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US-Israeli joint research project investigates new magnesium alloys

02 March 2011

Thixomat Technologies and Israeli company Dead Sea Magnesium have undertaken a two-year joint research and development programme focused on the creation of new magnesium alloys with improved performance and processability for a range of end-use markets including automotive, aerospace, military, biomedical, and sporting goods. The $1 million project has received financial support from the Israel-U. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

The project is aimed at developing advanced cost-effective magnesium alloys that are suitable for Thixomat’s  Thixomolding injection moulding process, which converts magnesium alloys into precision parts, and the company’s proprietary nanoMAG Thixomolding Thermal Mechanical Process (TTMP) manufacturing system.

New magnesium alloys for the Thixomolding process - a novel one-step process that produces net or near-net shape parts to tight tolerance with limited secondary operations - will include materials with improved processability for thin-wall electronic packaging for digital cameras, cell phones, and computers. Also under consideration is a replacement for AM60 magnesium alloy for structural applications that require enhanced toughness and ductility for steering wheel columns, instrument panel components, and bicycle frames. Lastly, the project will examine new high-temperature products (175C-200C) which provide greater processability than die-cast aluminum for demanding automotive under hood and engine/transmission applications.

The joint development effort will also capitalise on the nanoMAG TTMP process which produces magnesium sheet with 200% higher strength and improved toughness over conventional magnesium, while also providing the strength of carbon steel sheet at one-fourth the weight. The patent-pending process features isotropic fine-grained strengthening which permits low-volume manufacturing for special applications at a competitive cost. Under evaluation are new tailor-made magnesium alloys that provide higher strength and toughness than conventional alloys such as AZ91 and AZ61 for military and aerospace applications. Work is also under way to develop unique chemistries for biomedical applications.

New magnesium alloys have already been developed and are being tested and evaluated in limited quantities by a wide range of manufacturers and end users in the military, aerospace, orthopedic, and biomedical markets. 

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