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Japan April 2019 Newsletter - Magnesium News April/May 2019
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Japan Newsletter - March 2019, Vol 77

(Covering the news for February-March 2019)

The Japan Magnesium Association

Ace released new suitcase made in Japan whose casters stop just by easy one touch.

(Source: Travel Watch, March 1, 2019)

On March 1, Ace Co., Ltd released “Brick Lock” which enables open and stop by one-touch operation, from flagship suitcase domestic brand “Proteca”.  Brick lock is the new model, adopting latch type dial lock with polycarbonate/ABS plastic side case body and using magnesium frame.

In moving train and inclined slope, suitcase sometimes happens to run of itself unintentionally.  Brick Lock, whose operating switch is placed at handle bottom, equips “Magic Stop” function which locks casters by one touch.  In addition, new lock system is adopted, i.e. latch lock opens only by holding a nob at handle which is placed at side and center of luggage.

Three sizes are provided, 65 L, 82 L and 33 Litter which is able to carry-on into the plane cabin.  4 color variations are provided i.e. black, blue-grey, grass green and dark sliver.  Pricing is 78,840 JPY, 85,320 JPY and 90,720 JPY for 33L, 65L and 82L respectively.

Drone made of titanium and magnesium with zirconia painting enables to fly into fire at 300 degree.

(Source: Monoist, March 7, 2019)

Both New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and enRoute Co., Ltd, drone maker, announced on March 6 in Tokyo that they successfully developed fireproof type drone which is able to enter into fire site and to take short distance aerial pictures.  Order will be received from October 2019 and planned delivery after Spring 2020. Pricing is not disclosed as of now. Sales target is 500 sets a year.

While existing type works at fireproof 45 degree or lower, developed new type works up to 300 degree which is higher than Fireman’s clothing ISO fireproof temperature. One minute continuous operation at 300 degree is possible and capable of taking a picture even contacting to flame.  Fire resistance performance is improved on not only body but also camera and rotor. Sample shipment to fire station will start from April 2019 and be followed monitor investigation.

Fireproof type drone was developed as one of NEDO projects, “Drones and Robots for Economically Sustainable Societies project (DRESS project).” This project consists of the following 3 themes for 5 years period from 2016 to 2021; (1) Robot and drone’s performance-evaluation-standard development, (2) Development for administration service system of the unmanned plane and for collision avoidance technology, (3) International standardization establishment about robot and drone.

Magnesium is applied on body and frame.  And titanium is applied on propeller, which contributes to weight saving. In addition, surface is coated by zirconia which performs heat resistance up to 2,000 degree. Lens is covered by quartz to protect against heat. Fire proof cover guards battery and motor. Same battery is used as existing type.

At early stage of development, test was carried out by using existing method i.e. heat resistant painting on carbon body, however it failed to equip sufficient fireproof performance.  It was hard to decide which material to choose for body, propeller and painting. Moreover an issue arose on sufficient zirconia paintability even after material was decided. To resolve such issues, 2 solutions are chosen, (1) surface treatment which makes zirconia-coating easily (2) press-tooling improvement of body, frame and propeller.

Automotive related seminar in Okayama Prefecture took an EV to pieces for investigation

(Source: The Nikkei, March 8, 2019)

On March 8, Okayama Prefecture and Okayama Prefecture Industrial Promotion Foundation held a “Seminar for Strengthening competitiveness” in Okayama-city, which supports R&D capability and productivity improvement of Automotive related makers in the Prefecture.  Research on EV components structure and internal improvement activity in factory are reported.  Okayama Prefecture purchased a BMW’s small EV “i3” and took it to pieces in November 2018, cooperating with Mitsubishi motors, and has been leading the activity of structure research.  Member companies pointed out that Aluminum and Magnesium alloy were abundantly used in motor and battery case as well as main components.  It was concluded that further improvement on both process technology and cost is necessary to save weight.

In the leader training report, there were success reports on efficiency improvement of internal logistics control of bumper and on reduction of rubber hose production delay.  On March 14, Mitsubishi motors will hold a ceremony to commemorate first delivery of new light car model at Mizushima works (Kurashiki-shi) and plan to add EV model within 2019.

Ishikawa Energy Research ramps up agricultural drone production cooperating with JA group.

