before getting to US8,485,245 …

In preparing a post on US8,485,245, i.e. the ‘245 patent, I went along a trail of articles that popped up just after its publication on July 16th.

An article from Mashable stood out from the pack for how quickly it took a reader down the wrong road.  So before posting something on the ’245 patent it is worth looking at the article, and address some of its shortcomings.

The first sentence of the article appears fine … or is it? The link embedded in “liquid metal” takes one to another article, presenting research coming out of North Carolina State University.  Without independently pursuing this work, the research looks at a Ga-In alloy i.e. a metal, that is liquid at room temperature.  Further, the alloy apparently develops a skin of some sort (oxide?) upon exposure to air, giving it some mechanical stability after forming.  This is all fine, but is it relevant?

Difficulties in the article start cropping up in the second sentence.  It is here that the reader is told of a “new patent” awarded to Apple which “hints at the possibility of introducing liquid metals to the mobile market”.  Straight away it is apparent the author is confusing a liquid metal and Liquidmetal (TM).  This is not uncommon.  The Ga-In alloy may well be in a liquid state, but it is not a Liquidmetal.  I wrote about this same transgression with regard to Microsoft’s Surface almost exactly one year ago.  Thus, the work at North Carolina state does not appear relevant to the story.

The second paragraph also starts off on unstable ground.  Yes, 3D printing is getting quite a bit of buzz lately, but I do not know what it has to do with the new patent.  In fact the ‘245 patent discloses a distinctly 2D fabrication process for Bulk Metallic Glass (BMG).

I could spend more time correcting other points, but I do not think that will move us forward.  In the end, one has to be aware of the difference between a state of matter and a very particular metal with a one-word name before extrapolating to an endpoint.