The International Magnesium Association (IMA) recognized advances in magnesium technology, products and processes in the 2014 Awards of Excellence and International Environmental Responsibility Award competitions during the 71st Annual World Magnesium Conference held in Munich, Germany in June. The Awards of Excellence competition was open to all companies demonstrating outstanding examples of magnesium's use, as well as magnesium products and manufacturing technologies in three categories: Design, Process, and Application. The Environmental Responsibility Award is based on the achieved and documented reduction of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq), and is intended to include all aspects of the magnesium industry from primary production through to end-user industries. The IMA Awards of Excellence highlight how the magnesium industry is continually working to improve the manufacturing process and companies that provide innovative and improved products made from lightweight magnesium.
The Design Category includes subcategories for Cast and Wrought Products and the competition seeks unique, novel and creative designs and product developments. The winning entries in this category demonstrate design and engineering that is a significant advance over current practice.
Design - Cast Product Commercial: Christie Digital Systems for Engine Light Enclosure
The Award of Excellence in the Design-Cast Product Commercial Category was presented to Christie Digital Systems in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada for a light engine enclosure used in a projector. The enclosure, which was originally a two-part component made using the Thixomold process, was redesigned as one-piece die cast in magnesium. Changing the design yielded a number of improvements and benefits, including a 40-percent reduction in cost, improved dimensional accuracy and weight savings, according to Rob Malarky, Engineering Project Manager at Chicago White Metal Casting, Inc. in Bensenville, Illinois.
There were several challenges that had to be met in order to redesign the enclosure. Working closely with the customer, internal features that created undercuts were reviewed and redesigned, resulting in a design that was simpler and easier to manufacture. "Not only did you have a two-piece assembly, which is more expensive, but you also had the assembly dimensional component to it," said Malarky. The two-piece assembly, he noted, could "give the customer issues when they are assembling their final product down the line." By simplifying the two-piece assembly into a one-piece die cast component, the customer saved money on components, on shipping "just because you have less to send separately", and they saved time in the assembly process. The 40% cost reduction was achieved by eliminating the purchase of a second casting, die trim, additional machining and dowel pin insertions. The redesigned component went from a 2.5 lb. two-piece assembly to a 2.3 lb. one-piece die cast, achieving an 8% weight reduction for the part. "It was a win-win for both companies, really," said Malarky.
Design - Cast Product Automotive: Georg Fischer, GmbH & Company, KG for Oil Condiut Module
The Award of Excellence in the Design-Cast Product Automotive Category was presented to Georg Fischer GmbH & Co KG in Altenmarkt, Austria for an oil conduit module used in the powertrain of the Porsche Panamera. The part made using the magnesium high-pressure die casting process was developed with partner GF Automotive AG in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
"The oil conduct module is situated below the engine bloc of a combustion engine. It contains the oil reservoir and the attachment points for the oil filter and oil cooler. The module integrates the back and forward flow of the lubrication oil of the engine and ensures the degasing of the oil. The possibility to integrate many functions and attachment points and the chance to reduce weight [led] to the choice of a Magnesium die casting," noted the company in their entry.
The oil conduct module is the first of its kind produced with creep resistant magnesium alloy (MgAl4Re4), resulting in 1 kg of weight saving compared to the previous aluminum part. The magnesium design features 100% casted oil ducts, and a finished casted sealing contour for the oil-water-heat exchanger. The manufacturing process included casting, machining and assembly of the component. The supplier delivered the module complete with oil-water-heat exchanger, oil filter, reduction piece and other small parts to their customer, Porsche.
Application: Amgain Shandong Magnesium Company, Ltd. for The Application of Magnesium Extrusion in Rail Vehicle
The Application Category Award of Excellence was presented to AMGAIN Shandong Magnesium Company, Ltd. in Heze, Shangdong Province, China for "The Application of Magnesium Extrusion in Rail Vehicle" in partnership with Sunlight Metal Consulting (Beijing) Company, Ltd. in Beijing, China.
