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GLOBAL WATCH MISSION REPORT

MAG TECH 1: Magnesium


alloys and processing
technologies for lightweight
transport applications
a mission to Europe

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2004


Global Watch Missions
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UK experts to visit leading overseas technology
organisations to learn vital lessons about innovation
and its implementation of benefit to entire industries
and individual organisations.

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thinking and action, missions offer unique
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and abroad. We invest heavily in This report represents the findings of a mission
world-class science and technology. organised by Faraday Advance with the support of
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MAG TECH 1: Magnesium
alloys and processing
technologies for
lightweight transport
applications
a mission to Europe

REPORT OF A DTI GLOBAL WATCH MISSION


SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2004

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments 3 4 Developments in processing 25


and manufacture of components
Foreword 4 from wrought magnesium
4.1 Extruded magnesium profiles 25
Executive summary 5 4.1.1 Take-Off (aerospace) project 27
4.1.2 VW 1-litre car 28
1 Introduction 6 4.1.3 Formability 28
1.1 Background to mission 6 4.2 Sheet magnesium 28
4.2.1 Future development 31
2 Objectives of mission 8 requirements
2.1 Specific objectives 8 4.3 Forged magnesium 32
2.2 Benefit to the UK 8
2.3 The mission 8 5 Joining technologies and 33
2.4 The mission team 9 integration
5.1 Laser welding 35
3 Novel casting technologies 10 5.2 Friction stir welding (FSW) 36
3.1 LKR new rheocasting (NRC) 12 5.3 Mechanical joining 36
process 5.4 Resistance spot welding (RSW) 37
3.2 RWTH Aachen rheo-container 13 5.5 Co-extrusion 37
process (RCP) 5.6 Mechanical fasteners 38
3.3 RWTH Aachen rheocasting 14
using cooling channel 6 Magnesium surface treatments 40
3.4 RWTH Aachen thixomoulding 14 6.1 Mission objectives 41
of magnesium (surface treatments)
3.5 RWTH Aachen thixocasting of 14 6.2 NANOMAG 41
magnesium 6.2.1 PAPVD 43
3.6 RWTH Aachen investment 16 6.2.2 PECVD 43
casting of magnesium 6.2.3 Sol-gel 43
3.7 Gravity casting 16 6.2.4 Keronite (PEO) 43
3.8 Sand casting 16 6.3 Highlights 44
3.9 BCAST rheo-diecasting (RDC) 17 6.3.1 Industrial perspective 44
process 6.3.2 Academic and RTO perspective 45
3.10 Casting alloy development 18 6.3.3 Perceived technical/economic 47
3.11 High-pressure die-casting alloys 20 barriers
and key development drivers 6.3.4 Current and future research 47
3.12 Gravity casting alloy 21 priorities
development 6.4 Conclusions 48
3.13 Other casting technology 21
research
3.14 Summary 23

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

7 Potential future applications 49 The mission team would like to extend their
and techno-economic issues deepest thanks to the host organisations for
7.1 Introduction 49 their hospitality, openness and support,
7.2 Magnesium supply and demand 49 without which the mission and this report
in western Europe would not have been possible.
7.2.1 Magnesium supply 49
7.2.2 Magnesium demand in western 50 We would also like to acknowledge the
Europe support of the DTI Global Watch Service in
7.2.3 Magnesium demand in the UK 51 both the organisation and funding of the
7.3 Wrought alloys 51 mission and its dissemination through the
7.4 Automotive applications 51 seminar event. The team would also like to
7.4.1 Powertrain 51 thank numerous individuals at the DTI, their
7.4.2 Structural castings 52 agents and also the various consulates for
7.4.3 Other castings 52 work behind the scenes.
7.4.4 Wrought applications 52
7.4.5 Beyond automotive applications 52 A large thanks is also owed to Frank Rott,
7.5 Conclusions 54 Martin Kemp, Craig Wallbank and Charlotte
Leiper of the DTI Global Watch Service for
8 R&D funding and 55 their support to the success of this mission.
infrastructure
8.1 EU research projects 55
8.2 Additional projects 58
8.3 Summary and 59
recommendations

9 Industry perceptions and 61


training and education

10 General conclusions 62
10.1 Research 62
10.2 Industry misconceptions 62

11 Key findings 63

12 Recommendations and 64
follow-up actions

Appendices
A Host organisation profiles 65
B Mission team details 69
C List of exhibits 75
D Glossary 77

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

FOREWORD

The new millennium has seen major growth It is clear from the report that magnesium
in the use of magnesium alloys as structural alloys are no longer viewed as niche or
materials in automotive and other applications. exotic materials in Europe. In order for
Spearheaded by the developments of UK manufacturing to compete on
corrosion-resistant alloys and improvements lightweighting, recyclability and functionality,
in high-pressure die-casting (HPDC) designers need to be aware of the exciting
technologies, automotive applications in opportunities magnesium alloys present as a
Europe have shown double-digit growth for real economic alternative to steel, aluminium
the last 10 years. and plastic for todays lightweight products.

The forefront for this growth has been the


German automotive industry, led by the
VW Passat gearbox first produced in 1996.
The developments are continuing with the
revolutionary 6-cylinder magnesium engine
block from BMW launched in 2004 and Chris Dagger
the new DaimlerChrysler 7-speed Divisional Managing
gearbox housing. Director
Magnesium Elektron Ltd
In addition to the automotive sector,
the new developments in magnesium
technology are having a major impact on
areas as diverse as sports goods,
aerospace and even biomedical prostheses.

The MAG TECH 1 mission has highlighted


the extensive research and development
(R&D) being carried out by European
universities and research bodies, with major
support funding from national governments
and the European Union. The mission has
clearly shown that although the United
Kingdom has some world-class players in
magnesium technology, it is liable to fall
behind Europe if steps are not taken to
support R&D within both the UKs academic
system and industrial base.

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Magnesium is now becoming the material The report provides an overview of the
of choice for many lightweight transport mission, which encompassed technical
component applications, demonstrated by discussions, reviews and observations from
continued, steady market growth. In the meetings held with key European
alloyed form, magnesium is the lightest organisations involved in the research,
structural metal, thereby providing development and application of magnesium.
considerable opportunity to improve fuel The aim of this mission was to capture a
economy and reduce harmful emissions broad insight into the general trends and
produced in powering transport when issues associated with magnesium
substituted for a heavier aluminium or technology and to identify key opportunities
steel design. for the UK to improve its competitiveness in
this field in the form of key findings and
The purpose of this DTI Global Watch recommendations. During the visit, a wealth
Mission, coordinated by Faraday Advance, of information and material was gathered
was to evaluate the European state-of-the-art from the organisations and experts visited,
in terms of magnesium alloys and providing a valuable source for university
technologies for improved component researchers, small or medium enterprises
manufacture and in-service performance. (SMEs), industrial producers, users and
It is understood that considerable research technology providers. This material is captured
and development (R&D) activities involving in this report.
magnesium have taken and continue to
take place in Europe, outside the UK. Much
of this R&D has been heavily funded through
the European Commission (EC) and through
national programmes.

This mission, which took place during 27


September 1 October 2004, focused on
identifying essential information, including:

future trends and technology drivers


technology barriers
enabling technologies or developments
required to move towards greater levels of
magnesium deployment in the
manufacture of automotive products

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

1 INTRODUCTION

In the manufacture of transport, weight The key interest in magnesium for


reduction through the use of lightweight structural and non-structural component
materials remains a very successful and applications is in its potential for weight
simple means of improving fuel economy reduction. In the alloyed form, magnesium
and reducing harmful emissions. High-purity is the lightest of all the structural metals
magnesium alloys are now sophisticated and can provide a host of additional
materials that provide significant component benefits depending upon
opportunities for weight reduction and product form.
therefore real scope to achieve these
environmental goals. It is also important to note the impact that
other industry sectors may have in
Increases in magnesium alloys for developing and increasing the demand for
automotive applications have driven the magnesium components, which will
substantial increase in magnesium world contribute to lowering magnesium alloy
demand; in particular, magnesium alloys for prices and improving product performance.
making die-cast components. According to The potential of magnesium to the UK
Australian Magnesium Corp Ltd (AMC), economy and automotive manufacturing
die-cast magnesium automotive components alone is quite staggering. The UK produces
account for ~150,000 t/y of magnesium some 1.8 million passenger vehicles per
alloys1 and dominate the application of annum, with a considerable number of
magnesium die-castings. This substantial and these typically ~50% becoming export
sustained increase in magnesium products. The introduction of more
consumption has led to significant changes magnesium components that are produced
in the magnesium manufacturing industry in the UK would therefore appear to provide
and has encouraged suppliers to develop a significant opportunity for the UK to meet
their processes and alloys and identify future emissions targets, whilst reserving
potential future applications of magnesium natural resources and enhancing the
for both cast and wrought products. competitiveness of the UK.

According to the International Magnesium 1.1 Background to mission


Association (IMA), world consumption of
magnesium has seen a 30% increase over Outside the UK, there has been significant
the last eight years, and has been forecast research activity in the field of magnesium
to continue to grow at a rate of 3% annually. alloys and technologies for automotive
This has encouraged primary metal applications. The research is being
producers to invest in new capital conducted to address the barriers to
equipment and plant to meet the sustained greater levels of magnesium deployment.
growth in demand. In 1999, world The principal countries involved in the
magnesium consumption was some technical visits included:
320,000 t, with expectations that it may rise
to some 500,000 t by 2005.
1 Magnesium Automotive Potential, Australian Magnesium Corp Ltd Fact Sheet 11, December 2000, ABN 51 010 441 666:
www.austmg.com/documents/11_Auto%20Potentail.pdf

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Germany centre for large magnesium These countries were identified as having a
R&D network of institutes, significant impetus on magnesium
magnesium component producers and developments through internal company
vehicle manufacturers R&D and involvement in government-funded
Austria through the Austrian Research or EU research programmes. From these
Centres (ARC) countries, key organisations were identified
Italy home to the largest European to hold bilateral technical discussions relating
magnesium die-casting facility (Meridian to the developments and trends in
Magnesium Products of Italy srl MPI) magnesium alloy and technology and its
and a major user of magnesium products usage in product applications.
(Fiat)

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

2 OBJECTIVES OF MISSION

High-purity magnesium alloys are now Identify and discuss technology barriers and
sophisticated materials that provide key enabling technologies necessary to
opportunities for significant weight reduction move towards greater levels of exploitation,
of components and therefore real scope to in terms of both cast and wrought
deliver against the environmental drivers, magnesium component applications
particularly emissions. Engage in specific technical evaluations
and discussions regarding key applied
The high-level aim of this mission was to research and envisaged future trends
evaluate the state-of-the-art in magnesium Understand national market perceptions
alloys and technologies for improved and trends for magnesium usage
component manufacture and in-service Discuss national, EC-funded and
performance for the automotive industry. commercial research programmes, and
The mission was focused on identifying key identify any synergies with the UK and
information on the future trends and drivers, opportunities for collaboration
technology barriers and the enabling Explore bilateral secondment
technologies or developments required to opportunities between UK organisations
move towards greater levels of magnesium and hosts
deployment in the manufacture of
automotive products. 2.2 Benefit to the UK

It is strongly believed that the mission will The dissemination of this information to UK
in the medium term provide a suitable companies, research organisations and
vehicle to promote the initiation of funding agencies will enable them to identify
appropriate R&D projects or programmes in technology gaps, and focus development
the UK and in the longer term result in programmes, with the potential to transfer
the increased deployment of magnesium the knowledge and information to different
components displaying higher levels of UK industry sectors.
technology in the automotive supply chain
with good opportunities to transfer this 2.3 The mission
technology into other sectors.
The mission took place during
2.1 Specific objectives 27 September 1 October 2004, visiting
the many organisations identified as centres
Specific objectives of the mission were to: of excellence in the R&D or manufacture of
magnesium-related products or
Discuss issues relating to the design, components. The mission team had the
alloy selection, manufacturing technique, opportunity to discuss and present R&D
coating and finishing of magnesium work in the field of magnesium alloys and
components technology during visits to the following
host organisations:

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

ARC LKR, Ranshofen (Austria) Whilst the mission team met with the major
BMW, Munich (Germany) organisations mentioned above, these
RWTH, Aachen (Germany) represent only a small proportion of the
GKSS, Geesthacht (Germany) total magnesium research and production
IFAM, Bremen (Germany) efforts in Europe, outside the UK. However,
MPI, Verres (Italy) the selection of organisations provided a
very strong illustration of the breadth and
During the visit at RWTH Aachen, the meeting depth of the research activity and
was jointly attended by Ford Research Centre; development trends.
and at GKSS, by Salzgitter Magnesium-
Technologie GmbH (SZMT). IFAM staged a 2.4 The mission team
networking event attended by Oskar Frech
GmbH + Co KG (producer of die-casting A select number of individuals were chosen
equipment), HDO (manufacturer of as mission delegates, representing the UK
magnesium die-castings) and Hannover (see Exhibit 2.1). A key factor in the
University, providing a unique opportunity to selection was involvement in the supply
present and discuss developments in Europe chain or potential supply chain, which would
and the UK. This format provided an excellent be a critical factor in the success of follow-
means by which the mission team could meet up activities. Individuals were selected from
several organisations that would otherwise a mixture of backgrounds to provide a well-
have been logistically impossible. Details of balanced team in order to achieve the
the mission hosts are available in Appendix A. greatest contribution. Details of the mission
At the visit to MPI, CRF also attended. team are available in Appendix B.

Exhibit 2.1 Mission team at BMW (FIZ), Munich

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

3 NOVEL CASTING TECHNOLOGIES

Currently, the majority of components that (AlSi17) low-pressure die-casting (LDPC) for
are made from magnesium alloys are the cylinder linings. Through this technology,
produced using conventional hot-chamber BMW is able to achieve lightest 6-cylinder
and cold-chamber forms of high-pressure engine in its class, weighing a mere 161 kg.
die-casting (HPDC) processes, creating
parts that may have very complex Die-casting is an exceptionally efficient
geometries, exhibiting multifunctional means of producing magnesium
designs. Structural HPDC parts are components but it does have some
manufactured using the cold-chamber limitations due to the aggressive nature of
process (see Exhibit 3.1), as this is better the process, which induces high levels of
suited to achieving larger components whilst turbulence at high velocity during metal
still retaining the necessary mechanical injection, resulting from the high pressure.
properties for these applications. This high level of turbulence combined with
entrapped air results in porosity, which is
A recent, major achievement in Europe in detrimental to the key mechanical properties
HPDC is the series production of the of tensile strength and elongation. The
magnesium composite crankcase entrapped porosity will also impact upon
manufactured by BMW in Germany. The other key performance attributes necessary
crankcase is manufactured from a high- for automotive applications, including
pressure die-casting of AJ62 magnesium durability and pressure tightness.
alloy, and incorporates an aluminium alloy

Die Hydraulic press

Shot sleeve

Molten shot Ram

Die cavity

Exhibit 3.1 HPDC cold-chamber process

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

The current applications of magnesium in The hot-chamber process is suitable for


the automotive industry are predominantly comparatively small and thin-walled
produced using the HPDC process. components, and higher volume outputs,
However, HPDC components are currently whilst the cold-chamber process is for large
limited to functional and secondary structural and thick-walled components.
applications rather than primary structural
applications. Further increase in magnesium The HPDC process is characterised by high
applications requires the development of volume, high efficiency, and low production
novel casting technologies. cost. However, the quality of components
manufactured by the HPDC process is
Objectives of the mission included: limited by the presence of a substantial
amount of porosity, which not only excludes
Assess the current status of the the application of HPDC components in
development of magnesium casting high-safety and airtight systems, but also
technologies denies the opportunity for further property
Assess the current UK status in the enhancement by heat treatment. It is clear
European context that further increase in magnesium
Make recommendation for future application in the transport industry will
development in the UK require a major advance in processing
technologies. The new processes need to be
New casting technologies for use with capable of producing components of high
magnesium alloys have been constantly integrity and improved performance while
pursued in R&D. The main driver and focus being comparable with the HPDC process in
of process and alloy development has been terms of production cost and efficiency.
to achieve improved mechanical
performance, in terms of tensile strength, Porosity due to turbulent mould filling could
elongation and pressure tightness which can be reduced or even eliminated if the
be achieved with lower or zero levels of viscosity of the melt could be increased to
porosity. In doing so, the improved reduce the Reynolds number sufficiently so
mechanical performance provides the that trapped air is minimised. This is the
opportunity for components to feature in concept of semi-solid metal (SSM)
new applications. processing. Depending on the way the
semi-solid slurry is achieved, SSM
The current applications of magnesium in the processing techniques can be divided into
automotive industry constitute almost 100% two categories:
cast components without any significant
contribution from the wrought products. Thixo
The majority of the cast components are Rheo
achieved by the HPDC process, which can be
pressure die-cast using either the hot-
chamber or cold-chamber process, as
illustrated schematically in Exhibit 3.1.

