It has been long expected that the iWatch would be released in 2014 with several reports believing that it would drop in the latter half of the year as the company works to address technical challenges.
So just what kind of technical challenges are we talking about specifically?
If you asked DigiTimes one of these technical issues involves surface finish treatments for the body of the device, with both Apple and Qualcomm searching for ways to improve the look of chassis parts made using metal injection molding (MIM) methods.
Several wearable devices such as Apple’s iWatch and Qualcomm’s Toq are reportedly seeing less than 50% yield rates due to difficulties applying surface treatments on their metal injection molded (MIM) chassis, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. [...]
MIM-made components used to be used inside products, but as the components are now becoming part of the external design, surface treatments have become an important process for the look of products.
MacRumors reports “metal injection molding may sound very similar to what Apple is trying to achieve with Liquidmetal alloys, but there are distinct differences between the technologies, with MIM involving powdered metals that are combined with binder materials and placed into molds before being heated to very high temperatures to solidify while Liquidmetal alloys are heated to a molten state before being formed using molds and allowed to cool.”
Despite the fact that Liquidmetal Technologies argues that its alloys offer a lot of advantages over MIM, it remains an underdeveloped technology that will require several more years before it will be used to produce major Apple product parts.