What will magnesium metal be used for?

As the eighth most abundant metal in the universe and one of the lightest and most pliable metals used in alloy die casting and machining, magnesium has a wide range of uses and applications across many different industries.

Although too volatile, corrosive and combustible to be used in engineering applications by itself, pure magnesium can easily be combined with other lightweight metals and moulded into almost any shape or texture. This creates the perfect compound material for thin-wall and complex structure formation and is a popular choice for projects that require intricate work.

Magnesium metal also offers an attractive cost-to-material ratio, making it a great option for use in bulk machining or mass production.

Magnesium alloy products

In terms of mass, magnesium is the lightest alloy commonly cast in modern die moulding. While magnesium can be combined with many different diecast metals, magnesium-aluminium alloy products are used most frequently in both industrial and consumer manufacturing, commonly in the form of AZ91D. Because it offers such a high heat resistance, excellent electrical conductivity, and a 100% reclamation rate when recycled, it’s an incredibly versatile material.

How does die casting work?

Die casting is performed by injecting a liquid, molten magnesium alloy into a fixed mould using a 'cold' injection device, known as a cold chamber. This method takes time, but it means that the magnesium can be mixed with higher melting point metals, such as aluminum and copper, by melting it in a separate furnace. The metal is then combined and injected into a two-sided self-ejecting mould, then left to form and cool.

Diecast materials can be combined, enhanced, or modified after completion to form more complex components through finishing processes or additional fixing or welding.

Common diecast alloy applications

As diecast alloy components are lightweight, aerodynamically smooth and easy to fit to most frames, sports cars frequently incorporate light-alloy components and shell casings. Reducing the weight of cars increases vehicle speed and fuel efficiency, which can lead to a significant reduction in CO2  emissions per vehicle and greatly benefit the environment.

Current advancements in mass-producing aluminum components to replace traditional steel fixtures and fittings could mean an average fuel consumption reduction of  12% per vehicle by 2050 (USAMP estimates).

Diecast alloy is also a popular material for gearboxes and steering wheels, due to the ease of movement and precise tooling that moulding can give when working with smaller finished pieces.

Due to rapidly growing demand for recyclable consumer products and the cheapness and availability of magnesium alloys, more manufacturers are choosing to fit laptops, tablets, phones and televisions with a magnesium alloy protective casing.

Despite its highly conductive qualities, magnesium alloy can form an effective shield against electromagnetic and radio interference, even in an increasingly wireless world.

The insulative properties and lightweight yet durable construction of magnesium alloy materials make it ideal for use in aircraft, missiles, rockets and spacecraft. Diecast magnesium-aluminum alloys are also commonly used to strengthen the flexibility and durability of fuel transfer systems, engine fuel injectors and jet engine casings in commercial passenger aircraft.

The increased focus on 'big booster' targets such as crewed Mars missions by American space exploration agencies may mean that light metal alloy moulded casing and components are a more common choice for spacecraft in the coming years.

Magnesium alloy materials are used in the creation of dissolvable medical fittings and internal braces for surgery. As the metal is naturally found within the human body, pure moulded implants can slowly be assimilated into the body, making bone and organ realignment less invasive and expensive.

Magnesium-aluminum alloys are a popular material choice for the general construction of hard-wearing metallic items such as stepladders, luggage containers, power tools, brackets and bicycles, plus many more.