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

In the thixocasting process, nondendritic The general understanding is that


alloys preprocessed usually by rheocasting has many advantages over
electromagnetic stirring are reheated to the thixocasting due to lower production cost,
semi-solid region prior to casting by the better component quality and ease of
HPDC process. As a processing technique, scaling up. In the rheocasting process, semi-
thixocasting does improve component solid slurry is produced by controlled cooling
integrity and performance, but proves to be of a liquid alloy into its semi-solid region,
cost intensive, lacking in flexibility, and prior to shaping into components.
difficult to scale-up. After 30 years of
extensive R&D, thixocasting is currently 3.1 LKR new rheocasting
experiencing a decline in acceptance as a (NRC) process
viable production technology.
The currently most popular rheocasting
Another SSM process under R&D in Europe process in Europe is the so-called new
is thixomoulding (eg at GKSS and RWTH rheocasting (NRC) process, as schematically
Aachen), which was originally developed by illustrated in Exhibit 3.2. In the NRC process,
Dow Chemicals and is currently marketed a given dose of liquid alloy with low
by Thixomat Inc in the USA. In the superheat is poured into a steel cup for a
thixomoulding process, magnesium chips controlled cooling into the semi-solid region
are fed into a single-screw injection- and followed by a short period of induction
moulding machine and converted into semi- heating before component production by a
solid slurry which is then injection-moulded squeeze or die-casting process.
into components, somewhat similar to
injection moulding of polymeric materials. The NRC process is currently under
The thixomoulding process is currently intensive R&D in both LKR in Austria and
experiencing some degree of success, Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) in Italy and is
particularly in Asia, for casing applications in supported by the EU FP6 research
the electronics industry. However, this programme RHEOLIGHT. Compared with
process is much less popular in Europe, and thixocasting, the NRC process is a lower
only a few machines are available in cost process due to the use of liquid alloy as
research laboratories. the feedstock, enabling a greater degree of
process control.

Pouring of melt
Induction heating

Air cooling

Solidification nuclei Controlled cooling, solidification and growth of nuclei

Die casting or squeeze casting


Exhibit 3.2 New rheocasting (NRC) process

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Exhibit 3.3 Mission team at the Foundry Institute, RWTH Aachen

Although the NRC process remains at The mission team had a tour of RWTH
laboratory scale, trials have shown strong Aachens impressive foundry facilities (see
indications that economically it would Exhibit 3.3), including a quick review of the
achieve component production with no equipment and practical research, of which a
material on-cost, similar cycle times and significant level was for company sponsors.
therefore similar part costs to those
produced by HPDC. However, it is envisaged 3.2 RWTH Aachen rheo-container
that the NRC process will involve slightly process (RCP)
higher capital equipment investment.
Due to the issues and limitations of
LKR was of the opinion that the NRC thixomoulding and thixocasting, and in order
process it has been investigating displays to minimise the complexity of the
excellent opportunity for new markets due rheocasting process, RWTH Aachen has
to its high strength. The NRC process will been investigating a new rheocasting
be evaluated in the EUs RHEOLIGHT concept the so-called rheo-container
research programme. process (RCP) that involves a melt being
poured into a container under protective gas
Other rheocasting processes under R&D cover. The melt is poured at a temperature
include the rheo-container process (RCP) as close to the liquidus as possible to avoid
developed by the Foundry Institute at rapid rates of cooling. After a satisfactory
Aachen University of Technology (RWTH temperature is reached, the semi-solid slurry
Aachen), and the cooling slope process is inserted into a conventional HPDC shot
originally developed in Japan also under sleeve and finally formed (see Exhibit 3.4).
investigation by the Foundry Institute.
Both these processes still remain at the RWTH Aachen claimed that the RCP will be
laboratory stage. more reproducible. However, there appear to
be issues in transferring the slurry into the

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Pouring of melt

Protective cover gas

Ceramic container
Semi-solid slurry

TMELT ~ T LIQUIDUS

Solidification nuclei Controlled cooling, solidification


and growth of nuclei

Die casting or squeeze casting

Exhibit 3.4 Rheo-container process (RCP)

shot sleeve. The transfer is likely to cause delivering reproducible results. The spherical
cooling and be detrimental to the slurry in or globular grain morphology achieved using
terms of its homogeneity, and uniform the cooling channel is illustrated in Exhibit 3.6.
distribution of fine solidification nuclei.
Cooling on transfer will result in a coarse 3.4 RWTH Aachen thixomoulding
grain size and a greater level of non- of magnesium
uniformity. This will translate into potential
porosity, and inferior mechanical properties. Whilst thixomoulding of magnesium
The solution currently does not appear to components is an expensive means of
have been developed. producing large components, trials at RWTH
Aachen into alloy mixing have established
3.3 RWTH Aachen rheocasting that it was possible to improve upon creep
using cooling channel properties through selective mixtures, and
therefore tailor the degree of alloy mixing to
RWTH Aachen has carried out some fairly achieve the required properties.
rudimentary trials to generate the required
conditions for rheocasting, which has been 3.5 RWTH Aachen thixocasting
achieved by pouring a melt into a ceramic of magnesium
cooling channel and subsequently into a
container to develop a semi-solid slurry The outline process for thixocasting is
(see Exhibit 3.5). illustrated schematically in Exhibit 3.7.

Whilst the apparatus used for these research


trials was relatively crude, it demonstrated
that rheocasting conditions could be achieved,
but using such a method for volume
production would create difficulties in

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

200 m

Exhibit 3.6 Cooling channel rheocasting grain


morphology

Exhibit 3.5 Rheocasting using cooling channel

Smelting Cooling Billet cutting Billet reheating

Ram

Exhibit 3.7 Thixocasting process

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

3.6 RWTH Aachen investment


casting of magnesium

Due to reactions with conventional silicon


dioxide (SiO2) shell systems, RWTH Aachen
had been researching organic binder
systems. So far, the initial trials had been
successful, with the binder demonstrating
good temperature resistance and gas
permeability combined with resistance to
reactivity with the melt. The investment
Exhibit 3.8 Thixocasting facility at the Foundry Institute
casting route for magnesium alloys appears
The Foundry Institute has been active in to show promise for high- and low-volume
trials with the thixocasting process; components in the absence of high capital-
however, the process is currently investment costs but where demanding,
uneconomic due to the control required for complex geometries were desired.
the heating and homogenisation of the Limitations of course remain, including the
thixocasting feedstock material. The Foundry absence of intricate coring methods
Institutes thixocasting machine is shown in available with other techniques. Other
Exhibit 3.8. research undertaken at the Foundry Institute
includes infiltration of metal foams, which
Aside of SSM processing technologies, other may be produced by inserting the foam into
casting technologies for magnesium alloys the die cavity and then filling the holes by
have been heavily researched in Europe. means of infiltrating with semi-solid slurry or
These include low-pressure die-casting otherwise, thereby producing very complex
(LPDC) for magnesium-alloy wheels, squeeze hybrid composite metallic materials (see
casting for transmission mounting, and sand Exhibit 3.9).
casting for engine support as featured in the
FP6 MG-CHASSIS programme coordinated by 3.7 Gravity casting
Fraunhofer IFAM in Germany. Other casting
processes under development include Gravity casting provides a very good
magnesium upcasting to replace the current means of producing many complex castings
continuous direct-chill (DC) casting process that are demanding in terms of both
(Hannover University), investment casting performance and weight. This method
(Aachen) and magnesium foaming process also provides a low-investment route for
(Hannover, Aachen and IFAM). An interesting single-piece or small-lot production that is
application of magnesium castings and foams ideal for many aerospace castings.
is for medical applications where it may
potentially find application for absorbable 3.8 Sand casting
implants for the repair of bone fractures
(Hannover University). Aachen was GKSS has been investigating issues with
researching cellular type structural casting, sand casting, particularly the issue of melt
displaying similarities to bone structure, oxidation or of its alloying elements.
produced by investment casting. A range of casting alloys has been
These could find application in bio-medics, investigated, including AM100, AZ91,
but also potentially in structural applications AZ81, AZ61, AZ63 and rare-earth alloys.
where more-efficient natural structures The solutions to reduce moisture and
replace man-made designs. atmospheric reactions include:

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Exhibit 3.9 Magnesium-MMC infiltrated foam

Sulphur and boron acid mixing action of the twin-screw extruder to


Ammonia salt and silicofluoride the task of in-situ creation of SSM slurry
Boron hydrogen acid and its salt solutions with fine and spherical solid particles,
Diethylene glycol followed by direct shaping of the SSM slurry
Beryllium into a near-net-shape component using the
existing cold-chamber die-casting process.
3.9 BCAST rheo-diecasting
(RDC) process The RDC equipment consists of three basic
functional units: a twin-screw slurry maker, a
Putting the UK into the context of European standard cold-chamber HPDC machine and a
development of novel magnesium casting central control unit. The twin-screw slurry
technologies, we find that the UK strength maker has a pair of co-rotating, fully
lies at the heart of technological innovation. intermeshing and self-wiping screws rotating
In recent years, the Brunel Centre for inside a barrel. The screws have specially
Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST) designed profiles to achieve high shear rate
at Brunel University has developed a novel and high intensity of turbulence. During the
semi-solid casting process, rheo-diecasting RDC process, a predetermined dose of liquid
(RDC), Exhibit 3.10. The RDC process is an alloy from the melting furnace is fed into the
innovative one-step SSM processing slurry maker. The liquid alloy is rapidly cooled
technique to manufacture near-net-shape to the SSM processing temperature while
components of high integrity directly from being mechanically sheared by the screws,
liquid alloys. The process innovatively adapts converting the liquid alloy into semi-solid
the well-established high-shear dispersive slurry, with fine and spherical particles of a

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Twin-screw extruder

Inlet

High-speed
injection unit

Heated shot
sleeve

Exhibit 3.10 Rheo-diecasting (RDC) process

given volume fraction dictated by the barrel Compared with other SSM processing
temperature. The semi-solid slurry is then techniques, the RDC process is characterised
transferred to the shot chamber of the HPDC by high and consistent component quality,
machine for component shaping. After six large processing window, versatile to alloy
years intensive R&D, the RDC process is compositions, and low overall production
now ready for industrial exploitation, cost. It is anticipated that the RDC process
supported by the DTI Technology Programme. will become a major production technology
for light metal components.
The main advantages of the RDC process
over the conventional HPDC process can be 3.10 Casting alloy development
summarised as follows:
A number of magnesium alloy systems have
Fine and uniform microstructure been developed for different forms of
throughout the entire component casting to maximise both castability and in-
Close-to-zero porosity (well below service performance. Four key alloy systems
0.5 vol%), thus fully heat-treatable are available for die-casting, and the outline
Well-dispersed oxide particles with fine advantages and disadvantages of these are
size and spherical morphology shown in Exhibit 3.11. Particular performance
Much improved mechanical properties, requirements include improved creep
particularly ductility resistance, improved ductility, and improved
Capable of processing wrought alloys and specific strength, and some of the
other alloys difficult to cast associated alloys developed are shown in
Longer die life, lower scrap rate, shorter Exhibit 3.12.
cycle time and higher materials yield
Lower overall component production cost
Weldable

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ASTM alloy designation AZ AM AS AE


Key alloying elements Al, Zn Al Al, Si rare earth

Advantages Good strength Improved ductility Improved strength Good high-temperature


at room over AZ series and creep strength and creep
temperature performance due to resistance due to
Good castability Mg2Si precipitates Mg-RE precipitates

Disadvantages Low thermal Limited room Limited castability Limited castability


strength temperature
Low ductility properties
Limited castability

Exhibit 3.11 ASTM magnesium die-casting alloy systems and relative performance

Over the last 10 years there has been 8-10 years or even more. Therefore, many of
significant R&D for various HPDC alloys, and the alloys patented over the last decade
the evidence of this is demonstrated by the may find themselves in commercial
number of alloy/alloy-modification patents application over the coming years, and many
filed. The time lapse between patenting an of these are being evaluated in EU applied
alloy to commercial application can be some research programmes.

Alloy development
Creep resistance
(monolithic)

Specific strength Ductility


Light, high strength Spray forming Mg-Sc-X-Y
(>300C)
TMT, MgLi
Mg-Y-RE- Zr KEY
WE54 WE43
Mg-Li-X
(200-300C)
HPDC
Mg-Ag-RE-Zr
Mg-Si Mg-Si QE22 EQ21
Mg-Al-Ca(-RE) Mg-Al-Ca (-RE) (max 200-250C)
GRAVITY
Mg-Li-X Mg-Al-Ca-X
Mg-RE-Zn-Mn
Mg-Zn-Cu (max 200C)
Mg-Al-RE WROUGHT
AE42
(max 175C)
Mg-Al-Zn Mg-Al-Si
AS 21
(max 150C) Creep resistance
Mg-Al-Zn (heterogeneous)
Mg-Al-Mn AM60 AZ91
Fibre and hybrid CTE
(max 135C)
reinforced Mg-alloys E-modulus
Magnesium Creep

Exhibit 3.12 Performance drivers for magnesium alloy development

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3.11 High-pressure die-casting alloys The highly creep-resistant rare-earth alloy


and key development drivers systems, such as WE42 that had been
specially developed, remain too expensive for
Initial magnesium high-pressure die-castings the automotive market. Thus extensive
have found themselves in relatively benign international research efforts have set about
applications where weight reduction was the establishing lower-cost, creep-resistant alloys
major factor. Following these, applications displaying suitable castability, in terms of
which involved increased levels of both good die-filling characteristics and the
functionality were taken up. Subsequently, absence of hot cracking. Generally, the most
components that made considerable use of creep-resistant rare-earth alloys display
the load-bearing capability of magnesium poorer castability, and are therefore less
alloys have been fielded. acceptable for high-volume series production.
In close cooperation, Volkswagen (VW) and
A significant area for potential future growth the Magnesium Research Institute (MRI)
of magnesium high-pressure die-castings is have developed two castable creep-resistant
in powertrain and new drivetrain applications, alloys, MRI-153M and MRI-230D. These
the latter particularly in higher operating alloys possess great potential for lightweight,
temperature automatic transmissions, high-performance transmission housings and
following a degree of saturation in the crankcases as they possess good residual
application of structural castings. New strength at temperature combined with low
applications are heavily dependent upon the creep-strain.
development of new and improved alloys,
and this is particularly true of the structural A major recent introduction in the field of
castings, which are now dominantly automatic drivetrain applications is the
produced from the AM series alloys, which Mercedes-Benz 7G-Tronic, 7-speed
display greater levels of elongation than automatic transmission housing. The die-
AZ91. In terms of powertrain and automatic casting makes use of a magnesium alloy
transmission housing applications, the based upon the AS31 (Al-Si) system.
operating temperature has been the greatest
barrier to growth. The reason for this has The major challenges for powertrain
been the creep behaviour of common components still remain in developing
magnesium alloys. capabilities for crankcases. In these
applications, the issue is not only one of
The common magnesium alloys display creep resistance but also one of stiffness,
inferior creep load characteristics in and magnesiums lower modulus also
comparison with aluminium alloy creates additional challenges to overcome.
counterparts. Above ~100C, the common However, development trials have taken
magnesium alloy AZ91 begins to lose its place, and Australian Magnesium Corp Ltd
strength, which has eliminated magnesium (AMC) and its partners have developed and
from these types of application to date as patented a new creep-resistant alloy AMC-
no economical alloy provided adequate SC1 which has been specifically designed
creep performance. More importantly, for the production of lightweight engine
AZ91D displays particularly high levels of blocks using sand-casting technology.
creep strain under load. The major issue for The alloy has already been used to build a
creep deformation is a reduction in the prototype 3-cylinder engine for a VW Lupo,
clamping load of the bolts for a weighing just 14 kg 25% lighter than the
transmission housing, which if relaxed current aluminium production version. AVL
allows transmission fluid to escape. designed the new magnesium engine,

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

which catered for its different mechanical that form, inhibiting creep deformation.
and acoustic properties. Further to this, The success of these alloys for these
BMW Group has now put into production applications is also attributable to the casting
magnesium HPDC crankcases in its V6 process, that is more tolerant to defects,
engines, which make use of aluminium namely entrapped porosity.
cylinder linings. This application is a world
first on the basis of a water-cooled high- 3.13 Other casting
performance engine. The actual cooling is technology research
restricted to the aluminium cylinder liners.
The BMW HPDC magnesium crankcase In addition to the development of magnesium
uses the Noranda-developed AJ62 alloy. alloys and new casting technologies for
Similar developments are expected. components, new environmentally friendly
production methods and means of
Magnesium Elektron in the UK has been improving billet and ingot have been sought
heavily involved in alloy development, and researched.
particularly with Manchester University,
and also supplies the AJ62 alloy to BMW A major issue that faces magnesium foundries
for the magnesium crankcase. is the requirement to change to more
environmentally friendly and inert systems to
3.12 Gravity casting protect the magnesium melt. Consequently,
alloy development there has been much focus on using CO2 or
other systems, as opposed to SF6 and SO2.
Whilst there has been significant impetus to However, improvements in the gases not only
develop alloys for die-casting, gravity casting requires just a simple change in the cover gas
has assisted in providing the foundation on medium used, but also requires development
which more recent creep-resistant alloys in how it is administered. In particular, cooling
have been developed. High-performance down the melt surface to avoid evaporation,
magnesium gravity castings for aerospace and also controlling the displacement of
applications see much greater operational oxygen by means of a CO2 snow shower
temperatures and have driven the (see Exhibit 3.13). Other means of melt
development of automotive creep-resistant protection under investigation include the use
alloys. The success of the rare-earth alloys is of a layer of steel balls covering the top of a
largely owed to the complex precipitates magnesium melt.

