Thermoplastic Forming of Bulk Metallic Glasses: Procedure and Applications

27 Oct 2022

Since their discovery in the 1960s, metallic glasses have attracted significant attention from science and business due to their distinctive properties, such as high strength, large elastic strain limit, excellent wear and corrosion resistances, and other remarkable engineering properties. 

Among other properties, the capacity of metallic glasses to be produced with thermoplastics such as polymers above the glass transition temperature is considered to be the most useful property. Many people believe that this thermoplastic forming (TPF) capability would ultimately close the gap between the production of metals and polymers. 

The procedure of thermoplastic forming and applications of bulk metallic glasses are discussed further in the blog. 

What are bulk metallic glasses? 

Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) are advanced materials that can be formed into components of intricate surface structures with well-defined geometry and shape on length scales ranging from macro to nano. This property is advantageous because using conventional mechanical machining techniques would be nearly impossible due to their lack of plasticity at room temperature. 

Procedure of Thermoplastic Forming Using Bulk Metallic Glasses

Based on the TPF characteristic, researchers have used a variety of traditional thermoplastic fabrication methods, including hot embossing, blow molding, injection molding, and others, to create a variety of structures and products utilizing BMGs. It is generally acknowledged that one of the most promising areas for the use of BMGs is thermoplastic forming.

Heat treatment is always included in the thermoplastic forming of BMGs. BMGs are metastable substances that tend to change from an amorphous to a crystalline state at specific temperatures. A temperature-time-transformation (TTT) can be used to summarise the development of this trend. 

The TPF process involves material rheology and structure formation kinetics, and since TPF parameters such as stress, temperature, processing time, and strain rate tend to have linked effects on the BMG's formability, it becomes a complex thermodynamic process. 

Therefore, to manage the thermal plastic formability of the supercooled metal liquid and achieve desired forming quality in the TPF of BMGs, it is essential to understand the material flowing characteristic and filling mechanism as well as their association.

Applications of Bulk Metallic Glasses

Currently, bulk metallic glasses are used in industries such as consumer electronics, wearable technology, biomedicine, sports gear, and aerospace/defense. A few of these applications are discussed further in the article: 

1.    Electronics and wearables applications of BMGs: BMGs are employed in phone casings because they take advantage of the beneficial qualities of both metals and glasses, such as flexibility, strength, and durability. These glasses are extremely hard to scratch, dent, or shatter on the surface. They also have "elastic" qualities, which give them the same degree of flexibility as conventional polymers. 

This makes them feasible for gadgets to have buttons that are firmly attached to the case, making it physically impossible for liquids to pass through to the delicate internal components of the devices.

Moreover, due to the growth in demand for smaller consumer electronics products, consumer electronics and wearables are among the most popular uses of bulk metallic glasses.

For instance, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies such as Microsoft and Samsung are touting foldable phones as the next revolutionary technology. It will eventually lead to a demand for bulk metallic glass.

2.    Biomedical applications of BMGs: BMGs hold considerable potential for use in biological fields such as orthopedic surgery, cardiology, and even dental fillers and implants. 

In particular, non-degradable BMGs with combined excellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance, especially those made of zirconium, titanium, and iron, can be used to create biomedical devices such as pacemakers, surgical blades, medical stapling anvils, and minimally invasive surgical devices, as well as biomedical implants such as prostheses, articulating surfaces, and dental implants that must last a long time in the harsh environments of the human body.

However, because biodegradable BMGs gradually break down in the human body after serving their temporary purpose, they have a lot of potential as fracture repair materials such as bone plates, intramedullary needles, and bone screws, as well as cardiovascular stent materials, fillers around dental implants, absorbable sutures, and fillings of bone after cyst/tumor removal in arthroplasty. 

3.    Applications of BMGs in sports gear: Increased usage of bulk metallic glasses in sporting equipment is another driving factor for market growth. For instance, one of the first commercial uses for BMGs was in the golf industry to make golf club heads. The unique mechanical properties of BMGs can increase the coefficient of restitution at the impact between a golf club and a ball.

4.    Electrical applications of BMGs: Bulk metallic glasses are used to provide precise standard resistance, computer memories, magnetic resistance sensors, tape recorder heads, and the cores of high-power transformers due to their high electrical resistance. The BMGs are thus appropriate for use in electrical, electronic, and sporting equipment because of their distinctive mechanical and electrical qualities.


In the electrical and electronics sector, BMGs have a wide range of different uses, from robust mobile phones to personal electronic gadgets such as MP3 players and personal digital assistants. The main element accelerating the total market growth is the booming product consumption in the electrical and electronics sector, as well as the sports industries.

According to the BIS research report, the global bulk metallic glass market is projected to reach $246.3 million by 2031 from $47.6 million in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 17.9% during the forecast period 2022-2031. 

Interested to know more about the growing technologies in your industry vertical? Get the latest market studies and insights from BIS Research. Connect with us at  [email protected] to learn and understand more.


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