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Magnesium News 2017, November
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November 2017

Japan - Magnesium Newsletter (September/October)

The Japan Magnesium Association

The 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA) announced the event outline of The 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017.

Term : October 27 (Fri) – November 5 (Sun), 2017
Preview Day : October 27 (Fri) 
General Public Days : October 28 (Sat) - November 5 (Sun)
Place : Tokyo Big Sight
List of exhibiters : Passenger cars, Commercial vehicles, Motorcycles, Carrozzeria, Vehicle Bodies, Parts, Machinery and Tools, Automobile Related Services

At this Tokyo Motor Show, an endeavor will be born again with significant changes by transcending the borders of the auto industry to integrate a multiplicity of concepts and technologies with the vison of “Extending the existing values of mobility”.

For details please visit Tokyo Motor Show official website
Japan Fine Steel - Audio cable with Magnesium vibration absorbing effect

(Source: The Nikke, 22 Sep. 2017)

Japan Fine Steel Co., Ltd, Specialist in fine steel wire manufacturing, has developed and plans to release high-end audio cable adopting magnesium which has damping capacity to absorb vibration. 
By using fine magnesium wire in cable sheath as well as a core material, the speaker cable's vibration damping will be improved therefore the sound becomes clearer on high tone, and high contrast sounds are expected.

Released 2 types of line cable for connection. Magnesium with damping capacity is used as core wire, in addition surrounded by magnesium braided shield which contributes to gain further damping capacity. New product STB27C 1 meter long cable is on sale Sep. 28. 

35,000 yen 2 cables set (Tax not included).  Further enhanced model in which magnesium coil implanted inside, STB27C-Plus, on sale on October 18 at 58,000 yen (tax not included). 
Sold by Internet and at Audio specialty stores.

MACRW - “Size variable stretcher type wheelchair (for children)” jointly developed with Yokohama Rehabilitation Center

(Source: MACRW Press release, 26 Sept. 2017)

MACRW has developed a “size-variable stretcher type wheelchair (for children)” that adopts magnesium alloy for the frame. It was displayed at both Shizuoka Industrial Promotion Foundation booth and "Children's Plaza for children with disabilities" in HCR 2017 (International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition) held at Tokyo Big Sight from September 27 to 29, 2017. It is scheduled to start sales from December, 2017 including rental. 10 wheelchair sales (including rental) a year is expected through the introduction to schools for disabled children.

Yamagata University and other – Developed sensor which performs high-speed response to short wavelength UV

(Source:The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, 26 Sep. 2017)

Yuta Matsushima, Associate professor and Daisuke Fukushima postgraduate, both of Graduate school of Science and Engineering, Yamagata University developed a sensor which performs high-speed response to short wavelength UV, jointly with NEC Embedded Products, Ltd. 

It uses a principle that conductive electron is generated and electrical resistance changes by shining ultraviolet light on zinc oxide film. This response is so rapid at 10 millisecond that it enables identification of ultraviolet wavelength range. The advanced applications are expected for fire alarms which detect flame, and beauty equipment which distinguishes the kind of ultraviolet rays.

Zinc oxide film is formed on Glass substrates, all of which is covered by electrode film with a space.  When ultraviolet rays shine on zinc oxide, conductive electron is generated after zinc ionizing.  The distance between electrodes is 20 µm. Response speed is improved by adjusting zinc oxide to generate electron easier. Conventional zinc oxide sensors took several seconds to respond. Furthermore it was found that the ultraviolet ray response wavelength is controllable by adding magnesium in zinc oxide.

While additive-free zinc oxide reacts only to 380 nanometer wavelength, magnesium added one is able to react to high energy 315 nanometer, which means wavelength can be distinguished according to magnesium presence. Since flame contains mainly high energy UV, UV from lightning can be distinguished easily. The issue was zinc oxide reacted to moisture in the air just after zinc was ionized.  The point was to prevent deterioration by covering zinc oxide with electrode film which attracts electron more than moisture. Practical use is anticipated in 2018.
Hashimoto Engineering - Developed advanced magnesium alloy wheelchair

(Source:The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, 26 Sep. 2017; Keikinzoku Tsushin, 29 Sep. 2017)

Hashimoto Engineering announced on September 25 that the new foldable type wheelchair using magnesium alloy frame”X70” had been completed development.  Sales will go into full swing in April 2018.  Continued improvement of parts weight saving and process will be carried out targeting total weight less than 7 kg and sales price below 300,000 yen.  Annual sales is expected 480 units.

X70 weighs 7kg as of now, more than 1 kg lighter than conventional Aluminum frame wheelchair. Due to foldable function, related parts number increased to roughly 20 parts. However lightweight magnesium alloy tube contributed to weight saving. Target is 6 kg through parts and material thinner challenge without losing stiffness. In addition, process not using dies is adopted to reduce cost, which aims 100,000 yen lower pricing than the aluminum one.
Suncast – Moving forward focusing Robot and IoT

(Source:Diecast shinbun, 30 Sep. 2017)

Suncast Co.,ltd , Aluminum and Magnesium diecaster, will begin reorganizing head factory along with a soaring increase of orders. Prior investment on automatization project starting 2014 went successful, which resulted in doubled annual sales compared to a few years ago up to the level of first-ever 4 billion yen in fiscal 2017. While the company has kept on expanding since foundation, it will keep on promoting the complete automation by robot and aims to transform to the organization system actively adopting IoT and AI technology.