CO2- snow laboratory furnace Covering of molten magnesium with


CO2-snow
Exhibit 3.13 CO2-snow magnesium melt cover gas development

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Discharge direction

Solidified magnesium

Mould

Liquid magnesium

Exhibit 3.14 Magnesium up-caster used in EUROMAGUPCASTER

Exhibit 3.15 Magnesium foam production by low-pressure die-casting (LPDC)

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New methods for improving component Germany is a world leader in the


quality through improved alloy casting have development of metal foams, and is actively
been investigated, including twin-roll casting pursuing improvements in the technology,
for sheet and up-casting of billet. The up- performance and potential application.
casting of magnesium is being conducted as The aim is to improve the production
part of the EU programme called efficiency and costs associated with the
EUROMAGUPCASTER, the aims of which manufacture of magnesium foams,
are to obtain improvements over the vertical particularly as the current means of foam
downward casting (VDC) method, including: production are too expensive for volume
production. Therefore, Hannover has been
No risk of MMW (molten-metal-water) investigating the use of low-pressure die-
and H2 explosions in secondary casting (LPDC), which may significantly
cooling zone reduce the costs and also repeatability
No contact of molten magnesium of metal foams (see Exhibit 3.15). Metal
to atmosphere foams may have significant capability in
No protection gas needed for energy-absorbing crash-relevant structures.
casting process Such improvements in cost may therefore
Self-regulating: melt-level control in the lead to introduction in automotive
mould is not required applications. Additionally, it should be noted
Billet surface free of cracks and that IFAM have recently acquired an HPDC
other defects facility from Oscar Frech GmbH, and are
Easy installation proactively exerting effort to create a
well-equipped foundry research centre
Initially, this project included developments covering all aspects of casting, from sand to
to engineer a prototype to produce 90-mm high-pressure techniques.
billets at Hannover Universitys IW (Institut
fr Werkstoffkunde), and subsequently two In terms of UK activity, in addition to RDC
pilot devices for 90-mm and 203-mm billets. technology, the UK is also pioneering the
During the EU project it was planned that investment casting of magnesium alloys,
processing conditions for the following alloys with this research being conducted at
would be developed: Castings Technology International (CTI).
However, the funding for casting R&D in the
AZ31 UK is considerably smaller than that made
AZ61 available in Germany, which is reflected in
AZ80 the degree of activity in this field.
AZ91
ZK60 3.14 Summary
WE43
The general finding from the mission is that
The basics of this technology are obvious, in the future there will be a continuous
in that the material is cast in the upward increase in applications of cast magnesium
direction (see Exhibit 3.14). Other key components in the automotive industry and
elements of the research scope included in other industrial sectors, such as
the EUROMAGUPCASTER project include the electronics, healthcare, and sports and
investigation of costs for industrial usage and leisure. Such applications were heavily
evaluation of wear on the moulding system, supported by both alloy and process
which is a critical factor in maintaining developments to encourage growth for the
consistency in the process and also costs. magnesium industry.

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In Europe, research into novel casting The rheo-diecasting (RDC) process


technologies is well supported and well developed in the UK does have advantages
coordinated, using both internal government- over the other casting technologies under
funded and EC framework programmes, development in Europe, such as high and
such as MG-CHASSIS, RHEOLIGHT and MG- consistent component quality, large
ENGINE. The drive for most of these has processing window, versatile to alloy
been the realisation of component or compositions, and low overall production
system performance improvements. These cost; and with technology that appears to be
programmes constructively take the casting suitable to scale-up.
technology through to the evaluation of
demonstrator components and applications, R&D on magnesium alloy casting is
linking state-of-the-art alloys. Consequently, considerably underfunded in the UK,
there is an abundance of technologies and particularly when compared to the activities
development alloys, enabling early market in Germany. There is great need for a
entry of a number of exciting high- coordinated magnesium flagship project to
performance products. The UK has very little realise the full potential of the UK for
participation in such programmes, and the casting technology innovation and to
application of magnesium technology increase the critical mass for participation in
reflects this. the EU programme.

The general understanding is that


rheocasting processes have some major
advantages over thixocasting and
thixomoulding processes in terms of
production cost, component quality,
production control, and flexibility.

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4 DEVELOPMENTS IN PROCESSING AND MANUFACTURE


OF COMPONENTS FROM WROUGHT MAGNESIUM

Casting of magnesium is a very economic to the complexity of the components.


process, particularly die-casting, and suitable The body structure and closures contribute
for mass-volume component production, ~40% of the mass of a vehicle. The greatest
but even at low volumes it also provides opportunity for wrought magnesium is in
substantial opportunity to integrate one or replacing components within the primary
more parts together and produce with structure. However, opportunities for interior
complex geometries. However, due to trim and closures also exist.
residual porosity, wrought magnesium
product forms often provide more favourable As mentioned, semi-finished magnesium
mechanical properties in terms of strength products only account for some 1% of total
and elongation. There are four key forms of consumption of magnesium, which in turn
wrought magnesium: magnesium sheet and relates to limitations in supply availability.
plate, extruded profile, or forged billet.
4.1 Extruded magnesium profiles
Unlike magnesium castings, wrought
magnesium has historically received Critical success factors in the growth of the
considerably less R&D for component market for magnesium extrusions are the
applications, as it represents considerably development of new alloys, an optimised
less market share in terms of total global billet casting process to produce an
magnesium consumption, typically less improved starting product for extruding, and
than 1-2%. Consequently, there are very lower extrusion costs. The greatest issue in
few commercially available alloys, with the processing extruded magnesium is in the
main alloy AZ31 dominating production. exit speed with which it may be produced.
Those alloys commercially available have This in turn influences the price of the
also not necessarily been developed with semi-finished product, which to date has
specific product applications in mind. been excessive. VW has indicated that to
increase the use of extruded magnesium in
For the automotive industry, the major vehicle manufacture, a target price of the
opportunities for wrought magnesium are in extruded product should be of the order of
body and chassis applications, and to a 5-8/kg in comparison with the current
considerably lesser extent powertrain, due price of 10-20/kg.

Exhibit 4.1
Formability Hot
Hot Process window for indirect
limits
Formability cracking
Extrusion speed

Cracking extrusion of AZ31


Limits

Safe
Safe
processing
Processing

Billet Temperature
Billet temperature Hot cracking

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Extrusion press
Billet Die

Extruded profile

Ram

Seal Seal
Hydrostatic medium

Exhibit 4.2 Hydrostatic extrusion process

The major factor in lowering the cost is of grain refinement, typically 50-200 m,
related to the extrusion speed. Currently, and improved microstructural uniformity.
the exit speed for magnesium AZ31 is These are key factors that influence the
20-30 m/min. The extrusion speed is limited processing mechanics. In particular,
by the onset of hot cracking and formability microstructural uniformity is particularly poor
(see Exhibit 4.1). Therefore, a major EU in magnesium billet.
research project, MAGNEXTRUSCO, was
initiated to engage the issue of extrusion The type of extrusion process is particularly
speed and also post-processed properties for important, as are the key process variables
forming and in-service performance. of temperature, extrusion ratio and extrusion
The research project was to investigate the speed. The aim in controlling these
capability of the hydrostatic extrusion process parameters is to enable the highest
for magnesium alloys (see Exhibit 4.2) in throughput possible whilst meeting the
order to achieve greater extrusion speeds, required mechanical properties. This can only
fundamentally necessary to improve the be achieved by producing homogenous
process economics to compete with microstructures that are stable to
aluminium alloys, which typically possess recrystallisation dynamics during the
extrusion speeds of some 50-100 m/min. extrusion process. GKSS has been heavily
involved in the characterisation of the
Hydrostatic extrusion speeds for magnesium microstructural and mechanical properties
alloys of the order of 200 m/min are possible and deformation mechanisms of the
but will also necessitate alloy development extruded product. Much of this work has
to widen the safe processing window. been part of the MAGNEXTRUSCO
The key requirements here are to develop programme, but also in support of the
extrusion billet material with greater levels VW 1-litre lightweight concept car.

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Original AZ31- AZ31 AZ31 AZ31


AW-6061 Substitution Variant 1 Variant 2 hybrid
t (A1) 1.6 mm 1.6 mm 2.0 mm 1.8 mm 1.6 mm

t (A2) 1.6 mm 1.6 mm 2.0 mm 3.1 mm 1.6 mm

t (A2) 1.6 mm 1.6 mm 2.0 mm 1.6 mm 1.6 mm

E*1 100% 68% 82% 95% >100%

-m 0% 35% 20% 15% 20%

Exhibit 4.3 LKR Take-Off project: magnesium PSU rail designs investigated

4.1.1 Take-Off (aerospace) project The orthotropic behaviour of magnesium


extruded profiles, which relates to the
LKR conducted a research study called twinning and texture, provided the main
Take-Off, which investigated the opportunity challenges in the programme. However, with
for substitution of a 1.6-mm thick 6XXX the development of new alloy systems and
series aluminium alloy extrusion with the hydrostatic extrusion process, it is
magnesium AZ31 extrusion, whilst believe that there is significant scope to
maintaining equal stiffness and a weight accelerate the design process due to greater
saving of 15%. The application in this case levels of confidence in the material
was for passenger stowage unit (PSU) rails, properties and behaviour.
located underneath the stowage lockers
(see Exhibit 4.3). Following on from these investigations, LKR
has also been reviewing opportunities for a
During this investigation, LKR studied, 1.0-mm thick PSU rail for the A380 Airbus.
evaluated and refined the product design,
and performed finite element analysis (FEA) In October 2004, LKR was embarking upon
of the extrusion process. This investigation a further programme to qualify the suitability
followed through to produce prototype of magnesium components for aerospace
AZ31 extrusions, on which LKR performed applications, in collaboration with other
mechanical and microstructural regional light metals and aerospace
characterisations. It was demonstrated companies. The programme was called
that, through a new design concept, InnMag and formed Phase 2 of Take-Off.
both the weight and stiffness targets
could be achieved.

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4.1.2 VW 1-litre car could not be changed, and this purely related
to physics, ie that magnesium has a
The VW 1-litre car is so named because of hexagonally close-packed structure. Initial
its fuel consumption rating of just 1 litre per trials using warm hydroforming indicated that
100 km (equivalent to 282 mpg). Stolfig, the this technique could be used to reshape
German design company contracted to magnesium profiles. Bending of tubular
produce the car, engaged heavily in drawing magnesium profiles is achievable, and
on the key competencies at LKR to assist in heating during bending assists considerably.
the development of the magnesium The necessity to use heating for product
construction, in particular the joining. shaping creates a potential barrier and may
preclude shaped magnesium profiles from
some applications, particularly those in which
the cost outweighs performance needs.

The outcome of MAGNEXTRUSCO also


Al-profile
Al-sheet pointed toward preferred profile geometries
Mg-profile
Mg-sheet
and applications, including:
Mg-casting + machined
MG-casting + part machined
CFK Simple sections with limited cross section
Simple 2D and 3D shapes
Exhibit 4.4 VW 1-litre car, incorporating wrought and Potential for non-structural and structural
cast magnesium applications (non-crash relevant parts)

Whilst cost is the major issue for extrusions, The programme finds that the application of
providing major technical and development magnesium extrusions should not contain
challenges, the other key issue with crash energy-absorbing components. The
extruded profiles and also sheet magnesium reason relates to the materials crystal
relates to the inherent lack of formability of structure, and lack of available slip systems
magnesium alloys at ambient temperature. to achieve high degrees of deformation.
This issue cascades particularly into Despite this, there is significant scope for
mechanical joining methods such as other structural and non-structural
clinching and self-pierce riveting (SPR) that components manufactured from magnesium
may be selected to join structures together, extrusions. However, there is a preference
especially hybrid structures consisting of for producing components from simple
different materials. sections, in order to minimise associated
manufacturing costs.
4.1.3 Formability
4.2 Sheet magnesium
In addition to issues relating to extrusion
speed, extruded profiles also require heat Currently, the availability of sheet magnesium
treatment to assist in reshaping into the final is very limited, with only a few pilot-size
product form. plants. Many of these are not producing
products specifically for the automotive
According to GKSS, the outcome from the market, much of the end use being for
MAGNEXTRUSCO programme was positive, electrolytic cells or precision machined parts.
in that the hydrostatic extrusion process Additionally, there are only a few available
produced alloys under enhanced extrusion alloys, and therefore a narrow selection of
speeds. However, much of the formability strength and performance options.

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Salzgitter Magnesium-Technologie GmbH


(SZMT) presented a number of potential
market applications for sheet magnesium
and heavy plate, including:
Stress (MPa)

AEROSPACE
Cockpit carriers
AZ31-H24 RD
AZ31-H24 TD Doors
AA6016-T4 RD Non-pressurised parts
AA6016-T4 RD Secondary structural parts
Seat components
Strain (%) Interior components
Exhibit 4.5 Anisotropy of magnesium sheet AZ31 Covers, boxes and brackets

To make matters worse, there is also very AUTOMOTIVE


little supply chain existence or capability to Closures
produce the final components. Therefore, Structural parts
GKSS seized the opportunity to be engaged Exterior panels
in a full process chain development Crash relevant parts
programme for magnesium sheet,
extending from alloy development to CONSUMER GOODS
applications. This was in the form of ULM, Leisure
a BMBF project, involving VW, Salzgitter Electrical equipment (laptop, mobile
Magnesium-Technologie GmbH (SZMT), phone and camera casings)
AHC Oberflache, LZH, IFUM IW Hannover, Structural parts
Eckold and GKSS. Exterior panels
Crash relevant parts
Sheet magnesium displays strong levels of
anisotropy considerably greater than that of SZMT supplies sheet magnesium between
aluminium. This phenomenon relates to the 1-4 mm thick and heavy plate 20-100 mm
fact that magnesium has a hexagonally thick. The latter may be used for lightweight,
close-packed structure and texture shape of precision-machined products. SZMT
the basal plane, whereby activation of basal supplies AZ31 sheet magnesium in the
slip in the sheet rolling direction is preferred soft-annealed O condition, the typical
to the transverse direction. Evidence of this mechanical properties of which are
is displayed in AZ31 tensile tests that show displayed in Exhibit 4.6.
the rolling direction to have a lower yield and
tensile strength (see Exhibit 4.5).
Sheet quality Soft-annealed O condition
Interestingly, magnesium sheet has some Yield strength, Rp0.2 130-160 MPa
unique mechanical properties, which also
Tensile strength, Rm 230-260 MPa
mean that it displays very good dent
resistance. The characteristic is attributable Uniform elongation, Ag 15-17%
to the very low modulus of elasticity Total elongation, A80 17-22%
combined with its reasonably high yield
Thickness tolerance 0.07 mm
strength. Therefore, magnesium sheet offers
good potential for exterior panels that may Exhibit 4.6 Typical mechanical properties of
require good dent performance. magnesium sheet AZ31

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The small difference between uniform and Interestingly, VW had established that the
total elongation is a strong characteristic of hot-stamping method could also be achieved
the failure behaviour of magnesium, be it using low-cost tooling methods suitable for
in sheet or extruded product form. For low-volume applications. Special plastic or
magnesium alloys, the failure takes place electroplated tools could replace more costly
at maximum load without substantial steel or grey iron materials. Difficulties with
further deformation. The reason for this is the hemming were found, due to the
that the material fails in shear, and critically reduced formability of the components.
it is very different from sheet aluminium
and strip steel. Therefore, there are some Collaborative trials between IFUM Hannover
very different requirements in terms of the and SZMT into hot stamping have been
way failure of wrought magnesium is conducted on some prototype bonnet parts
modelled in crash or other structural (see Exhibit 4.7) which have successfully
performance models. This is an area where demonstrated this method to be a viable,
development is required, and Ford have reproducible technique for the production of
been researching. components from sheet magnesium.

