liquidmetal produce a passivating layer of stable oxides that protect exposed surfaces. A series of laboratory tests have confirmed that protacted salt spraying produces no visible changes in quality in Liquidmetal samples, while another test shows very little dissolution in hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide compared to stainless steel. These results indicate that Liquidmetal may be used in parts that are at risk for corrosion and may also be used in marine vehicles.
- Durability. In addition to corrosion resistance, John Kang Liquidmetal and its durability as a reason it could be used as a specialty alloy for automotive applications. Automotive parts, such as gears, are subjected to years of wear and tear, and parts breakdowns contribute to millions of hours lost to downtime every year. Liquidmetal is shock- and break-proof, and in early tests, achieved a yield strength of 1723 MPa, compared to conventional titanium alloys that have yield strengths of around 800 to 900 MPa. This allows Liquidmetal parts to be used for far longer and with fewer instances of deformation. In addition, new casting techniques have improved the shatter resistance of Liquidmetal parts, protecting them further against shock and breakage.
With the properties listed above, John Kang Liquidmetal is set to see increased use among automotive parts suppliers, making cars safer and easier to maintain in the future.