Magnesium News 2018, March - Japan (Jan-Feb)
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March 2018

Japan - Magnesium Newsletter (January/February)

The Japan Magnesium Association
http://magnesium.or.jp/

Kumamoto University with 3 parties – Significant achievement on Magnesium alloy analysis

(Source: Japan Metal Daily, January 24, 2018)

Kumamoto University with other 3 parties announced that the origin of hardness was found out by analyzing Kumadai Magnesium alloy.  This performs excellent heat resistance, fire-resistance and mechanical property as well as lightness, expected structural applications such as aircraft and subway frame.  This research result is anticipated to give future direction on structural metal development.

This effort is carried out by Fukuoka University, Osaka University and JASRI(Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute)and Kumamoto University, who successfully made it clear how impurities affect to the hardness by using a large synchrotron radiation “Spring 8.”

It will contribute not only to clarify mechanical dynamics but also to give a guideline for lightweight metal R&D without containing an expensive rare earth, Yttrium.


NIMS – Development on Magnesium alloy unbreakable even against high speed deformation

(Source: NIMS Press releas, January 24, 2018)

NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science) successfully developed magnesium alloy which is deformable against compression even at “high” speed.  Due to both good deformability equal to conventional aluminum alloy and lightweight, it is expected to contribute to save weight on various parts including Automotive.

Last year the team successfully developed Magnesium alloy which shows good deformability into barrel shape by adding small amount of manganese.  However it was limited only at low speed.

So it was required not to break at higher speed in case of falling and collision.

At this advanced trial, magnesium alloy with very small amount of bismuth was prepared instead of adding manganese.  Compressed by speed 100 times higher than the one which is used at conventional evaluation at room temperature, it was found out that it did not break suddenly but broke slowly into barrel shape.

Absorption energy exceeds 5 times more than conventional magnesium alloy which means it is equal to conventional aluminum alloy.  Added bismuth didn’t exist in boundary zone between crystal grains.

While the very small amount of manganese existed in boundary zone at the previous experiment, this case was likely to accelerate more boundary grain sliding. Thanks to this achievement, further application such as Automobile, wheelchair, train plate and bike frame are expected to accelerate. In addition, two effects are also expected on both to lower process temperature which leads to energy saving and cost reduction on secondary processing such as press.
In order to widen applied parts and industry, two action plans are addressed, i.e. volume scale up and improvement to increase strength and deformation speed.

This research was carried out by Dr. Hidetoshi Somekawa, group leader of Research Center on Structural Materials, National Institute for Materials Science and this effort was announced on Scientific Reports on January 12, 2018.


SONY – aibo’s bone frame made by magnesium alloy

(Source: Nikkei Technology, January 29, 2018 and Sokeizai-tsushin, February 1, 2018)

Sony Corporation made Dog type communication robot “aibo” (ERS-1000) revived on January 11, 2018. This is for the first time in 11 years since former “AIBO”’s production/sale ended in March, 2006.  According to former AIBO’s official website, total 6 models have been released between first “ERS-110” in 1999 and last one “ERS-7M3.”

The design renewal of new “aibo” ERS-1000 succeeds old model’s concept and technical assets.  For example, movability freedoms of actuators increased from former 20 axis to 22, adding 2 motions such as waist swing and head inclination. The “aibo”s bone frame is made by Magnesium alloy to acquire both strength and lightness. Small circuit board mounting semiconductor parts, sensors and rechargeable battery are placed on magnesium alloy frame which secures the rigidity of frame.


Nexus – Extending production by Thixomolding

(Source: Diecast shinbun, January 30, 2018 and Sokeizai-tsushin, February 1, 2018)

INexus Co., Ltd is mass-producing Magnesium injection molded parts by Thixomolding. The company used to produce 3C parts such as car navigation, cell phone parts and camera housing so far.  Since a year ago, brackets (luggage and door-trim) for Lexus were added on, eying to widen automotive application. Brackets realized 60 % weight saving by replacing steel.

Company had foresight to step into magnesium as eco-material and equipped magnesium injection molding machines in 1998, utilizing plastic injection molding experience asset.  Total 6 machines are installed as of now, 850 ton×2, 650 ton×2, 222 ton×2.

Being operated by integrated manufacturing system (from tooling design to injection molding, blast, tapping and hand-finishing, in addition, direct chipping of scrap and remelting to ingot), they are eager to establish lowest cost process flow. “ Inquiry is gradually increasing.” they say and address target in larger parts.

They were established in Hirakata-shi, Osaka in 1964 and moved head factory to Kumamoto-shi, changed company name to Nexus from Asahi Industry, launched magnesium alloy injection molding business in 1998 and moved again to current Tamana-gun in Kumamoto prefecture in 2004.


Fujioka Engineering – Magnesium alloy with outstanding formability

(Source: Sokeizai-tsushin, February 1, 2018)

Fujioka Engineering Co., Ltd announced that carbon-reinforced magnesium alloy “UH alloy” which performs excellent ductility, had been decided to apply to leisure products in mass production basis.

It will be released in March. UH alloy has outstanding feature ; not to break even if being bent sharply in more than right angle at room temperature. Microphotograph observation showed grain refining without having porosity. UH alloy performs good fluidity and improves ductility, so does Aluminum alloy.
MG Precision – Adding 850 tons Thixomolding machine

(Source:Sokeizai-tsushin, February 1, 2018)

MG Precision Co., Ltd is eying to add 850 ton Thixomolding machine. This is because they have to cope with rising demand for large size magnesium parts. Installation is available at additional space in existing facility. The Japan Steel Works (JSW), Ltd., their parent who builds Thixomolding machinery, used to challenge large 1600 tons machine for Panasonic.  JSW says it is able to supply large Thixomoldng machine immediately which clamping force is <1000 tons.