SZMT produces standard AZ31 sheet and


heavy plate but also speciality alloys. To
complement these, and to support the
growth and development of their products,
SZMT will provide product development
engineering support and produce prototypes
for potential customers.
Exhibit 4.7 Hot-stamped magnesium prototype parts
(SZMT and IFUM Hannover)
In terms of manufacturing sheet
magnesium into parts, new or revised
technologies are necessary. These include Trials conducted by VW have found that
those used in forming, joining, and in whilst conventional sheet magnesium forms
component surface treatment. The key well at between 200-250C, it can be formed
forming processes available include: at temperatures as low as 150C. At
elevated temperature, magnesium
Hot bending demonstrates a drawing ratio of 2.6
Hot stamping compared with 2.5 and 2.2 for deep-drawing
Superplastic forming (SPF) aluminium and steels, respectively. The
Warm hydroforming drawing ratio is a statement of formability.
The greater the value of drawing ratio, the
In trials conducted by VW, hot-stamped greater the material formability. Therefore,
closure parts were successfully produced, hot stamping exhibits good performance
and a number of special lubricants potential for limited-volume manufacture.
evaluated. However, from these trials a
number of issues remained to be Superplastic forming of magnesium also
resolved, including: shows promise. However, it is likely to
remain a viable production process for very-
Drawing-fluid deposits left on drawn low-volume, luxury and performance niche
component vehicles seeking performance
Smoke enhancements through weight reduction.
Flammability (slithers) Again, the current sheet magnesium prices

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Exhibit 4.8
without optimised
Influence of lubrication on rolling
lubrication lubrication magnesium sheet

prevent or inhibit increased application in A number of these requirements are likely


favour of superplastic forming of aluminium to take considerable R&D efforts.
sheet. This issue can only be resolved A BMBF research programme examining
through reductions in alloy cost and through the tribology developments during rolling of
major improvements or developments in the magnesium sheets is being conducted at
sheet production processes. Hannover University, under the title ULM
(Ultralight Parts Made from Mg Sheets).
4.2.1 Future development requirements The aim of this research is to achieve
better surface qualities in sheet magnesium
Besides improving the availability of products (see Exhibit 4.8).
magnesium sheet at competitive costs, the
following areas of significant development The major requirements of lubricants for
are required to achieve greater levels of rolling of magnesium sheets include:
implementation readiness:
Prevention of sticking
Surface roughness characteristics Generation of optimised surface
(Ra and peak count) for optimal roughness for coatings (including paint)
lubrication, corrosion protection Enhanced corrosion resistance
and paint finish by passivation
Corrosion performance and
surface treatments To achieve these targets, there are three
Quality (reproducible properties key approaches:
and dimensions with acceptable
tolerance bands) Lubricants
Coating of rolls
Optimisation of sheet rolling cycles

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

However, it would appear that mill roll texture Considerable development of the alloys and
development was currently not a major process will be required to achieve suitable
feature of this research. It would therefore components, particularly as currently the
appear that the research was to rapidly assist fatigue life of magnesium components is
in product development of magnesium lower than that for aluminium. For chassis
sheets produced using current technologies components, both forged and rheocast
and methods as opposed to long-term, more magnesium provides greater opportunity, as
capital-intense developments. these product forms may be weldable and
heat treatable.
4.3 Forged magnesium
However, actual implementation of these for
GKSS is involved in EU programme components may be some years off. There
MAGFORGE, which is under way. This appears to be much work still to be done in
process route is a very strong opportunity this field, and uptake will be difficult for
for chassis components. Exhibit 4.9 safety-critical chassis parts in vehicles,
illustrates a forged magnesium part at particularly until the price for wrought
various stages between initial billet and magnesium becomes agreeable.
formed part.

Exhibit 4.9 Forged magnesium demonstration parts

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

5 JOINING TECHNOLOGIES
AND INTEGRATION

The joining and integration of magnesium in Exhibit 5.1. Features such as radio
components is a key area of research, supports, poke-yoke features and
as the ability to integrate considerably mounting/securing features that would
more magnesium into the vehicle is otherwise require a number of parts in an
heavily dependent upon the successful assembly, may easily be integrated at little
development and implementation of these. additional cost when designed for.

The following are key issues


for joining and integration:

Selection of joining
technology
Joint and assembly quality
and performance
Production volumes, process
efficiencies and cost
Maturity of joining
processes (including models
of failure behaviour)
Corrosion (galvanic) issues
for joint or other material
interfaces
Surface treatments and their
specification
ELV directive

Beyond weight reduction, a


major benefit of the casting
process is the ability and ease
with which parts may be
integrated into a single
component design, thereby
increasing the part
functionality, and potentially
both cost and performance.
A considerable part reduction
can be achieved over many
conventional steel or
aluminium fabricated designs,
and many different functions
and features achieved in the Exhibit 5.1 HPDC cross-car beam displaying high levels of part and
single die-casting, as illustrated function integration

33
MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

In terms of high pressure die-castings, these integration issues. However, these challenges
have restricted mechanical properties largely are by no means on the same scale as would
due to entrapped porosity. This is not an be required components for body structures.
issue for wrought products. Such entrapped
porosity in a casting not only influences Aside of some of the mechanical
mechanical properties but also the ability to performance requirements, the main
create assemblies in subsequent welding or reasons for this limited scope of application
joining processes. can be attributed to a lack of wrought
product availability in suitable quality and
In terms of the vehicle, the key areas appropriate cost for economic, mass-volume
for magnesium implementation include manufacture. This is also coupled with a
the following: considerable lack of design knowledge,
particularly in terms of simulation capability
Body (structure and interior trim) to predict magnesium component or
Powertrain system performance.
Chassis
A BMBF research programme called InMaK,
Joining and integration are particularly between the following research partners,
important aspects, and this is why there is has addressed some of these issues:
such an interest and focus in this field,
essential to producing component systems Laser Zentrum Hannover
or assemblies of high integrity. Particularly Hannover University
for body and chassis applications, joining is a Ford Forschungzentrum
key enabling technology. Whilst magnesium Honsel
alloys may be found in vehicles, they Elisental (aluminium and magnesium
generally are in applications where they are products)
relatively benign to the remainder of the EADS
structure or vehicle, and typically use
mechanical fasteners to integrate them with The InMaK programme was aimed at
the remaining structure. identifying improved alloy quality and extrusion
capability but also included the development
The possible scenarios for inclusion of of laser and MIG welding processes and the
magnesium components into a future ability to predict failure under loading, using
vehicle body structure include: numerical simulation techniques. This was
achieved by investigating the structural
Magnesium-intensive body structure performance of magnesium intensive
Hybrid body structure structures (see Exhibit 5.2).

The latter is more likely but will largely This programme appeared to link with Fords
depend upon continual R&D and future magnesium-intensive B-class concept vehicle.
legislation.
In addition to the InMaK research
However, to date the integration of programme, joining technology for wrought
magnesium into the structure of a vehicle magnesium is a major interest and, aside of
has been relatively limited. In the majority of alloy development, joining remains a key
structural applications, magnesium has been enabling technology for the future growth of
in the form of HPDC cross-car beams and magnesium for automotive and other
seat frames, which include their own industry sector applications.

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

the likely alloys and product forms and


respective joint conditions. Much of the
activity has been focused on the fabrication
capability of demonstration parts or systems
made from wrought components,
particularly extrusions and sheet
magnesium, with joining of sheet to sheet
and extrusion to extrusion used to assimilate
final components.

5.1 Laser welding

Much of GKSSs research activities are in


FSW and laser welding, and mechanical
joining and adhesive bonding. These
activities feed back to alloy development
activities and design guidelines.
Exhibit 5.2 InMaK: applied research into the
manufacture of magnesium structures
The laser welding activities at GKSS include
both aluminium and magnesium welding. In
Some of the available techniques for joining the magnesium welding trials, GKSS
of magnesium include: identified a number of key characteristics in
laser butt-welding magnesium alloy sheet
FSW (friction stir welding) material. For AZ31:AZ31 laser-welded joints,
LAFS (laser assisted friction stir) welding the weldments do not possess grain
RSW (resistance spot welding) coarsening adjacent to the fusion zone (see
MIG (metal inert gas) welding Exhibit 5.3). This finding is corroborated by
TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding work done at LKR.
Laser welding
Magnetic pulse welding
NVEB (non-vacuum electron beam) welding
SPR (self-pierce-riveting)
Clinching Base metal Fusion zone
Adhesive bonding
Fasteners (bolts, screws,
thread-forming screws)

However, a number of these remain very


much at the development stage, and require
Coarse grained Fine grained
further research to become more mature parent material fusion zone
and gain acceptance or are shelf-engineered
ready for implementation. Only processes
such as TIG and MIG techniques and
fasteners are fully mature. No grain coarsening
adjacent fusion zone

The principal focus of research into


magnesium joining technologies is to Exhibit 5.3 Laser welding of magnesium sheet:
establish suitable process parameters for AZ31 (2-mm thick), 7 m/min, 3.3 kW

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

GKSS also found that the size and Mg-Mg dissimilar FSW
distribution of porosity in the weld was
very heavily influenced by the welding
speed, and optimal speeds of 7-10 m/min AZ31
AZ61
are possible in 1-mm thick AZ31, without Al-Mg dissimilar FSW
the assistance of welding filler wire.
This proves that magnesium can be readily
welded at suitable speeds for volume AZ31 AC120
manufacture. Other welding trials illustrate
that magnesium could be manufactured as Exhibit 5.4 Friction stir welded (FSW)
a tailored blank concept to optimise for Mg and Mg:Al sheets
performance by selection of appropriate
material thickness and properties and FSW but were considerably lower than the
their location. Al:Al. The FSW process appears to be very
tolerant to different material combinations,
In LKRs laser butt-welding trials, extruded including magnesium to aluminium joints
magnesium alloy AZ31 B-F was capable of (see Exhibit 5.4).
being welded at 13 m/min at a power of
3.3 kW for 1.5-mm, 2.0-mm and 2.5-mm 5.3 Mechanical joining
thick samples. The physical nature of the
laser-welded magnesium samples displayed In terms of these technologies, the following
a very fine partially melted zone (PMZ) and have received the greatest focus as they are
no heat-affected zone (HAZ). Argon gas seen as essential to reducing the cost of
shielding was used. In the absence of filler, components:
the welds displayed slight undercut. One of
the issues anticipated was hot cracking; SPR cold (optimisation of rivet
however, this was not found to be a major geometry and process)
issue with laser beam welding. Clinching elevated temperature
Hemming/seaming elevated temperature
5.2 Friction stir welding (FSW)
The mechanical joining of magnesium via
In GKSSs welding department, FSW is SPR, clinch or hemming processes causes
performed using an FSW robot major challenges in that the formability of
configuration. This enables considerable magnesium is poor at low temperatures.
flexibility in terms of the joint type and However, elevating the temperature has a
parts that can be welded, when compared knock-on effect of increasing product cost.
with a standard mill-like FSW machine. Therefore, if any suitable means can be
GKSS has found that, in FSW joints in found by which these joining processes can
AZ31-AZ31 magnesium sheets, the weld be made more economically viable, the
has little impact upon the mechanical greater the chances of up-take.
properties. A small increase in hardness is
experienced, but little variation across the Both IFAM and LKR have been involved in
weld from parent material to parent research trials to optimise the geometry of
material. The Al:Mg FSW welds displayed self-pierce rivets and develop the process so
a greater degree of variation in properties, that it may be achieved at ambient
as would be expected. In terms of fatigue temperatures. According to LKR, there
performance, the Mg:Mg FSW samples appears to have been some success in this,
had a similar performance to the Mg:Al and a major factor in the joining development

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Exhibit 5.5

Cold riveting of AZ31


extrusions, and finite element
process simulation

is the generation of numerical models of the 5.4 Resistance spot welding (RSW)
processes, as shown in Exhibit 5.5,
demonstrating a more economical means of LKR is also involved in research into RSW
producing this type of joint. However, some of magnesium sheet in addition to high-
constraints have been found, and further strength steel and aluminium, with cost a
development is necessary. major motivator. Much of this development
is achieved through numerical simulation
VW has found that riveting magnesium to techniques. However, this welding
aluminium is possible by using semi-tubular technology is not a major focus compared
rivets, and achievable at room temperature with other joining technologies.
provided that the aluminium is placed onto
the bottom die. Such a joint configuration 5.5 Co-extrusion
may be typical of what could be expected
in a potential future closure system or LKR has also actively researched
body structure assembly. co-extrusion, a means of metallurgically
bonding two or more alloys by simultaneous
VW has also been involved in the successful extrusion (see Exhibit 5.6). The purpose is to
development of heated seam joints or achieve selectively tailored performance,
hemming for the hood closure system on the eg stiffness, strength, wear, chemical
3L Lupo. The heating fulfils two purposes: resistance, optical appearance.
it provides enhanced formability of the
hemmed joint and also cures the adhesive.
However, particular attention to detail in
terms of the passivation treatment is critical.

Exhibit 5.6 LKR co-extrusion


research

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5.6 Mechanical fasteners Exhibit 5.8

New thread-forming
MPI has tackled some of the more screw for fastening to
conventional but no less important areas magnesium castings
such as the common attachment screw for
assembly of the interior trim to the
instrument panel beam, for example. It has
become increasingly common in recent
years to use steel threaded inserts in
lightweight materials due to their inability to
cope with the requirements for re-insertion
or serviceability (see Exhibit 5.7).

This solution performs very well in all tests


for pull-out force and assembly ease.
The torque settings are still an important
assembly requirement but the advantages
far outweigh this.

Exhibit 5.7 Conventional steel threaded insert used Many assembly lines continue with the
with magnesium HPDCs frustration of spinning riv-nuts and riv-serts,
but there are thread-forming screws that can
Constant insertion and extraction of the perform admirably against any steel screw
screw would generally degrade the thread in and do not require steel at all. The thread
the light metal and render it useless as an forming screw option is offered to Meridians
attachment. Steel inserts provide a stable customers in their magnesium HPDC
platform for the thread to engage and re- component designs.
engage several times.
There are many other areas of advantage in
However, the major drawback with this the use of these screws, and the
method is the issues that can arise with the environmental one is important and will
insert spinning in the aluminium or become more advantageous in the future, as
magnesium metallic carrier metal. There can environmental pressures become even more
also be an issue with assembly torque on intense. When recycling the lightweight
the guns used at the OEM or Tier 1 materials with steel inserts, the grade of
integrator. The torque range must be metal would either be downgraded and the
restricted, and this sometimes requires steel taken out during the melt, or the steel
more diligence than usually desired. As a inserts would have to be removed prior to
consequence, great strides have been made the melt to make it a higher grade scrap part.
at some fastener suppliers in manufacturing With the use of thread forming screws, as
a screw which forms the thread within the the fitted components are removed we have
casting and provides an excellent a purely magnesium alloy component which
serviceability record for re-insertion. This is is 100% recyclable with ease.
now offered as a robust solution when
attaching to magnesium (see Exhibit 5.8).

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Heat radiation
1 2 3

1 Aluminium foam
2 Thread bush
3 Foamable magnesium

Exhibit 5.9 New metal foam threaded-insert technology

Some very interesting research at Hannover


University includes the use of diffusion
bonding to encapsulate threaded inserts into
metal foams, whereby magnesium foam
surrounding the threaded insert is diffused
into the aluminium foam, as shown in Exhibit
5.9. This joint enables connectivity of the
structural foam to another foam or structure.

