Liquidmetal® Technologies, Inc. has added Metal Injection Moulding capability as part of its expansion into a new 3,800 m2 (41,000 ft2) manufacturing centre in Lake Forest, California, USA. As well as being equipped with a state-of-the-art MIM line, the new facility offers globally unmatched amorphous metal forming capabilities and equipment.
Paul Hauck, one of Liquidmetal’s manufacturing experts and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, told PIM International, “We are excited to be able to offer customers both MIM and amorphous metal technologies, ensuring the right process is applied to the right application. Liquidmetal is also working with EONTEC to establish China sourced tooling through EONTEC’s in-house mould making operation for both metal moulding technologies. The outcome is intended to provide customers with globally competitive mould costs.” Hauck added that, “the decision to go into MIM was an easy one for the company. EONTEC is an established MIM supplier in China and our US engineering and sales staff includes MIM industry veterans.”
With the addition of MIM, Liquidmetal will now be able offer two metal forming technologies from two continents. Working from a clean slate also allowed the company to match its MIM process technology to the needs of the marketplace. Arburg injection moulding machines and automation matched with large scale Elnik debinding and sintering furnaces are used in the company’s first MIM manufacturing line. Liquidmetal plans to use BASF feedstock, but its technology partner EONTEC also has in-house custom compounding capabilities.
The company will offer customers both US and China sourced amorphous metal and MIM production. To simplify the offshoring interests of US customers, Liquidmetal will manage all purchase order transactions and scheduling, including inventory management services with warehousing capacity, through its Lake Forest location.
The new facility is a short drive from the current Liquidmetal manufacturing centre. The company stated that ample floor space is now available for expansion in all primary manufacturing operations; MIM, ENGEL cold-crucible amorphous metal production and EONTEC hot-crucible amorphous metal production. Secondary operations will also grow, providing customers with a greater range of finished-part options; these operations include CNC machining, waterjet cutting, bead blasting, vibratory deburring, heat oxidising, passivation and PVD.
Currently, Liquidmetal has two operational ENGEL amorphous alloy moulding machines. Two EONTEC amorphous alloy moulding machines have just recently been delivered to the new Lake Forest facility. Along with the introduction of complementary EONTEC machine technology, the company has successfully completed several biocompatibility tests including an implant study of LM105 alloy and is introducing new low-cost amorphous alloys developed in cooperation with EONTEC.
“Our engineering and operations teams are working aggressively to qualify lower-cost amorphous alloys, implement new production processes and prepare our new building for move-in this summer. This investment provides us the increased capacity we need to serve customer opportunities and space to grow our business substantially over the next three to five years,” stated Bruce Bromage, Executive Vice President of Engineering & Operations.
In 2016, Liquidmetal signed a cross-licence agreement with EONTEC, a publicly-traded global manufacturer located in China. The agreement has made the two businesses the recognised global leaders in amorphous metals with over 160 combined patents and patents pending. In addition, a stock purchase by the now CEO and Chairman of The Board, Professor Lugee Li, generated $63.4 million for the company. The investment has put the business in a position to grow with customer demand and make other important investments into its future.
The company recently released an updated design guide, version 4.2, covering cold and hot-crucible amorphous metal processing, an expanded alloy offering and new design characteristics. Liquidmetal is also in the process of finalising a new website that will help communicate useful information to engineering and procurement professionals on amorphous metals and Metal Injection Moulding. Liquidmetal plans to host an open house following its move into the new facility.