The target is “Manufacturing which enables to win the competition against inbound products in both quality and cost.” President Mouri says, “Automation will be accelerated in administrative division such as PC inputting as well as production process. What man and woman should do is the parts which wisdom and idea are unable to be replaced by machines. By this we should not get exhausted physically and create a work regime that can get to earn well within 8 hours without overtime work, manufacturing system through robotization is a part.”

Their product lines are wide over such as pneumatic equipment, hydraulic equipment, audio and home electric appliances and communication equipment. Production amount is 60 ton and 15 ton for Aluminum and Magnesium diecasting respectively. They possess total 16 machines of 85 – 500 ton of Toshiba and Toyo Machinery & Metal for Aluminum, 1 machine of 600 ton IDOLA and 2 thixomolding machines for Magnesium. Magnesium applications are the camera housing and optical fiber parts, which operate at a rate lower than aluminum.  85 ton machine will be renewed in this fiscal year.

Tsukuba Diecasting - Mass production of magnesium large parts

(Source:Diecast shinbun, 30 Sep. 2017)

Tsukuba Diecasting Co., Ltd. will acquire Quality control international standard IATF16949(Ver.2016 revised in October 2016) at both Tono and Miyagi factories in June 2018, instead of ISO/TS16949.  Furthermore largest-ever 1,250 ton diecast machine will be equipped in Miyagi factory, the magnesium production base. The existing maximum size is 1,000 ton and 800 ton for aluminum and magnesium respectively, new largest 1,250 ton will cope with large size parts demand.

A total of 13 machines for magnesium from 150 to 1,250 ton are equipped.  While lightweight trend is accelerating in aluminum application, magnesium demand is still in the back and forth. However, monthly magnesium parts production reaches 170 ton per month, which is growing almost to the 200 ton level of aluminum. Miyagi factory was established in 1998 which has produced IT, AV and optical devices and automotive parts by integrated process from casting to painting.

New processing development is also carried out such as hybrid process (ultra thin wall magnesium housing + plastic insert molding). There is magnesium production overseas based in Hungyen, Vietnam which is the first magnesium diecast factory in Vietnam and producing ultra thin wall products and complicated shape products keeping same quality as Japan, by integrated system as above - leading magnesium production complex in Southeast Asia.


Domestic Magnesium Market - August, 2017

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


Based on Import/Export Statistics of August 2017, magnesium metal import was total 3,006.7 tons,
29.9% significant decrease on month-to-month basis (13.7% increase from the same month previous
year), which decrease was due to high volume imported in previous month however managed to
keep level of 3,000 tons. Magnesium powder was 403.5 tons, 3.5% decrease on month-to-month
basis, decreasing for consecutive 2 month however relatively high (23.4% increase, stable).

Other products had regained in July after significant decrease in June however it decreased down to
186.8 tons, 44.9% decrease on month-to-month basis (33.7% decrease), which decreased to 100tons
level while it had kept 200tons level until March.  Total was 3,596.9 tons, 20.9% decrease on
month-to-month basis (10.6% decrease).

The metal category consisted of 4 products as follow:; a) 2,330.1 tons of pure magnesium, 20.7% or 1,000tons significant decrease on month-to-month basis (15.6% increase).  Imports from Turkey was stable at 26.6 tons;  b) 632.4 tons of die-casting alloys, 43.9% increase on month-to-month basis (1.9% increase);  c) high purity magnesium fell again to 0 ton; and d) 44.3 tons of casting alloy, 67.7% increase almost doubled on month-to-month basis (454.7% increase). Since casting alloy was generally used for prototype trial before diecast mass production, it implied that magnesium parts trials for saving weight were increasing.

As for the average import price of magnesium metal in August, the price of pure magnesium was 235.1 yen per kg, 4.2 yen per kg or 1.8% lower on month-to-month basis.  For side note, both China and Turkey prices decreased to 234.8 yen and 262.9 yen per kg respectively.  The price of magnesium alloys decreased to 288.8 yen per kg, 10.2 yen decrease on month-to-month basis (3.4% decrease).

As for the total amount of import from January to August 2017, magnesium metal was 23,167.4 tons (30.5% increase, from the same period previous year), magnesium powder was 2,630.6 tons (1.3% increase) and other products was 1,681.0 tons (3.5% decrease).  The grand total amount of import from January to August was 27,479.0 tons, 24.4% increase comparing to same period previous year.


The export of magnesium in August consisted of 12 kgs of pure magnesium to USA, 13.9 tons of magnesium alloys, 8.4% increase on month-to-month basis (85.7% decrease), entirely to Taiwan.  
0.8 tons of magnesium powder and granules,113.9% increase on month-to-month basis (28.7% decrease), and other products was 3.3 tons, 12.4% decrease on month-to-month basis (66.2% increase) including 0.3 tons and 3.0 tons to China and Vietnam respectively. The grand total export was 17.9 tons, 6.2% increase on month-to-month basis (82.1% decrease).

As for the total amount of export from January to August, pure magnesium metal increased to 106.1 tons (33.2 times of that at the same period previous year), magnesium alloy metal was 92.9 tons (70.7% decrease), magnesium powder was 7.1 tons (35.3% increase) and other products was 17.7 tons (16.3% increase). The grand total of export from January to August was 223.8 tons (34.2% decrease).

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