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6 MAGNESIUM SURFACE
TREATMENTS

The corrosion resistance of magnesium because of their low solid solubility limits
components depends upon similar factors and their ability to serve as active cathodic
that are critical to other metals. However, due sites for the reduction of water, at the
to the electrochemical activity of magnesium, sacrifice of elemental magnesium. It is
the relative importance of certain key factors because modern high-purity magnesium
can greatly amplify the propensity by which alloys have much lower concentrations of
magnesium may corrode. iron, nickel and copper that the corrosion
performance is considerably improved.
The electrochemical activity of magnesium
alloys and their corrosion behaviour has long What complicates the use of magnesium
been an issue and was partly the cause of a alloys, however, is the electrochemical
reduction in their utilisation in many activity. For some component applications
aerospace applications. The original poor there is a requirement for appropriate
performance of these early alloys was coating systems to prevent or reduce
largely attributed to heavy-metal impurities galvanic corrosion effects by means of
such as iron, nickel and copper. Modern passivation, making the magnesium surface
high-purity alloys do not suffer from the more inert. Such a coating or surface
same issue, as illustrated by the different treatment may be supplementary to any
corrosion rates between AZ91C and high- aesthetic coating requirement.
purity AZ91E (see Exhibit 6.1).
The development of new surface treatments
This demonstrates that modern magnesium and coating technologies for magnesium
alloys have similar salt-spray corrosion components is therefore essential to enable
performance to aluminium alloys. Four main widespread use of magnesium alloys to
elements (iron, nickel, copper and cobalt) achieve lighter, more fuel-efficient designs
have extremely deleterious effects on the for transport components.
corrosion performance of magnesium

Exhibit 6.1 1,100

1,000
ASTM B117 Salf fog corrosion rate (mpy)

Corrosion performance of
various magnesium and 900
aluminium alloys
800

700
ZE 41
600 QE 22
500 A Z91C
400

300
C 355 A 201
200 W E 43 Elektron 21
A 356 A 203
100 W E 54 A Z91E
A 357 A 206

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

The other major driver for the development 6.1 Mission objectives (surface
of new coating technologies or new coating treatments)
systems is to achieve new environmentally
friendly systems in accordance with Investigate the state-of-the-art of
legislation such as the EU end-of-life vehicle European surface treatments
(ELV) directive (EC 2003/53). Such new Identify potential new applications for
coating systems must also be economic, magnesium, particularly those where
whilst displaying equivalent or better surface treatment is critical to its success
corrosion performance and/or wear or failure
resistance. For automotive applications, the Identify areas where the use of
use of hexavalent chromium and other magnesium is being limited by lack of
heavy metals has been prohibited through suitable surface treatment
the ELV directive. Therefore, automotive Observe how seriously the Europeans
manufacturers are required to use see surface treatment as an issue
alternative coating systems, some of which Identify potential partners for UK
may be inferior for the equivalent cost, or companies and DTI investment projects
more costly in delivering equivalent or
better performance. 6.2 NANOMAG

Importantly, also, the new coating systems A major EU programme called NANOMAG has
must provide for good adhesion, particularly been undertaken to investigate four candidate
where adhesive bonding is used as a means technologies that may enter the coatings
of joining components together. market of the future for use with magnesium
Breakthrough of the coating could have alloy substrate components. The three-year
disastrous effects on the performance of the programme that started in April 2002 aims to
joint, and possibly lead to failure. develop optimised coatings specifically for
different applications, and investigates wear,

Closed-field Exhibit 6.2


power supply
PAPVD coating process

Cathodic arc evaporation


Power supply: bipolar
Work pulsed DC
V
piece

Sputter power
supply: bipolar V
pulsed DC V

Ar
Substrate bias:
bipolar pulsed DC
V

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Exhibit 6.3 OCH 3

PECVD coating process OCH 3 - Si OCH 3, O 2 QuickTime and a


decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

H2O, CO2 ,
CH 3OH
OCH 3

PUMP
13.5 MHz

Work piece

Exhibit 6.4

Sol-gel coating process


Solution

Hydrolysis Substrate
Substrate

Xerogel Dense
coating

Sol

Exhibit 6.5 Electrode 1 Electrode 2 Electrical pulses

Keronite (PEO) process

Heat Power supply


exchanger
Plasma
discharge
Work
piece

Acousto
hydrodynamic
generator
Electrolyte Electrolyte

Pump
Air

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

corrosion protection and adhesion properties 6.2.3 Sol-gel


and the economical and technological
feasibility of scaling up and using these In principle, this coating uses ceramic
technologies via life-cycle assessments (LCAs). surface engineering technology. Sol-gel
coats the surface of a substrate with a
The four candidate surface technologies hydrolysed ceramic liquid. After curing and
included in the study were: firing, the liquid becomes a very protective
solid ceramic phase (see Exhibit 6.4).
PAPVD
PECVD This micro- and nano-coating technology and
Sol-gel the PAPVD technique were being researched
Keronite (PEO) by CSEM SA (Switzerland).

6.2.1 PAPVD 6.2.4 Keronite (PEO)

Plasma-assisted physical vapour deposition As well as being the name of the company,
(PAPVD) coatings use thermal vaporisation Keronite is a registered trademark used to
and sputtering methods to build a coating describe a revolutionary new surface
layer on the substrate (see Exhibit 6.2). engineering technology designed for the
treatment of light metals such as alloys of
Manipulation of the sputtering target magnesium and aluminium. It uses a unique
material and sputtering power supply electro-ceramic method of surface
controls the deposition density and treatment known as plasma electrolytic
morphology on the substrate. oxidation (PEO).

6.2.2 PECVD Keronite technology uses an immersion


process, whereby electrical pulses of both
Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) positive and negative polarities are passed
techniques use liquid inorganic and organic through a bath of non-hazardous, chrome-
compounds and gases to deposit a coating free, low-concentrate alkaline electrolyte, as
onto the substrate material or workpiece. illustrated in Exhibit 6.5.

In the NANOMAG programme, the plasma- This treatment quickly transforms the
enhanced chemical vapour deposition surface of the substrate metal into a hard,
(PECVD) process develops a silicon-oxide dense layer, providing protection from
based coating on the workpiece, corrosion and wear.
generating a micro- and nano-structured
coating (see Exhibit 6.3). The coating R&D A localised plasma discharge converts the
is being performed by the Universita degli surface of light metal substrates into a
Studi di Bari, supported with process complex ceramic, by means of:
optimisation characterisation from the
University of Patras. Archer Technicoat Ltd Oxidation of the surface
of the UK are supporting with the provision Elementary co-deposition
and design of the coating equipment. Fusion of the ceramic layer

Keronite coatings perform well on a wide


range of alloys, including some that
conventional anodising processes cannot

43
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treat. Unlike most traditional coating Of the companies visited, BMW is the
methods, it is possible to interrupt the most advanced user of magnesium in
treatment mid-process without damaging terms of tackling the practical corrosion and
the structure of the surface or the finish. It is coating issues. BMW presented a two-part
also possible to repair worn or damaged pressed magnesium bonnet for which
parts, restoring them to their original Keronite is used as the anti-corrosion
specification rather than discarding and coating. Also, the new magnesium engine
replacing them. is the talk of the automotive world, and
everybody we met in Germany expressed
According to James A Curran, a research unprompted opinions about it. Even so, in
scientist in the Composites and Coatings the most vulnerable area, it uses aluminium
Group at The Gordon Laboratory, a combined water jacket and cylinder
Department of Materials Science and head to resist corrosion and wear. BMW
Metallurgy: Keronite coatings present an is interested in the possibility of large,
attractive combination of properties for stressed, magnesium castings.
applications in the automotive and
aerospace industries. The coatings exhibit Aerospace is being targeted for magnesium
hardness and wear resistance that can be non-structural use (eg hostess trolleys, cable
superior even to plasma sprayed or EB-PVD trunking) only, due to corrosion and
coatings and can significantly out-perform flammability risk. SZMT is particularly
anodised coatings in this respect. Moreover, interested in aerospace because of the
the adhesion and low residual stresses in greater margins available.
Keronite coatings could make them suitable
for high-temperature environments or The supply of surface treatment is
thermal cycling. dominated by conversion processes of
Henkel and Chemetall. So-called nano-
The four new coatings PAPVD, PECVD, coatings, typically silane-based polymers, are
sol-gel and Keronite will be extensively also seen as promising. Several organisations
assessed on demonstrator automotive and worked with AHCs Magoxid-coat, though no
aerospace components within the production applications were shown. Hella
NANOMAG programme. uses aluminised powder coat on magnesium
headlamps, cast by HDO.
The envisaged timescales at which these
four coating technologies may be exploited HDO specialises in casting small parts with
are also under detailed review. a decorative finish. It has a partnership with
Atotech, the US surface treatment company.
6.3 Highlights Currently, the reject rate of headlamps is too
high because of surface treatment
6.3.1 Industrial perspective problems. HDO also casts magnesium door
grab handles for DaimlerChrysler, which are
Most of the current applications using a lot then chrome plated. However, this is too
of magnesium are automotive die-castings, expensive currently as it takes too many
and most are under-bonnet applications steps, but further developments are taking
(engine covers and gearbox housings) and place to improve the cost and quality of this
non-visible body reinforcements (closure decorative finish.
frames, front modules, seat frames,
IP beams, headlamp brackets and, MPI is the largest European supplier of
more recently, convertible roof frames). magnesium parts. It has become an expert

44
MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

in corrosion-resistant design (avoidance of Exhibit 6.6


water traps, multimaterial contact corrosion,
Electrochemical
etc). Some products, eg instrument panel pen used at GKSS
beams and seat frames, are sent to the to determine
customer with no coating of any kind. corrosion potential

For more difficult jobs such as the front


module MPI has tested different
pretreatments (chromate, Fe and Zn
phosphates, phosphor-permanganate,
Alodine 5200, fluoro Zn, Keronite) and top
coats (primer e-coat and powder coat).
Sometimes, MPI also uses coatings on seat
frames to prevent squeaking of the
magnesium against the seat padding. experience is studying corrosion
mechanisms and providing testing
6.3.2 Academic and RTO perspective services. It has good test facilities, and
experience in stress corrosion cracking.
The distinction between universities and One of the corrosion evaluation techniques
research and technology organisations offered at GKSS is the electrochemical pen
(RTOs) visited is fuzzy. This image is (see Exhibit 6.6) for evaluating the
reinforced by the many examples of cross- corrosion potential of a substrate and the
collaboration we saw, and by the existence influence of a coating or joining by means
of the Fraunhofer Institutes often attached to of scanning the material, measuring the
a university. Broadly speaking, RTOs appear free corrosion potential.
to be funded more heavily by government
than are the universities. The hosts most Such information could be used to improve
active in surface treatment of magnesium the joint processing to achieve improved
were GKSS and IFAM. corrosion performance, or in the
development of coatings (see Exhibit 6.7),
GKSS without the need for arduous corrosion salt-
spray tests. This quantitative test method
The GKSS magnesium research centre has provides very detailed information on the
a dedicated corrosion department, headed coatings electrochemical behaviour, and
by Dr Wolfgang Dietzler. Its main information on any flaws or defects.

Exhibit 6.7

Coating evaluation using


electrochemical, scanning pen

45
MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Free corrosion potential (V) currently not state-of-the-art. This project


is funded by GKSS.

Other target projects for the future include


investigations into plasma spraying, chrome-
free chemical conversion coatings, followed

on
by the development of polymer coatings.

cti
ire
Yd
IFAM
X direction

IFAM also displayed some excellent and


modern research facilities, and a professional
AZ31 AA5083
magnesium aluminium approach. Significantly, it receives more
funding from industry than government.

Exhibit 6.8 Open circuit potential scan using IFAM, Bremen is the project manager of
electrochemical pen to assess free
corrosion potential of FSW of AZ31
MG-CHASSIS, one of the EU-funded MG-
magnesium to AA5083 aluminium CLUSTER projects looking at the use of
magnesium in the car industry. The goal is
GKSS has also performed investigations on to reduce vehicle weight by the increased
the corrosion behaviour of different joining use of magnesium HPDC for automotive
methods of dissimilar metals, notably chassis components. The project aims to
aluminium and magnesium (see Exhibit 6.8). specify materials for an engine support
Again, GKSS works with partners in (with CRF), transmission mounts (VW) and
developing surface treatments. an engine bracket (Opel). The work
packages include one on surface treatment
GKSSs plans are ambitious. Its vision is to being carried out by the Swedish Corrosion
find coatings that are both wear- and Institute in Stockholm.
corrosion-resistant on magnesium.
Alloys were tested for corrosion resistance
It has two projects just starting: amongst other properties, and a shortlist
derived. These included AM60 (corrosion
PVD magneto sputtering, ion beam, rate 3 mg/dm2/day), AZ91 (1.9) and three
arc evaporation, intermetallics, etc. This is MRI alloys (approx 0.6). The alloy choices
being funded in the InnoMagTec initiative. were further corrosion-tested to see the
influence of:
A version of the PEO process is being
researched, similar to that of Keronite, Surface roughness: polished surfaces
and is under co-development with a were found to have approximately
Ukrainian research institute, at which it 2x better resistance
was founded. They have already published NaCl concentration: more NaCl gave
a paper and want to study the influence more corrosion
of different substrates and process Temperature: ditto
parameters. Their targets are porosity Relative humidity: ditto
reduction and identification of suitable Presence of CO2 and SO2: more of each
sealants for better properties. So far, the reduced corrosion
morphology of this coating appears Presence of other metals,
satisfactory, though the properties are eg aluminium washers

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So far, these tests have been carried out on accelerated corrosion. In applications in
bare magnesium only. which components are exposed and/or
visible such as door and tailgate frames,
IFAM corrosion department is led by Dr front-end structures, headlamp casings, etc
Ihde who led a study to find the best greater demands on the corrosion
corrosion protection coating process for resistance and the aesthetic surface quality
magnesium components. He investigated of the component are placed. These new
bought-in coatings Ti-F, V-Mn, a silane-based applications are driving the demand for
coating, an oxide-based coating (Magoxid- suitable surface treatments for large
coat from AHC), plasma spraying and Cr6. magnesium components.
On top of these, they applied various
powder coats, e-coat, solvent paints and For the majority of the assembled vehicle
special coatings (MKS). The final preferred body-in-white (BIW), a phosphate/electro-
process was: coat process will be used in conjunction
with finish painting. Unlike steel parts,
Alkaline cleaning magnesium components cannot be directly
Acid pickling assembled to the vehicle. The reasons why
Cr6-free pretreatment this is not practical are as follows:
E-coat
Powder coat Standard phosphate treatments do not
provide adequate paint adhesion quality
A key conclusion was that a good-quality The phosphate tank environment which a
magnesium sample performs much better vehicle body and its closures pass
than a bad one, given exactly the same through is very acidic and causes
cleaning and coating. dissolution of magnesium
Fe ions will deposit on magnesium,
The German system of research funding, dramatically reducing its corrosion
especially Fraunhofer Institutes, seems to resistance
have spun off a number of companies
developing and selling so-called nano- Thus, for these applications, magnesium
coatings for magnesium and other materials requires a pretreatment which is a
with good prospects. chemical conversion of the materials
surface. A pretreatment alone is not always
6.3.3 Perceived technical/ sufficient to produce satisfactory galvanic
economic barriers corrosion resistance.

Cost is definitely seen as a barrier to the 6.3.4 Current and future


wider uptake of magnesium components in research priorities
the automotive industry, particularly the cost
of corrosion protection. In the aerospace The largest funding for magnesium projects
industry, cost was not cited as an issue. in Europe is the EU MG-CLUSTER group
Rather, risk of corrosion and flammability are comprising MG-CHASSIS, MG-ENGINE,
fears that prevent magnesium use in primary MAGJOIN and NANOMAG, and collectively
or even secondary structures. the funding is very significant. These all
have an automotive bias. UK representation
In automotive applications, components is near zero. CRF has a coordinating role
may be exposed to aggressive in all four and is also the project manager
environments that promote conditions of for NANOMAG

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

NANOMAG is aimed at finding suitable 6.4 Conclusions


surface treatments for magnesium
components, and is testing PVD, Keronite German organisations are very active in
and various polymeric nano-coatings. magnesium research, and see it primarily
CRF reported that Keronite was the as a German metal.
best coating tested.
German industry benefits from significant
Also of particular note is the new funding on magnesium research, spent
InnoMagTec initiative being coordinated by under a cohesive strategy, with many
GKSS. It has assigned 3.5 million to organisations working together.
26 joint projects funded by the German
Research Council. The money will go to There is an EU-funded group of magnesium
research centres and universities all over projects, MG-CLUSTER, from which UK
Germany. It has several projects dealing with companies are spectacularly absent. In
coatings for corrosion and wear resistance, some cases, this money appears to be
including a PVD project at GKSS and two on given to novices who will gain significant
mechanical treatment of magnesium ground on their UK counterparts.
surfaces, which could be interesting.
Professor Kainer at GKSS is concerned
InnoMagTec has five working groups, about the considerable activities of
including one focused on corrosion, China, and believes EU funding is
illustrating that significant emphasis is being required if Europe is to preserve and
placed on corrosion protection. protect its magnesium industry.
Such threats will also impact upon the
For industry, automotive people we met surface engineering industry, because
were trying to use alloy selection to offset if magnesium components are
the likelihood of corrosion rather than accept manufactured in China, then they will
a surface treatment, in order to save cost. also be surface treated in China.

Several organisations mentioned that the


aircraft industry is a big potential market
for magnesium. It is suited to low-volume,
high-value manufacturing that still appears
to be sustainable in the UK. Addressing
the two main fears of flammability and
corrosion convincingly could differentiate
UK industry. They do not appear to be
tackled well on mainland Europe, and we
have the expertise in the UK to make
a breakthrough.

