Canadian Plastics

Magnesium makes inroads on plastic

Magnesium has emerged as the only serious challenge to plastic as the material of choice in a number of high-tech electronic and automotive applications. How serious is the challenge? Since 1990, the ...

May 1, 2002   Canadian Plastics



Magnesium has emerged as the only serious challenge to plastic as the material of choice in a number of high-tech electronic and automotive applications. How serious is the challenge? Since 1990, the amount of magnesium used in the typical vehicle has more than doubled, from 3 lb. to more than 8 lb., according to a paper released at the recent Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. As well, many electronics manufacturers are now specifying cell phone and computer laptop housings in magnesium. The development is startling considering only a few years ago the housings of these and other electronic gadgets were exclusively the domain of plastic.

The growth in magnesium use is being driven by rapid technical advances in magnesium alloys and processing techniques, especially Thixmolding, the injection molding of magnesium and other thixotropic (semi-solid) metals. In Thixomolding, a modified injection molding machine is used to produce lightweight net shaped parts, eliminating secondary machining operations and producing parts with reduced porosity and tighter tolerances than traditional metal die casting methods. The technology is licensed by Thixomat Inc. of Ann Arbor, MI. Husky Injection Molding Machines and JSW are exclusively licensed to build Thixomolding machines.

The Third International Thixomolding Magnesium Conference (www.thixomat.com) will be held at Toronto’s Wyndham Bristol Place hotel from May 22 to 24. The conference, which is co-sponsored by Thixomat and Husky, will feature the latest in Thixomolding process and product applications in automotive, consumer electronics and other industries. It will also be the occasion for the introduction of Husky’s new 500-ton Thixomolding machine built on Husky’s Hylectric platform.

OEMs are attracted by Thixomolding’s ability to make thinner wall sections with greater strength, says Thixomat chairman Raymond Decker, noting that a typical magnesium part is about 2.4 times stronger than the same part made of ABS. There are now more than 40 Thixomolding licensees operating 145 machines in eight countries.


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