A magnesium stringer, the frame of the interior roof components in rail vehicles, has been developed by AMGAIN Shangdong Magnesium Company, Ltd. Using a 4500MT extrusion press and proprietary wide-sheet technology to develop many wide shapes, the company developed the magnesium extruded roof frame for the purpose of light weighting rail vehicles. One stringer with dimensions of 352mm wide x 137.53mm high and a length of 6115mm extruded in AZ31B magnesium alloy showed better tensile strength, yield strength and elongation compared to a similar component made from 6063-T5 aluminum alloy. The weight savings is significant, as well. The magnesium stringer piece weighs in at 52 kg, along with two pieces of relevant magnesium grille of 7300mm per piece combine for a total weight of 93.6 kg. Compared to the aluminum design, the magnesium design saved 44.3 kg in weight.
The development of this process, which competes with extruded aluminum frames, represents "a very good beginning that may lead to massive application of magnesium in the rail vehicle industry," noted the company in their entry materials. The company estimated that "due to the fast passenger high-speed train development and continu(ing) construction of metro vehicles in China, it could be a 3,000MT capacity market if magnesium replace(s) aluminum step by step."
Process: Magnesium Elektron North America for Low Temperature Warm Forming of Magnesium "Elektron®717" Sheet for Deep Drawn Automotive Panels
The Process Category Award of Excellence was presented to Magna International for Low Temperature Warm Forming of Magnesium "Elektron®717" Sheet for Deep Drawn Automotive Panels; Magnesium Elektron nominated the company for the award. Under the auspices of the NSERC (Canada) Strategic Research Network (MagNET), General Motors, Magna-Cosma, Magnesium Elektron, University of Waterloo and University of British Columbia have developed a warm forming process for successful large scale implementation of high formability magnesium sheet (Elektron®717) that enables the application of water soluble lubricants for deep drawing automobile and light truck closure panels.
In the entry materials, the companies noted that, "The introduction of magnesium sheet products represents a new light weighting opportunity in automotive applications. Direct replacement of steel components by magnesium can result in weight savings of up to 80 percent. However, traditional alloys such as AZ31B require high temperatures in order to induce sufficient plasticity. This in turn demands the use of non-aqueous , high temperature, lubricants, which required costly removal steps."
The successful production of the Elektron®717 inner door panel represents a breakthrough in forming technologies. The production rate is as much as 10-times faster than the existing hot forming technology. Furthermore, it does not require heated dies resulting in energy savings, fewer issues with dimensional control and the ability to use existing stamping dies and presses without modification. Currently available water soluble lubricants can be used. The Elektron®717 inner door panel is 58-percent lighter than the steel component which it would replace, representing a weight saving of approximately 3.5 kg per door, or 14 kg per 4-door vehicle, according to the group.
"Every gram of weight reduction matters when it comes to improving fuel economy," said Greg Warden, GM executive director for global vehicle body engineering. "Being able to replace heavier metals with one of the lightest will help us deliver better fuel economy to customers around the world while also still providing the safety and durability they expect."
Dr. Paul Krajewski , Manager for General Motors Mass Strategy, stated that "if technology is developed to produce magnesium sheet at a price which approaches aluminum sheet on a volumetric basis and associated high volume forming processes are developed, then I expect the automotive industry to be extremely interested."
As result of this successful trial, in January 2013, Dr. Bruce Davis of Magnesium Elektron North America said, "Magnesium Elektron N.A. is pleased to announce that Elektron 717 has been commuted from an experimental alloy to a commercial material. As such we will be selling it at a commercially attractive level. Elektron 717 will now be offered in bulk volumes of 1500 lbs."
Tim Skszek of Magna-Cosma noted that "since the announcement by the MagNET Affiliate Member Magnesium Elektron in January 2013 regarding commercial availability of the ZEK sheet product marketed as 'Elektron 717', nearly all of the North American OEM's have expressed an interest in pursuing warm-formed Mg sheet applications. Further, Henkel has developed and is evaluating a new surface treatment to enable the use of magnesium sheet for use in Class A painted surface applications."