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

7 POTENTIAL FUTURE APPLICATIONS


AND TECHNO-ECONOMIC ISSUES

7.1 Introduction view of the European OEMs was that there


was little or no direct cost-benefit in weight-
In addition to the missions main aim of saving (except in specific parts such as
benchmarking UK magnesium technology removable seats). Fiat stated that a cost
against European magnesium technology, its increase of 2/kg weight saved was possible,
second role was to examine the use of but in practice weight-saving should be free.
magnesium in the European automotive It should be considered that weight-saving is
sector and relate this to its use in the UK an order-winner for a cost-neutral alternative.
automotive sector.
Thus, in order to assess the future of
For an automotive part to be manufactured in magnesium penetration into automotive
magnesium, the part must of course show manufacture, it is necessary to consider not
benefit with respect to the alternatives. As only how the technology is developing, but
well as lightweighting, where magnesium has also what factors will affect the final part cost.
a natural advantage over steel and aluminium,
a magnesium design solution will have 7.2 Magnesium supply and demand in
advantages and disadvantages with respect to western Europe
alternative solutions manufactured from steel,
aluminium or plastics. Obviously, the balance 7.2.1 Magnesium supply
of these is different for each part. Some of the
key aspects of an automotive product The global production of magnesium has
mentioned by the mission hosts included: been transformed over the last decade by
penetration into the western market of
Total cost metal from the Peoples Republic of China
Crash impact behaviour (PRC). In 1994, PRC magnesium accounted
Part integration for less than 20% of global production, with
Stiffness much of its production going into lower
Surface finish quality applications such as desulphurising
Durability steel. By 2003, in spite of import tariffs in
Supply chain maturity and stability both the EU and USA over some of that
timeframe, total market penetration had
One common factor which was highlighted increased to ~65%, and to nearly 100% in
on several occasions was that, in situations some sectors such as desulphurisation.
where magnesium was applied as a direct
material substitution, little or no benefit was Chinese penetration in the die-casting sector
gained. Applications where magnesium was has been slower, with many companies
successfully applied tended to be situations taking a conservative view regarding product
where the part and/or system was specifically quality and reliability. However, as the
designed for magnesium. Chinese producers have developed better
quality-control systems, sales have
Much is made of the driver for using increased, and it is expected that this
magnesium for weight-saving. However, the pattern will continue.

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The effect of Chinese market penetration is complicated by changes to duty imposed


has also been felt by western producers, by the EU and the USA. The current position
with over 250 kt of western production in western Europe (where there is no
capacity being shut down or mothballed anti-dumping duty) is that there is now little
since 19902. In addition to this, several premium for western-produced metal over
planned western primary production Chinese-produced, and that the prices
developments have been abandoned. This (both western and Chinese) are driven by
fluidity in the supply market is of concern to the Chinese producer price.
the OEMs as it poses the question of
whether the supply chain is stable. 7.2.2 Magnesium demand in
western Europe
Unlike aluminium, magnesium is not a traded
commodity. This means that no official price Utilisation of magnesium is dominated by
data are available. The price of western- three applications: alloying with aluminium,
produced magnesium softened from around desulphurising steel, and high-pressure
$2,500/t through 2000, falling to $1,800- die-castings. Other applications combined
2,000/t by 2001. This coincides with the rise make up less than 10%. Aluminium alloying
of availability of Chinese magnesium. The and desulphurisation are not structural
price remained roughly at these levels until applications, so are outside the remit of
the final quarter of 2003, when the price this report.
rose sharply to $2,200-2,300/t, only to fall
back to earlier levels by quarter 2, 2004. This Demand for magnesium in western Europe
price spike was driven by Chinese prices and has shown an average of 10% growth
availability, and was reported to have been across all markets over the last 10 years,
caused by raw material and power supply resulting in annual consumption rising from
issues in the PRC. 60,000 t in 1993 to 125,000 t in 2003.
This rate of growth is roughly double that
The price difference between western- of North America over the same period.
produced metal and Chinese metal was However, this growth is dominated by HPDC
roughly $600/t in 2000. This has slowly growth, which has been averaging over 20%
reduced as market confidence in Chinese throughout the decade (see Exhibit 7.1).
metal has increased; however, the situation

Exhibit 7.1 50,000


45,000
Western European 40,000
consumption of magnesium 35,000
for die-castings3 30,000
Tonnes

25,000
20,000
15,000
10,000
5,000
0
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

2 Robert L Edgar, The Magnesium Industry Past, Present and Future, in: Proceedings of the 60th World Magnesium Conference, Stuttgart, May 2003, published
by International Magnesium Association (IMA)

3 Source data: International Magnesium Association (IMA)

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This growth is dominated by automotive significantly too high to interest the OEMs in
applications, which make up the vast series production. VW quote that wrought
majority of the die-castings produced, and magnesium has a current price range of
compares favourably with the situation in 10-15/kg, with 5-8/kg as the target4.
America, where die-cast magnesium use
has reduced since 1999 (see Exhibit 7.2). There is an acknowledgment that the
reason the wrought price is so high is a
7.2.3 Magnesium demand in the UK combination of technical and supply
factors. The technical aspects, such as
Magnesium die-casting production in the UK difficulty in extruding and forming, are the
is currently less than 10% that of western focus of much of the German research
Europe, with 95% of the UK production (by effort, whilst two large German companies
tonnage) being concentrated in one producer. SZMT and Thyssen-Krupp are
This is largely in line with the size and addressing the lack of magnesium sheet
demand of the UKs automotive industry. supply availability. Both companies have
invested heavily in the development of
7.3 Wrought alloys sheet magnesium production capacity. In
the UK, Magnesium Elektron has
Currently, there are no European series developed a magnesium sheet capacity by
production applications for the automotive acquiring a rolling mill in North America.
industry that involve wrought magnesium.
The economic factors affecting take-up of 7.4 Automotive applications
magnesium are very different for wrought
magnesium (both sheet and extrusions). 7.4.1 Powertrain
The growth in die-castings has led to a
concerted European research effort in The powertrain is the part of the vehicle
wrought magnesium. For example, the FP5 with one of the largest potentials for weight
programmes MAGNEXTRUSCO and reduction, and is also one of the greatest for
MAGJOIN, and the German government- potential volume magnesium applications.
funded programmes. From a commercial
perspective, however, the prices of available In 2004 BMW launched a composite block
magnesium extrusion and sheet are consisting of an inner casting made from

100,000 Exhibit 7.2

80,000 North and South American


consumption of magnesium
60,000 for die-castings3
Tonnes

40,000

20,000

0
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

4 S Schumann & H Friedrich, The Route from the Potential of Magnesium to Increased Application in Cars, in: Proceedings of the 60th World Magnesium
Conference, Stuttgart, May 2003, published by IMA

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

aluminium, which contains the cylinder liners These applications are seen as traditional
and the coolant, surrounded by a magnesium magnesium applications (see Exhibit 7.4).
alloy HPDC crankcase. This component is for
the new straight-6 series of engines and will Of particular interest is the use of magnesium
be in high-volume series production in 2005. for interior trim parts, whereby magnesium
provides a metallic look and feel that is
VW have been investigating similar currently sought after over other substrate
technology, and in 2004 showed research on materials such as injection or blow moulded
a 4-cylinder block. engineering plastics, at no weight penalty.

VW/Audi introduced manual magnesium In luxury and performance cars, magnesium


gearboxes on some Passat and Golf models castings are also being used for seats
in 1996. (see Exhibit 7.5), door inners and convertible
roof supports.
In 2003/4 Mercedes-Benz introduced an
automatic magnesium gearbox 7-speed In a low-emissions version of the Lupo, VW
tip-tronic, shown in Exhibit 7.3. produced a magnesium die-cast hatchback
inner (see Exhibit 7.6). Such projects enable
the OEM to develop technologies in order
that they may be shelf-engineered, so that
at a later date they can be called upon with
known or defined solutions.

7.4.4 Wrought applications

There are no current applications of wrought


magnesium known to be in series
production. However, there is considerable
interest and development/demonstrator work
Exhibit 7.3 Mercedes-Benz 7G-Tronic seven-speed taking place in the European automotive
automatic transmission
industry, much of which is highly confidential.

7.4.2 Structural castings 7.4.5 Beyond automotive applications

Magnesium is being widely used for IP Whilst automotive applications are likely to
beams. These parts integrate a structural remain the dominant consumer of
cross-member running behind the dashboard magnesium alloys, growth is also envisaged
with various attachments for functions such in their uptake by fielding them in applications
as dashboard or centre consoles. in the following sectors or industries:

7.4.3 Other castings Aerospace


Rail
Magnesium is now widely used for many Military
non-structural or secondary structural castings Information and communications
in high-volume series. Notable examples are technologies
steering wheels and steering column Power generation
support/lock housings, where there has been Leisure
a high level of conversion to magnesium. Medical

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Exhibit 7.4 Traditional HPDC magnesium component


applications

Exhibit 7.5 Exhibit 7.6 Magnesium die-cast tailgate inner


component and mission team at GKSS
HPDC magnesium
seat frame

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Each market sector is likely to have its own


R&D activities in order to meet its specific
requirements. This in itself is also a major
benefit, as this activity will also increase and
assist the knowledge and research base for
magnesium alloy product forms.

7.5 Conclusions

Magnesium deployment in automotive


applications is showing strong growth in
Europe. Its use as high-pressure die-
castings has recently been extended to
include blocks, gearboxes and structural
members. As these applications are
successful on their specific platforms,
they will stimulate further expansions and
transfer to other platforms and sectors.

Wrought magnesium is less well


developed, and needs considerable
process development and cost reduction
before automotive applications in series
production will be viable on anything
except the most expensive platforms or
very-low-volume luxury or performance
models. Significant potential also exists for
wrought magnesium in other industries
that are not sensitive to its price.

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8 R&D FUNDING AND


INFRASTRUCTURE

A notable feature of the mission was to gain listed, only 7 involved UK participation,
a better understanding of the level of and the majority of those were FP4 projects
collaborative research involving magnesium engaging small UK organisations.
since the late 1990s.
A significant activity relates to a number of
The German government has been funding major FP5 magnesium research projects in
a significantly high level of magnesium progress: MG-CHASSIS; MG-ENGINE,
research. InnoMagTec1 funded by the NANOMAG, MAGJOIN. These projects have
German Research Council aims at been clustered to form MG-CLUSTER, to
extending the applications of magnesium facilitate the synergy achievable by transferring
alloys. The project comprises 107 research know-how from one project to another.
proposals, and has been allocated a budget
of 19.4 million. GKSS are involved in this A brief summary will now be given of the
programme, along with Hamburg, key research projects in this cluster.
Paderborn, Dortmund, Aachen, Erlangen,
Karlsruhe, Freiburg, and Ranshofen in MG-CLUSTER
Austria. Initial results will be presented after Coordinator: CRF (Italy)
18 months.
This cluster has been organised to promote
The German Federal Ministry of Education a synergic effect from multiple results of the
and Research (BMBF) has been funding different projects and to integrate the
collaborative magnesium research with necessary large quantity of activities in an
Israel under the MINERVA project, effective way, such that it will be possible to
believed to be of value around 4 million. embrace almost all kinds of application in
Magnesium sheet also features in the the field of the automotive industry.
BMBF-funded super-light-car project
(Ultra Light parts in Magnesium ULM), MG-CHASSIS
with the target of developing a 1-litre VW Coordinator: IFAM (Germany)
car having total weight of 260 kg, with
around 35 kg of magnesium. The objective of the project is to develop a
manufacturing technology for the production
8.1 EU research projects of lightweight magnesium chassis
components for high-toughness applications
A non-exhaustive summary list of EU-funded (eg wheels, chassis), and to validate this for
magnesium research projects since 1998 is two demonstrators. New magnesium alloys
given in Exhibit 8.1. These projects cover the with improved mechanical properties and
whole range of areas important to industry, better corrosion resistance will be used, and
from alloy development to manufacture, improved joining techniques. A fatigue-life
finishing and joining. It is estimated that the estimation method and quality-assurance
total value of this research is of the order of methods for highly loaded parts will
37 million, of which around 50% has been contribute to the design guidelines for
provided by the EU. Of the 24 projects magnesium components.

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Project title Completion EU funding UK


date ()
FP4 projects

Design and processing of selectively reinforced Mg-based components 1998 Y

Shaping of magnesium and aluminium alloys by pressure die-casting 1998 N


in the semi-solid state

MAGDOOR: magnesium door inner 1999 N

Thixoforming of advanced light metals for automotive components 1999 N

Action for low-weight automotive technologies 2000 Y

Calculation and experimental investigation of the phase diagrams Mg-Li-X 2000 N

Development and testing of new surface treatment processes for 2000 N


magnesium alloys

SAMMI: safe and economic machining of magnesium castings 2001 N

Autopassive wrought magnesium alloys 2001 Y

CREEPAL: long-term creep and thermal-mechanical cycling behaviour 2001 Y


of aluminium alloys

FP5 projects*

Development of novel materials in mechanical engineering 2002 22,006 N

Ecological and effective high-speed machining of magnesium 2002 650,000 N

MAGJOIN: new joining techniques for light magnesium components 2003 1,578,739 Y

MAGNEXTRUSCO: hydrostatic extrusion process for efficient production 2004 1,447,145 N


of magnesium structural components

MAGCAST: production line integrated sensor system for porosity quality 2004 975,800 Y
control of magnesium die-castings

REMACAF: recycling of magnesium chips and flash/fines 2004 500,469 N

SEPCAST: sustainable and economic production of 2004 2,306,033 N


magnesium components

MG-CHASSIS: advanced manufacturing technology for automotive 2005 2,648,965 N


chassis components through extensible and sustainable use of Mg alloys

NANOMAG: development of innovative nanocomposite coatings 2005 3,386,475 Y


for magnesium castings

EUROMAGUPCASTER: European magnesium upward continuous caster 2005 1,705,509 N

MAGBODY: magnesium-intensive, multimaterial body structures by


advanced joining technologies 2005 117,600 N

MG-ENGINE: lightweight engine construction through extended and


sustainable use of Mg-alloys 2005 1,849,395 N

RHEOLIGHT: rheocasting an innovative and ecological process for


light and cost-effective applications in different industrial sectors 2005 1,275,351 N

FP6 projects

MAGFORGE 2007 N
* EU FP5: Total EU funding around 15.8 million, ie total project value around 31.6 million (~22.5 million);
UK involvement 3 from 13 projects
Exhibit 8.1 EU-funded R&D projects for structural magnesium

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Fuel consumption and CO2 emission of MG-ENGINE


passenger vehicles are associated with a Coordinator: Riso (Denmark)
growing demand for low-weight
components. As a consequence, The objective of the project is to develop
magnesium has recently gained importance new magnesium alloys with improved high-
due to its low density and the high strength- temperature properties, to develop a
to-weight ratio. However, existing generic engine-block design, and to
magnesium alloys are not suitable for thick manufacture engine-block prototypes. It will
components requiring high strength and take into consideration traditional casting
ductility. Furthermore, the current processes, but material will be improved by
manufacturing technology has to be modification of existing magnesium alloys
modified in order to fulfil the requirements to increase the mechanical properties at
of high-volume production. The overall high temperature. Gluing and fastening
objective proposal is therefore to develop a techniques for high temperature are
suitable manufacturing technology for the fundamental topics, which will be examined
production of lightweight magnesium in synergy with project MAGJOIN.
chassis components and to validate this for
two demonstrators. The total cost of the MG-ENGINE project is
4.1 million. The partners are: Volvo (Sweden),
IFAM is investigating HPDC, warm chamber Renault (France), Norsk Hydro (Norway),
(700 t) and cold chamber (4,500 t); and using Noranda (Canada), Honsel (Germany), CRF
a large X-ray facility to inspect quality. (Italy), DaimlerChrysler (Germany), BMW
(Germany), Adam Opel (Germany).
The total funding for MG-CHASSIS is worth
some 5.1 million total, and the EU NANOMAG
achieved a 50% funding level. The partners Coordinator: CRF (Italy)
for this programme include IFAM, CRF,
DaimlerChrysler, Opel, Stockholm Corrosion The objective of the project is to develop
Institute, Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd, and new corrosion and abrasion resistant
CBF Darmstadt. coatings for the protection of magnesium
parts, by using clean, environmentally
Key elements of research include: friendly and economic processes.