Nagaoka University – Developed Magnesium alloy performing same extrudability as aluminum

(Source: Sokeizai-tsushin, February 1, 2018)

Prof. Shigeharu Kamado, Vice president of Nagaoka University of technology grasped a prospect of magnesium alloy extrusion which performs process as good as aluminum, which was announced at new technology symposium about advanced R&D on carbon reduction, hosted by Japan Science & Technology Agency on January 30.

An excellent extrusion processability is the key which may lead to mass production success. Cooperating with 5 parties i.e. National Institute for Materials Science, Tohoku University, Nagoya University, Sankyo Tateyama, Inc., Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., high-speed extrudable magnesium dilute alloy was developed after resolving processing difficulty which magnesium originally has (Patent publication #2016-169427).  Possible extrudable speed reached 20 meter/second.  TS, YS(0.2%) and EL are 300 Mpa, ≧277 Mpa and ≧15% respectively.

Small amount of Aluminum, Calcium and Manganese are contained. Average grain size and Schmidt factor on basal slip are ≦17 µm and ≦0.17 respectively.

Furthermore, by modifying this alloy, magnesium alloy added small amount of Zinc was developed (Patent Publication #2017-37769), which achieved formability same level of aluminum #6000 at room temperature.  YS ≧200 Mpa has been gained by aging.  The future issues are: 1) Repeatability on Scale up basis; 2) Evaluation, analysis of secondary process such as bending and rolling and optimization of casting process; 3) Stable weldability and Required corrosion resistance etc.


Fujifilm Corporation – High end mirrorless camera reinforced hand shaking correction function

(Source: The Nikkei, February 15, 2018 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, February 16, 2018)

Fujifilm Corporation announced the new release of mirrorless camera “X-H1” on February 15, which is the highest of high end model X-series, reinforced hand shaking correction function and moving picture function. Body stiffness is also significantly improved in case of severe environments such as dessert and snowy mountain.

It was the body structure that they focused on.  New function which reduces vibration at shuttering is adopted which allows more furious movement without stress.  Durability is enhanced.  Thicker wall makes strength doubled despite compact and light body.  “It works tough even in snowy and blazing dessert”.

On sale on March 1.  Expected retail price is approximately 240,000 JPY.


Domestic Magnesium Market - December, 2017

(Source: November issue of Import/Export Statistics (customs clearance basis) of METI. Compiled by The Japan Magnesium Association.)

Import

According to Ministry of Finance’s Import/Export Statistics released in December 2017, magnesium import became a bit correction phase (negative trend) after steady recovery in October and November.  Magnesium metal import was total 2,256.5 tons, 34.0% significant decrease on month-to-month basis (11.7% decrease from the same month of previous year).  Magnesium powder was 97.8 tons, 70.6% significant decrease on month-to-month basis (43.1% decrease), downswing from November.  Other products was 194.2 tons, 103.7% increase on month-to-month basis (173.5% increase) repeating up and down for months. The grand total was 2,548.4 tons, 33.8% decrease on month-to-month basis (8.9% decrease). 

The metal is consisted of 4 categories as follows: a) 1,891.2 tons of pure magnesium, 30.8% decrease on month-to-month basis (6.3% decrease) though import from Turkey stopped for 2 consecutive month;  b) 336.7 tons of die-casting alloys, 49.5% decrease on month-to-month basis (36.2% decrease);  c) 5.0 tons of high purity magnesium, 204.4% increase on month-to-month basis (395.2% increase);  d) 23.6 tons of casting alloy, 42.5% increase on month-to-month basis (271.9% increase) remaining favorable growth which both diecast prototype use and power hand tool application contribute to.

As for the average import price of magnesium metal in December, pure magnesium fell down to 244.7 JPY/kg, 10.5 JPY or 4.1% decrease on month-to-month basis, significantly decreased 37.4 JPY/kg from same month of previous year.  So did the price of magnesium alloys, which decreased down to 295.2 JPY/kg, 6.7 JPY/kg or 2.2% decrease on month-to-month basis.

As for the total amount of import from January to December 2017, magnesium metal was 33,209.2 tons (9.8% increase from same period of previous year), surpassing 30,000 tons for 4th straight year since 2014.  Pure magnesium metal was 27,183.5 tons (11.0% increase), high purity magnesium metal was 31.9 tons (197.7 % increase). Die-casting alloys was 5,726.9 tons (0.4% increase).  Magnesium powder was 3,533.5 tons (5.6% decrease), decreased from previous year for 4th consecutive year.  Other products was 2,328.8 tons (1.1% decrease).  Two (2) categories besides Magnesium metal was minus comparing to previous year.  The grand total of import from January to December was 39,071.5 tons, 7.5% increase comparing to same period of previous year, reflecting steady contribution of magnesium metal category.

Export

The magnesium export in December consisted of 0.8 ton of pure magnesium (71.6% decrease), 0.8 ton of magnesium alloys, 94.3% decrease on month-to-month basis (94.1% decrease).  Magnesium powder was 0.4 ton (91.1% decrease). Other products was 10.0 tons, 177.3% increase on month-to-month basis (1.5% increase) including 0.8 tons and 9.0 tons to China and Vietnam respectively. The grand total export was 12.0 tons, 32.2% decrease on month-to-month basis (60.7% decrease).

As for the total amount of export from January to December, pure magnesium metal was 106.9 tons (10 fold increase from same period of previous year), magnesium alloy metal was 119.6 tons (75.3% decrease), magnesium powder was 13.1 tons (4.0% decrease) and other products was 39.4 tons (24.5% decrease).

As for the grand total amount of export from January to December 2017 was 279.0 tons (50.2% decrease at same period of previous year).

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