(Source: The Nikkan Kogyo Shinbun, March 20, 2019)

Ishikawa Energy Research Co., Ltd(Ohta-shi, Gunma Pref.)got started mass production of “Agri-flier”, flying robot for agriculture (drone).  Production capacity is 60 drones per month. The company will try to find a potential demand at agricultural area in Tochigi Prefecture and Niigata Pref. as well as Gunma Pref. through contracted sales agent JA group Gunma  Agri-flier is drone to spray pesticide. By applying magnesium alloy to body, weight saving is achieved, and strength and stiffness are significantly enhanced. Tank detaching and washing are easy and pesticide is able to pour in without detaching tank.  Pricing is roughly 1,800,000 JPY including body, battery, battery charger and insurance (tax not included). Since securing parts stock and assembly staff became in good shape, mass production plan was established internally. 700 sets are able to produce anually and after-service will be performed appropriately.

By adopting magnesium alloy which performs superior durability, the benefit to decrease total cost by operating long term will be appealed to farmers nationwide. Demand in South East Asia including sales agent in Thailand will be anticipated.

The company was founded in 2010 by former researchers in major Automotive maker. Starting with development on heat exchanger and thermal energy system, development has been extended to drone since 2015. The company is eying R&D and industrialization on construction industry as well as agriculture.

Domestic Magnesium Market - January 2019

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


According to Ministry of Finance’s Import/Export Statistics released in January 2019, magnesium metal import was 2,757.3 tons, 15.6% increase on month-to-month basis (85.6% increase from the same month previous year), surpassing 2,000 ton level for 3 consecutive months.  Magnesium powder was 406.9 tons, 164.9% significant increase on month-to-month basis (15.3% decrease). Other products was 304.1 tons, 13,350.6% increase on month-to-month basis (28.9% increase). The grand total was 3,468.3 tons, 36.4% increase on month-to-month basis (57.5% increase), sounds good start on 2019.

The metal consisted of 4 categories as follows: (a) 2,428.7 tons of pure magnesium, 43.8% significant increase on month-to-month basis (149.3% increase);  (b) 250.7 tons of die-casting alloy, 62.0% decrease on month-to-month basis (46.5% decrease);  (c) 18.0 ton of high purity magnesium, regaining two digits for the first time since July, 2018;  (d) 59.9 tons of casting alloy, 62.3% increase on month-to-month basis (39.5% increase), keeping on favorable level.

As for the average import price of magnesium metal in January, pure magnesium was 282.8 JPY/kg,  21.4 JPY or 7.0% decrease on month-to-month basis. For side note, it was 13.5 JPY/kg or 5.0% higher than previous year.  Magnesium alloys was 331.3 JPY/kg, 6.3 JPY/kg or 1.9% decrease on month-to-month basis.  And 42.4 JPY/kg or 8.0% increase comparing to previous year.


The magnesium export in January consisted of 4 categories as follows: 0 kg of pure magnesium; 17.4 tons of magnesium alloy, entirely to the US, 1,128.9% increase on month-to-month basis (32.9% decrease);  0 ton of magnesium powder;  3.6 tons of other products, 83.9% significant decrease on month-to-month basis (42.5% decrease) including 2.7 ton, 148 kg, 81 kg, 50 kg, 250kg and 146 kg to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Italy and the US respectively.  The grand total export was 21.0 tons, 19.0% decrease month-to-month basis (36.6% decrease).

Japan-China Magnesium Exchange Meeting - "2019 Asia-Pacific Magnesium Industry High-Level Forum"

In order to strengthen the exchange of magnesium industry in the Asia-Pacific region and promote the international cooperation of the magnesium industry, Magnesium Branch of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association and the Japan Magnesium Association jointly hold the “2019 Asia-Pacific Magnesium Industry High-Level Forum”.

The relevant matters are hereby notified as follows:

Date: 3 - 5 July, 2019

  • Wednesday 3 July   Reception
  • Thursday  4 July   all-day meeting  
  • Friday    5 July   half-day : Factory tour

Venue: Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk, Fukuoka, Japan
Organizers: Magnesium Branch of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, The Japan Magnesium Association
Support company: Foxconn Technology Group
Sessions: 9 speeches from China, 2 speeches from Japan

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