Alloy development/evaluation MAGJOIN


Process study and selection (looking at Coordinator: CRF (Italy)
sand casting + liquid HIPing (at CRF) to
reduce porosity This project was completed in 2003 at a
Corrosion and surface treatment cost of 3 million, and established a state-
evaluation (VICT) of-the-art for processes and metallurgy for
Exploitation (data compiled mixed joints. A suitable configuration of
and disseminated) weldable joint by laser and arc processes
was described, and some specific joints
Demonstrator components to be evaluated: were selected for further experimentation.
Study and definition of metallurgical effect
VW transmission housing (squeeze cast) on weldability of mixed joints was
Opel engine bracket (HPDC) completed, and a list of filler materials
Engine support (CRF) possible for mixed joints was collected.
Filler materials of different chemical

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

composition were produced and transformed as the coordinator of the MAGJOIN project
into powder useful for laser welding also participates in this project. The other
application. Filler materials in powder-cored section of the MAGNEXTRUSCO project
wire shape were also produced for laser and focuses on the design and development of
arc welding of mixed joints. lightweight magnesium structures for
transport purposes.
A complete and equipped laser-welding tool-
head has been designed (on the basis of The most interactive parts of the project are
precise specifications) and built for the alloy and billet preparation development,
experimental test. Integration of welding the study of the processing techniques, and
tool-heads in two different places (CRF-Italy the structural integrity assessment, which
and DLR-Germany) was made, and test will provide feedback for further research.
validation carried out with positive response. This approach has been chosen to secure
the most optimal outcome of the project, as
Weldability test for mixed joints Mg-Mg and it considers the whole chain from material
Al-Mg was carried out by CO2 and Nd-YAG production and processing to end-use.
laser with positive response. Friction stir
welding (FSW) has also been tested for Total project funding is 2.5 million, with the
mixed joints, and weldability was established. ECs contribution being provided under the
GROWTH programme. Coordinated by Audi
The project has been focused mainly on the AG, the consortium comprises nine partners,
basic research concerning joining of including IBF, GKSS, Boliden, Rond, UUKV,
magnesium cast alloys with magnesium and IRF and TNO.
aluminium alloys. The aim has been to
develop joining technologies (welding and 8.2 Additional projects
adhesive bonding), and related feeding
material and equipment, for mixed joints to Following is a list of some of the main
be used in the above-mentioned projects projects involving the mission hosts:
(and also in other industrial sectors) for
component development and manufacturing. LKR

MAGNEXTRUSCO MMC pistons (ALICE)


Coordinator: Audi AG (Germany) Co-extrusion of magnesium core with
aluminium outer layer (cooperation
The project aims to develop a new process with EADS)
for the production of lightweight, cost- Round-robin on recycling of magnesium
effective and safe magnesium structures, (Noranda Tech Centre, BMW, Magnola)
based on the hydrostatic extrusion principle. Major lightweighting project starting
in 2005
One section of the MAGNEXTRUSCO
project focuses on the development of an IW, University of Hannover
efficient process for magnesium extrusion,
including development of improved alloys EU project EUROMAGUPCASTER to
and billets as well as the study of processing develop a continuous casting technique
techniques. The expertise on joining of for magnesium, and numerical
magnesium structural parts will be obtained simulation model
from the recently started MAGJOIN project. Ultralight parts in magnesium sheet
The exchange of know-how is secured, BMBF-funded project ULM

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MAG TECH 1: MAGNESIUM ALLOYS AND PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIGHTWEIGHT TRANSPORT APPLICATIONS A MISSION TO EUROPE

Project Innovative Mg structures for car 2000 MAGJOIN Joining magnesium


bodies (InMaK) castings and extrusions, chassis components
welded. Partners: EADS, Honsel, Ford, 2001 MAGNEXTRUSCO magnesium
IW, Elisental, Lazer Zentrum Hannover extrusion process
2001 MG-CHASSIS magnesium
Meridian engine support
2002 MG-ENGINE magnesium
MAGDOOR engine block
New development with Norsk Hydro 2002 NANOMAG corrosion protection
engine oil-pan in anti-creep alloy affordable, sustainable
Crash research MEPROMA. Partners:
Renault, Volvo, Norsk, VW Networks

GKSS Network industrial community for


promotion of light metal research (RWTH
Many international project collaborations: involved)
FITNET EU Fitness for Service
EU project MAGNEXTRUSCO: thematic network (GKSS involved)
2.5 million. Partners: Audi, IBF, TNO,
GKSS, Boliden, Rond, UUKV, IRF. 8.3 Summary and recommendations
Hydrostatic extrusion
EU project MAGFORGE. Partners include It is clear that a significant level of
TNO, GKSS, IMA, TU Hamburg, Monash collaborative and government-funded
University (Australia) research has been undertaken in Europe
Joining: European Fitness for Service over the past five years, in which the UK
Network (FITNET) (thematic network) has had next-to-zero involvement. This
WEL-AIR EU project on laser beam degree of involvement in EU-funded
welding looking at T-joint skin-stringer programmes is a reflection of the
EU project Mag for Aero run by temporary state of the UK automotive
Airbus Ottobrunn industry, in terms of financial climate but
also a reflection of the UK in general.
IFAM
It is also felt that the UK position on
MG-CHASSIS: 5.1 million. Partners: magnesium R&D is unlikely to achieve
IFAM, CRF, Speedline (withdrew), VW, levels mirroring Germany without a
Opel, DaimlerChrysler, Chalmers significant up-turn or investment from
University, Dead Sea Magnesium, CBF companies such as Jaguar, Land Rover
Darmstadt, Volvo. Ends January 2005 and Aston Martin or by Japanese
requesting extension manufacturers. It is also believed that the
MG-ENGINE scale of activity does not always bear
MAGJOIN fruit, which has been observed by some
MG-CLUSTER for above three projects of the R&D programmes in Europe. It is
(Riso, IFAM, CRF) therefore recommended that the UK
should direct its research efforts and
CRF funding strategically in order to achieve
the greatest gains.
1996 MAGDOOR magnesium
door frame

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It is envisaged that by raising the profile


of magnesium, greater levels of up-take
will be seen, especially under pressures
to continuously reduce harmful emissions
produced by transport. Greater levels of
participation in collaborative R&D will also
follow interest in what potential
magnesium alloys and technologies have
to offer.

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9 INDUSTRY PERCEPTIONS AND


TRAINING AND EDUCATION

Beyond technological barriers, which are On the whole, the benefits of using
being addressed by R&D activities in magnesium are relatively well understood in
Europe, nothing is being done to tackle the automotive circles. This knowledge and
embedded industry perceptions, particularly acceptance is not mirrored by the rail or
relating to the corrosion and flammability of aerospace sectors, that look on magnesium
magnesium. Misperceptions can cause a with a great deal of scepticism. During the
greater degree of harm to the growth and mission, a representative of SZMT made
spread of magnesium alloys and related reference to the fact that when they have
technologies than mere technological ones. held discussions with members of the rail
Preclusion based upon misinformation has industry, the rail industry has mocked them
affected the motor industry, but this is not with statements like, magnesium is
the same situation in Germany, with end- flammable and therefore is not suitable for
users and suppliers working closely on rail applications. More success has been
developments in magnesium. met with proactive aerospace organisations
such as EADS.
In terms of training and education,
Germany has had no particular training This appears, therefore, to be a major
focus or activities that were raising opportunity for the UK. Through appropriate
magnesiums profile, and the only means of training and education programmes, greater
doing so was through the publication of awareness of the potential for magnesium
research information via the usual channels. can be achieved to the benefit of the UK.
As much of the applied research was being This may be a key focus for a UK network,
driven by the end-user, namely vehicle amongst others.
manufacturers such as VW AG, Audi AG,
BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler and their
suppliers, training and education does not
appear to be an issue for Germanys
automotive sector.

CRFs role on conducting many of the large


EU applied R&D programmes into
magnesium has given them great access to
some of the leading magnesium research in
Europe, and indeed on an international
scale. Due to Fiats links with Meridian
Technologies Inc, via MPI, Fiat group has
been at the forefront of many new
developments and applications of HPDC
magnesium, some of which involved
exploring completely unchartered territory.

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10 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

10.1 Research 10.2 Industry misconceptions

The mission to Europe confirmed that there Misconceptions within the automotive, rail
has been a considerable level of research and aerospace industries are still rife, and
activity into magnesium, their alloys, new could be tackled in a manner so as to
technologies and applications, especially alleviate some of these understandable but
automotive applications. rather primitive fears.

Research has also been conducted at all Comments such as Is magnesium that
levels, from microstructure and texture metal that ignites when exposed to air?
control to mechanical performance and are all too familiar to magnesium
component process developments. component and materials suppliers.

In particular, Germany was found to be the Although very far from the truth, such
centre of a hub for considerable research misconceptions are very damaging, and
effort into magnesium component and appear to hamper the increase in usage of
application development which incorporated magnesium within the automotive and other
a network of some 28 institutes or industries such as aerospace and rail. We all
universities researching magnesium. This remember the science classes at school
research network is also strongly allied to where a magnesium strip was ignited and
other European organisations through EU impressed everyone with its bright light and
research, and via VWs links to Dead Sea intense heat. The truth of the matter is that
Magnesium Ltd in Israel, and via GKSS and magnesium has one of the best heat-
its links with LKR in Austria. This level of dissipation qualities of all natural metals, and
focus on magnesium puts Germany as the is very difficult indeed to ignite. It has passed
world leader in terms of magnesium alloy all the ignition tests within the automotive
and process R&D. CRF were also found to and aircraft industries, without issue.
be at the heart of many developments.
Provided there is sufficient information in the
Interestingly, the significant levels of applied public domain for people to make informed
research in Germany, such as the decisions, these misconceptions could be
development of materials process eradicated, resulting in a thriving magnesium
technologies, were very well balanced by industry that could provide many solutions to
fundamental research into alloy and texture our future transport needs. It is intended that
development. Another, key aspect that was a programme be formulated to address these
noted was that the Fraunhofer Institutes had rather obvious education and training needs.
begun to work in close collaboration with
the universities to access core
competencies in more pure or fundamental
research, and therefore offer a more
rounded research package to industry.

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11 KEY FINDINGS

Casting technologies Joining technologies and integration

Rheocasting processes show significantly This remains an exciting area, as


greater potential to reach market for the developments are essential to enable large
production of structural castings than structures or assemblies to be produced,
thixocasting and thixomoulding and next to material price, will govern much
technologies, largely due to cost-related of the total piece cost.
factors. Pilot-scale trials remain necessary
to achieve implementation readiness for Surface treatments
series production. Two European
technologies show significant promise, A series of new coatings for magnesium
namely the new rheocasting (NRC) and is on the horizon, each with unique
rheo-diecasting (RDC) processes. properties. Considerable effort is still
required to improve scale-up of these
Casting alloy development technologies, at which point the economics
of using these techniques will become
Significant efforts in this field of magnesium more desirable. Like joining technologies,
research have enabled a new generation of these may become fundamental enabling
high-performance powertrain and drivetrain technologies for magnesium and its future
components to be produced, and will fuel growth and diversification.
further developments.

Wrought magnesium technology

The research to date demonstrates that


magnesium components can readily be
produced. However, the cost of wrought
magnesium remains the greatest barrier to
uptake. For sheet material, this is not likely
to change rapidly, despite technology
developments and the introduction
of innovations.

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12 RECOMMENDATIONS AND
FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS

How might the UK accelerate the Significant effort has been made to ensure
development and deployment of magnesium that this information is disseminated to
technology, and reduce the technology gap other potential industry sectors, which may
between the UK and its international rivals ultimately improve the opportunity for
or at least prevent it from growing? These are magnesium alloys to be recognised as
key issues, and arising from the mission suitable materials for lightweight design.
there are two key recommendations targeted It is aimed that this will continue.
at addressing them:

1 Create a network to strengthen the


competitiveness of the UK magnesium
supply base and related industries and
organisations. It is envisaged that this will
be an association of UK companies and
knowledge institutes that would:

Share needs and competencies to


assist both the development and
deployment of magnesium alloys and
technologies for components,
structures and systems
Provide a mechanism to train and
educate the UKs industry, particularly
non-users
Tackle potential legislative or regulatory
measures or barriers
Improve and create better international
linkages, including the host
organisations visited during
this mission

2 Conduct more basic and applied research


in the UK, into the development of:

New magnesium casting alloys


and technologies
New and improved magnesium
joining technologies
Wrought magnesium alloys and
product technologies
Magnesium coating technologies

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Appendix A
HOST ORGANISATION PROFILES

ARC Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum BMW Group


Ranshofen GmbH (LKR) www.bmwgroup.com
www.lkr.at
FIZ Research & Innovation Centre
Lamprechtshausenerstrae Munich
Postfach 26 GERMANY
5282 Ranshofen
AUSTRIA Dr-Ing A Istrate
Innovationsingenieur
Dr-Ing H Kaufman T +49 89 382 39123
Director F +49 89 382 30417
T +43 7722 83333 7007 adrian.istrate@bmw.de
F +43 7722 83333 2
Some 5,000 researchers, engineers and
Dipl-Ing Rudolf Gradinger technicians work at the FIZ, although BMW
Head of Lightweight Design Group employs over 105,000 people in
T +43 7722 83333 7007 various countries globally.
F +43 7722 83333 2
rudolf.gradinger@arcs.ac.at BMW Group is the only global manufacturer
of automobiles and motorcycles that
LKR Light Metal Competence Centre, concentrates entirely on premium standards
Ranshofen has 40 employees focused on and outstanding quality for all its brands and
R&D in light metals, particularly Al and Mg. across all relevant segments. BMW
LKR, a 100% subsidiary of the Austrian recognises the need for R&D, which is
Research Centres (ARC), provides contract demonstrated through its products. The
consultancy and R&D for industry, and has a emphasis on R&D is also demonstrated by
turnover of ~5 million. Its three key areas this companys R&D spend, which has been
of competence are materials, processing above 2 million for the last two consecutive
technologies, and manufacturing. LKR years, slightly above 10% of profit.
emerged from the former research
department of Austria Metall AG (AMAG),
the leading national aluminium-processing
company, and is therefore proficient in
working on light metals.

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Foundry Institute RWTH-Aachen GKSS Research Centre


www.gi.rwth-aachen.de www.gkss.de

Gieerei-Institut Institute for Materials Research


Intzestrae 5 Centre for Magnesium Technology
D-52072 Aachen Max-Planck-Str
GERMANY D-21502 Geesthacht
GERMANY
Prof Dr-Ing Andreas Buehrig-Polaczek
Prof Dr Karl Ulrich Kainer
Dr-Ing Martin Fehlbier Head, Centre for Magnesium Technology
Chief Engineer T +49 4152 872 590
T +49 241 80 95241 F +49 4152 872 636
F +49 241 80-92276 karl.kainer@gkss.de
m.fehlbier@gi.rwth-aachen.de
GKSS is a large research centre with an
Aachen University has ~29,000 students, annual budget of 75 million, of which
including 6,500 foreign students from 100 58 million is provided directly by the
countries, and has 260 departments and German government, 16 million by
institutes. Much of the focus of the Foundry public-funded (EU) projects and 1.8 million
Institute is on die-casting, investment by industry. GKSS employs 750 staff.
casting, numerical simulation techniques,
and alloy and material developments. The The Centre for Magnesium Technology is
institute has 58 scientists, 31 technicians, headed by Professor Karl Kainer, a central
and 80 student workers who contribute to figure in the magnesium world, who also
institute activities as part of their course. coordinates the InnoMagTec programme.
The Centre has 36 staff, including 10 PhDs,
and an annual budget of 1.9 million, of
which 25% is from third-party funding.
Core areas of research include:

Development of new cast and


wrought alloys
Optimisation of known and newly
developed processing routes for
commercial and new alloys
Microstructure, properties and modelling
Introduction of magnesium in combination
with other materials

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Salzgitter AG IFAM
(Meeting at GKSS. Co-host with GKSS) www.ifam.fhg.de
www.salzgitter-ag.de
www.szmt.de Fraunhofer-Institut fr Fertigungstechnik und
Angewandte Materialforschung
Salzgitter Magnesium-Technologie GmbH Wiener Strae 12
(SZMT) D-28359 Bremen
Eisenhttenstrae 99 GERMANY
38239 Salzgitter
GERMANY Mr Franz-Josef Woestmann
Head of Department Casting Technology
Dr Peter Juchmann T +49 421 2246 225
Managing Director F +49 421 2246 77 225
T +49 5341 21 39 57 woe@ifam.fhg.de
F +49 160 47 12 490
juchmann.p@salzgitter-ag.de Fraunhofer IFAM offers R&D services,
optimisation of casting processes,
As a young subsidiary of Salzgitter AG, and technology transfer in the following
Salzgitter Magnesium-Technologie GmbH areas of technology:
(SZMT) is dealing with the development,
production, application and sales of HPDC (hot and cold chamber)
high-quality magnesium flat-rolled products. Thixocasting
The company offers an efficient technology Squeeze casting
and material partnership for product
development and series applications. IFAM has recently installed new die-casting
equipment and is looking to engage in new
collaborative R&D programmes.

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Meridian Magnesium Products of Italy srl Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF)


(MPI) (Co-host with Meridian MPI)
www.meridian-mag.com/FacilityNav.html?MPI www.crf.it

Via Glair 41 Strada Torino 50


11029 Verres 10043 Orbassano (TO)
ITALY ITALY

Marco Parma Silvio Corrias


Plant and Business Unit Manager Head of Materials Engineering Department
T +39 0125 922 301 Advanced Process Technologies
F +39 0125 922 211 T +39 011 9083 354
mparma@meridian-mag.com F +39 011 9083 666
silvio.corrias@crf.it
The MPI plant started production of
die-casting in 1996, and today has CRF was founded in 1976 as an engineering
~250 employees working within this centre providing R&D services to each of
modern 135,000 ft2 facility. The impressive the different companies within the Fiat
MPI plant boasts 13 die-casting cells: Group. Today, although the links to Fiat Auto,
Iveco, CNH and other Fiat-owned
1 x 420 ton organisations remain as strong as ever,
1 x 900 ton Fiat now places greater emphasis on
4 x 1,500 ton collaborative business-to-business research.
7 x 2,500 ton CRF works with an extremely wide range of
organisations, including those belonging to
At MPI, magnesium components such as other sectors, such as railway, marine,
IPs, cross-car beams, seat frames and aerospace, space and military.
steering column brackets are produced for
the automotive industry using HPDC CRF has some 930 employees including
technology. Key customers include Fiat both researchers and other staff. CRF also
Auto, Jaguar, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, boasts an annual turnover of 120 million
Lear and Opel. and develops more than 450 products and
techniques annually. To date, CRF has
developed over 1,150 patents and awaits
the approval of a further 850.

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Appendix B
MISSION TEAM DETAILS

The mission team comprised nine delegates from the UK, listed in Exhibit B.1. Further details are given on
the following pages.
Original AZ31- AZ31 AZ31 AZ31
Name Organisation Location Representing
Dr Tim Wilks Magnesium Elektron Manchester Materials supplier

Mr Steve Brown Meridian Technologies Sutton-in-Ashfield Tier 1/2 supplier (die-castings)

Dr Steve Hutchins Keronite Cambridge Coatings technology supplier

Mr Rob Butler Superform Aluminium Worcester Tier 1/2 supplier (SPF pressings)

Prof Z Fan BCAST (Brunel University) Uxbridge Academia

Dr Geoff Scamans Innoval Technology Banbury Technology consultancy

Dr Roger Darlington Faraday Advance Nuneaton/Oxford Mission coordinator

Dr Martin Kemp DTI Global Watch Service Melton Mowbray Government agency

Mr Frank Rott DTI Global Watch Service London Government agency

Exhibit B.1 Mission team overview

Exhibit B.2 Mission team at Meridian MPI, Verres, Italy

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Dr Tim Wilks Mr Steve Brown


Technical Manager (UK) Business Development Manager
Magnesium Elektron Ltd (MEL) Meridian Technologies Inc (UK)

PO Box 23 Orchard Way


Swinton Calladine Business Park
Manchester Sutton-in-Ashfield
M27 8DD Nottinghamshire
UK NG17 1JU
www.magnesium-elektron.com UK
www.meridian-mag.com
Magnesium Elektron, a division of Luxfer
Group, is a dedicated service organisation
specialising in the development, Full service design and manufacture of
manufacture and supply of magnesium magnesium high-pressure die-castings.
products and services to technology These castings can be structural or non-
industries worldwide. structural. Meridian presently supplies 100%
of its services to the automotive industry.
Since the company first began processing
magnesium in 1936, its team has built an Meridian Technologies (UK)
enviable reputation for innovation, built upon
a relentless passion to push the Employees: 30
metallurgical boundaries of magnesium alloy Annual turnover: ~15 million
technology. The aim is to build lasting Machine size: 3,200 t (largest European
relationships with its clients by working with magnesium casting machine)
them, as a partner of choice, to achieve their
operational objectives.

The company is based in Manchester, UK,


but has satellite plants in North America and
Europe. It employs 640 people worldwide,
with 186 in Manchester.

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Dr Stephen Hutchins Mr Rob Butler


Commercial Director Development Manager
Keronite Ltd Superform Aluminium

Granta Park Cosgrove Close


Great Abington Blackpole
Cambridge Worcester
CB1 6GP WR3 8UA
UK UK
www.keronite.com www.superform-aluminium.com

Keronite Ltd was incorporated as a limited Manufacturer of superplastically formed


company in March 2000 to commercialise sheet aluminium components. Products
the Keronite surface treatment technology include automotive panels, aerospace
a unique plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) details, rail carriage structures, and body
process for light metal alloys. scanner ends. To date, these products have
been largely made in aluminium alloys.
In addition to its own in-house production
facilities for short-run or highly specialised Originally, Superform Aluminium was a
jobs, Keronite Ltd sells licences to coatings TI/British Aluminium Company which became
companies and to OEMs wishing to use the part of British ALCAN, and is now wholly
technology for volume production. It not only owned by Luxfer Group. The company is
provides the know-how to its licensees, but mirrored by Superform USA California.
also manufactures and supplies the
necessary machinery and associated Superform Aluminium has 85 employees
chemicals. The company has sold licences and an annual turnover of ~10 million.
and installed processing equipment in
Europe, North America and Asia.

Today the company has two wholly-owned


subsidiaries: Isle Coat Ltd and ICS
Systems. Isle Coat owns the IP relating to
the unique Keronite process. ICS Systems
not only supplies the processing equipment
for the production of Keronite coatings but
also offers metal finishing equipment
system design services, as well as a wide
range of standard and custom-built
rectifiers, heating systems, plating barrels
and other accessories.

Keronite Ltd has 18 employees and an


annual turnover of 2.2 million.

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Professor Zhongyun Fan Dr Geoff Scamans


Director Principal Scientist
BCAST (Brunel Centre for Advanced Innoval Technology Ltd
Solidification Technology)
Brunel University Beaumont Close
Banbury
Uxbridge Oxfordshire
Middlesex OX16 1TQ
UB8 3PH UK
UK www.innovaltec.com
www.brunel.ac.uk/research/bcast
Innoval Technology Ltd is a materials
Brunel University has 15,000 staff and consultancy that specialises in light metal
students, and has an annual turnover of production and utilisation in automotive,
22.2 million. architectural and packaging applications.

BCAST is an academic research centre Formed in 2003, the company presently has
focusing on both theoretical and technological 29 employees and an annual turnover of
research on solidification. It has 18 research 2.7 million (2003).
staff, the majority of whom are working on
research projects related to magnesium.

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Dr Roger Darlington Dr Martin Kemp


(Mission Coordinator) International Technology Promoter
Faraday Advance Advanced Materials, Europe
DTI Global Watch Service
Begbroke Business & Science Park
Sandy Lane Pera Innovation Park
Yarnton Melton Mowbray
Oxford Leicestershire
OX5 1PF LE13 0PB
UK UK
www.faraday-advance.net www.globalwatchonline.com/itp

Faraday Advance one of 24 Faraday The International Technology Promoters (ITP)


Partnerships is dedicated to improving the network, funded through the DTI Global
competitiveness of UK industry through Watch Service and managed by Pera
more effective interactions between the Innovation Ltd, is designed to facilitate
Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) internationally based partnerships. The role
base in advanced materials and technologies of the 18 ITPs is to provide direct assistance
for the automotive and aerospace industries. to UK companies in order to raise
awareness of, and provide access to,
With six employees, it has an annual technology-based opportunities with the
turnover of 1.5 million. worlds leading investors in R&D.

ITP support ranges from providing


straightforward information and referrals to
more in-depth assistance, perhaps involving
the setting up of licensing arrangements, or
guidance in the early stages of the transfer
of a product, technology, process or quality
improvement technique.

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Mr Frank Rott
Assistant Director, Head
DTI Global Watch Service

151 Buckingham Palace Road


London
SW1W 9SS
UK
www.dti.gov.uk
www.globalwatchonline.com

The DTIs Global Watch Service provides


support dedicated to helping UK
businesses improve their competitiveness
by identifying and accessing innovative
technologies and practices from overseas.
The Service comprises:

INFORMATION a unique website


delivering immediate and innovative
support to UK companies; plus a free
monthly magazine showcasing the latest
technologies and best practices from
around the world.

MISSIONS enabling small groups of


UK experts to visit leading overseas
technology organisations to learn vital
lessons about innovation and its
implementation to benefit entire
industries and individual organisations.

SECONDMENTS helping SMEs to send


employees abroad or receive key people
from overseas, secondments are an
effective way of acquiring knowledge,
skills, technologies and connections.

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERING free,


flexible and direct assistance delivered to
UK companies by a network of 18
International Technology Promoters (ITPs),
providing support ranging from information
and referrals to more in-depth assistance.

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Appendix C
LIST OF EXHIBITS

Exhibit Page Caption

2.1 9 Mission team at BMW (FIZ), Munich

3.1 10 HPDC cold-chamber process


3.2 12 New rheocasting (NRC) process
3.3 13 Mission team at the Foundry Institute, RWTH Aachen
3.4 14 Rheo-container process (RCP)
3.5 15 Rheocasting using cooling channel
3.6 15 Cooling channel rheocasting grain morphology
3.7 15 Thixocasting process
3.8 16 Thixocasting facility at the Foundry Institute
3.9 17 Magnesium-MMC infiltrated foam
3.10 18 Rheo-diecasting (RDC) process
3.11 19 ASTM magnesium die-casting alloy systems and relative performance
3.12 19 Performance drivers for magnesium alloy development
3.13 21 CO2-snow magnesium melt cover gas development
3.14 22 Magnesium up-caster used in EUROMAGUPCASTER
3.15 22 Magnesium foam production by low-pressure die-casting (LPDC)

4.1 25 Process window for indirect extrusion of AZ31


4.2 26 Hydrostatic extrusion process
4.3 27 LKR Take-Off project: magnesium PSU rail designs investigated
4.4 28 VW 1-litre car, incorporating wrought and cast magnesium
4.5 29 Anisotropy of magnesium sheet AZ31
4.6 29 Typical mechanical properties of magnesium sheet AZ31
4.7 30 Hot-stamped magnesium prototype parts (SZMT and IFUM Hannover)
4.8 31 Influence of lubrication on rolling magnesium sheet
4.9 32 Forged magnesium demonstration parts

5.1 33 HPDC cross-car beam displaying high levels of part and function integration
5.2 35 InMaK: applied research into the manufacture of magnesium structures
5.3 35 Laser welding of magnesium sheet: AZ31 (2-mm thick), 7 m/min, 3.3 kW
5.4 36 Friction stir welded (FSW) Mg and Mg:Al sheets
5.5 37 Cold riveting of AZ31 extrusions, and finite element process simulation
5.6 37 LKR co-extrusion research
5.7 38 Conventional steel threaded insert used with magnesium HPDCs
5.8 38 New thread-forming screw for fastening to magnesium castings
5.9 39 New metal foam threaded-insert technology

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Exhibit Page Caption

6.1 40 Corrosion performance of various magnesium and aluminium alloys


6.2 41 PAPVD coating process
6.3 42 PECVD coating process
6.4 42 Sol-gel coating process
6.5 42 Keronite (PEO) process
6.6 45 Electrochemical pen used at GKSS to determine corrosion potential
6.7 45 Coating evaluation using electrochemical, scanning pen
6.8 46 Open circuit potential scan using electrochemical pen to assess free
corrosion potential of FSW of AZ31 magnesium to AA5083 aluminium

7.1 50 Western European consumption of magnesium for die-castings


7.2 51 North and South American consumption of magnesium for die-castings
7.3 52 Mercedes-Benz 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission
7.4 53 Traditional HPDC magnesium component applications
7.5 53 HPDC magnesium seat frame
7.6 53 Magnesium die-cast tailgate inner component and mission team at GKSS

8.1 56 EU-funded R&D projects for structural magnesium

B.1 69 Mission team overview


B.2 69 Mission team at Meridian MPI, Verres, Italy

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Appendix D
GLOSSARY

A microamp
m micrometre
2D two-dimensional
3D three-dimensional
Al aluminium
AHC AHC-Oberflchentechnik GmbH (Germany)
AMC Australian Magnesium Corp Ltd
Ar argon
ARC Austrian Research Centres
ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials (USA)
BCAST Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (UK)
BIW (automobile) body-in-white
BMBF Bundesministerium fr Bildung und Forschung (Germany)
C degrees Celsius
Ca calcium
CFK carbon fibre composite
CH3OH methanol
CO2 carbon dioxide
Cr chromium
Cr6 hexavalent chromium
CRF Centro Ricerche Fiat (Italy)
CTE coefficient of thermal expansion
CTI Castings Technology International (UK)
Cu copper
CVD chemical vapour deposition
DC (1) direct-chill (casting); (2) direct current
dm decimetre
DTI Department of Trade and Industry (UK)
EADS European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company NV (Netherlands)
EB electron beam
EC European Commission
ELV end-of-life vehicle
EU European Union
F fluorine
Fe iron
FEA finite element analysis
FP4 Framework Programme 4 (EU)
FP5 Framework Programme 5 (EU)
FP6 Framework Programme 6 (EU)
FSW friction stir welding
ft foot
H2 hydrogen

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H2O water
HAZ heat-affected zone
HDO HDO Druckgu- und Oberflchentechnik GmbH (Germany)
HIP hot isostatic press
HPDC high-pressure die-casting
IFAM Institut fr Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung (Germany)
IFUM Institut fr Umformtechnik und Umformmaschinen (Germany)
IMA International Magnesium Association (USA)
IP (1) instrument panel; (2) intellectual property
IPR intellectual property rights
ITP International Technology Promoter (DTI)
IW Institut fr Werkstoffkunde (Germany)
kg kilogram
km kilometre
kt kilotonne
kW kilowatt
LAFS laser assisted friction stir (welding)
LCA life-cycle assessment
Li lithium
LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen GmbH (subsidiary of ARC)
LPDC low-pressure die-casting
m metre
MEL Magnesium Elektron Ltd (UK)
mg milligram
Mg magnesium
Mg2Si magnesium silicide
MHz megahertz
MIG metal inert gas (welding)
min minute
mm millimetre
MMC metal-matrix composite
MMW molten-metal-water
Mn manganese
MPa megapascal
mpg miles per gallon
MPI Meridian Magnesium Products of Italy srl
mpy mils per year (mil = milli-inch = 0.001 inch)
MRI Magnesium Research Institute (Israel)
mV millivolt
NaCl sodium chloride
Nd neodymium
NRC new rheocasting
NVEB non-vacuum electron beam (welding)
O2 oxygen
OCH3 methoxy group
OEM original equipment manufacturer
PAPVD plasma-assisted physical vapour deposition
PECVD plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition

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PEO plasma electrolytic oxidation


PMZ partially melted zone
PRC People's Republic of China
PSU passenger stowage unit
PVD physical vapour deposition
R&D research and development
RCP rheo container process
RDC rheo-diecasting
RE rare earth (elements) = lanthanides
RSW resistance spot welding
RTO research and technology organisation
RWTH Rheinisch-Westflische Technische Hochschule (Germany)
Sc scandium
SF6 sulphur hexafluoride
Si silicon
SiO2 silicon dioxide
SME small or medium enterprise
SO2 sulphur dioxide
SPF superplastic forming
SPR self-pierce riveting
SSM semi-solid metal
SZMT Salzgitter Magnesium-Technologie GmbH (Germany)
t tonne (= 1,000 kg)
Ti titanium
TiH2 titanium hydride
TIG tungsten inert gas (welding)
UK United Kingdom
ULM Ultra Light parts in Magnesium (project, BMBF)
US(A) United States (of America)
V (1) vanadium; (2) volt
VDC vertical downward casting
VICT Volvo indoor-cyclic corrosion test
VW Volkswagen
y year
YAG yttrium-aluminium-garnet
Zn zinc
Zr zirconium

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The DTIs Global Watch Service provides support dedicated
to helping UK businesses improve their competitiveness
by identifying and accessing innovative technologies and
practices from overseas.
Global Watch Information Global Watch Missions enabling teams of
Global Watch Online a unique internet- UK experts to investigate innovation and its
enabled service delivering immediate and implementation at first hand. The technology
innovative support to UK companies in the focused missions allow UK sectors and
form of fast-breaking worldwide business and individual organisations to gain international
technology information. The website provides insights to guide their own strategies for
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international research plus business Contact: missions@globalwatchonline.com
initiatives, collaborative programmes and
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publication, featuring innovation in action. effective way of acquiring the knowledge,
Distributed free to over 30,000 UK recipients, skills, technology and connections essential
this monthly magazine features the latest to developing a business strategically.
technology developments and practices Contact:
gleaned from Global Watch Service activities secondments@globalwatchonline.com
around the world now being put into practice
for profit by British businesses. Global Watch Technology Partnering
Contact: providing free, flexible and direct assistance
subscriptions@globalwatchonline.com from international technology specialists to
raise awareness of, and provide access to,
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published jointly by science and technology overseas. Delivered to UK companies by a
groups of the UK Government. Highlighting network of 18 International Technology
UK innovation and promoting inward Promoters, with some 6,000 current
investment opportunities into the UK, the contacts, providing support ranging from
publication is available free of charge to UK information and referrals to more in-depth
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Contact: subscriptions@ukwatchonline.com technology transfer.
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Printed in the UK on recycled paper with 75% de-inked post-consumer waste content
First published February 2005 by Pera Innovation Limited on behalf of the
Department of Trade and Industry
Crown copyright 2005
URN 05/538