Magnesium Casting Industry Technology Roadmap

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This Roadmap was prepared by Katie Jereza, Ross Brindle, Gareth Williams, and Julie Chappell of Energetics
Incorporated in Columbia, Maryland. The report was prepared with support from the Energy Systems Division
of Argonne National Laboratory and under the direction of John N. Hryn, Ph.D., Division Chair of the American
Foundry Society (AFS), Magnesium Division 6. Guidance for this project was provided by Steve Robison, AFS
Technical Director; David Weiss, Eck Industries; and Bruce Cox, DaimlerChrysler Corporation.
                                Executive Summary
The North American magnesium casting             2.   Information Management & Sharing
industry is at a pivotal juncture. Society is         – Accelerate technological innovation by
growing increasingly mobile, affluent, and            increasing information sharing and tech-
environmentally aware. Tremendous techno-             nology transfer to attain market growth.
logical advances continuously raise consumer
expectations for better products and services    3.   Infrastructure Development – Stimulate
at ever lower costs. To survive and prosper           industry-wide advancement by building
in these intensely competitive and challeng-          shared resources in R&D, auxiliary sup-
ing times, the magnesium casting industry is          port, and people.
transforming itself.
The American Foundry Society (AFS) Magne-        These three components are closely inter-
sium Division 6 has sponsored a collaborative    twined and each is critical to ensuring success.
effort to examine the future of the magnesium    Information management and sharing and in-
casting industry, determine the highest prior-   frastructure development must occur together
ity needs to overcome important challenges,      to support developments in process technol-
and chart a course for successful growth in      ogy. The industry is committed to pursuing a
the next 15 years. At the heart of this ef-      robust R&D agenda that recognizes the need
fort is a desire to build a consensus among      for a balance of near-term and long-term
industry and key suppliers, customers, prod-     research, new technology development and
uct manufacturers, and researchers about the     related training, education, and collaboration.
actions needed to defend existing markets and    The specific R&D needs for each of the above
capitalize on new opportunities. The Magne-      technology strategies are presented in separate
sium Casting Industry Technology Roadmap         sections of this roadmap. An overview of the
outlines the strategic technology agenda for     Roadmap is presented on the following page.
achieving the needs and expectations of the
industry and its customers.                      The financial and intellectual resources needed
                                                 to accomplish the objectives of this Roadmap
The technology strategy of the magnesium         are beyond the reach of individual companies
casting industry has three principal compo-      and even the industry as a whole. Successful
nents:                                           technology development usually benefits from
                                                 a coordinated strategy that engages key sup-
1.   Process Technology – Develop advanced       pliers, manufactures, and customers to accom-
     process technologies to improve afford-     plish mutual technology goals. Government,
     ability and competitiveness of magnesium    universities, and nonprofit organizations can
     cast components in all markets that value   also contribute to these goals, provided there
     lightweight performance metals.             are clear public benefits and the activities are

                                                 Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
appropriate to their missions. As this docu-     ago. At the same time, intense competition
ment demonstrates, plentiful benefits are to     from alternative metal castings and materi-
be found in expanding the use of magnesium       als will force the magnesium casting industry
castings.                                        to provide exceptional products and services
                                                 while containing costs. Magnesium found-
The magnesium casting industry looks to the      ries must aggressively pursue innovations in
future with great optimism and determination.    technology. By doing so, the magnesium cast-
New applications in lightweight components,      ing industry can seize new opportunities and
clean transportation and electromagnetic pro-    bring increased value to the changing materials
tection are opening up large new markets for     market.
magnesium castings that did not exist a decade

                                               Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   v
                                                       Table of Contents
1.	 Magnesium	Casting	Industry	Today	.................................................................................... 1

2.	 Key	Trends	and	Drivers	....................................................................................................... 3

3.	 Technology	Strategy	............................................................................................................ 7

         a.	 Process	Technologies	............................................................................................... 9

         b.	 Information	Management	and	Sharing	................................................................... 15

         c.	 Infrastructure	Development	................................................................................... 19

4.	 Top	Priority	Activities	 ....................................................................................................... 23

5.	 Portfolio	Development	...................................................................................................... 31

6.	 Contributors	..................................................................................................................... 33

7.	 References	......................................................................................................................... 35

v                                                                        Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   v
                     1. Magnesium Casting
                            Industry Today
Magnesium Castings: High-                          magnesium-bearing minerals, which are global-
                                                   ly widespread and virtually unlimited. In 2004,
Performance Components for                         U.S. magnesium imports were about 18 per-
Automotive, Aerospace, and other                   cent higher than 2003, with Russia (60%) and
Lightweight Applications                           Israel (26%) as the principal sources.1 Exports
                                                   for 2004 were 42 percent lower than in 2003.1
Magnesium castings are light, abundant, and        Currently, U.S. magnesium metal production
recyclable. The lightest of all commonly used      consists of a single company in Utah, using an
metal castings, magnesium castings dampen          electrolytic process that recovers magnesium
noise and vibration, are highly impact and         from the Great Salt Lake.
dent resistant, and are easily machined. Per-
haps the most important advantage of mag-          Magnesium metal is primarily used as an al-
nesium castings is found in the environmental      loying element to impart strength and rigidity
performance gains in automotive applications.      in alloys used in aluminum applications, such
Lightweight magnesium components have              as packaging, transportation, and others. The
better strength-to-weight ratio than alumi-        second largest use of magnesium is in the
num or steel castings, thereby reducing the        casting of components for product manufac-
total vehicle weight and leading to improved       turing. As shown in Figure 1-1, the largest and
fuel economy, increased safety and handling,       fastest growing market for magnesium cast-
significantly lower emissions, and increased       ings is in the automotive market, due largely to
recyclability. In addition, there are many other   increased interest for lightweight components
applications for cast components ranging from      that can improve fuel efficiency.2
aerospace, power
tools, sporting goods,      Figure 1-1. U.S. Magnesium Casting Markets Based on Tons Shipped
and computer and
electronic products.
Remarkably abun-
dant, magnesium
constitutes about two
percent of the Earth’s
crust and is the third
most plentiful ele-
ment dissolved in
seawater. Magnesium
metal is produced
from seawater, well
and lake brines, and

                                                   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Since the 1980’s, the aerospace industry has      Sporting goods, such as fishing poles and reel
used magnesium castings in stiffness-critical     parts, has been a significant market for mag-
air frames and related drive train structures.    nesium castings. A magnesium cast fishing
The aerospace market has long recognized          reel frame is lightweight and comfortable,
the benefits of increased fuel efficiency and     yet durable enough to handle difficult fishing
reduced noise, vibration, and pollution result-   maneuvers. Fishing reel manufacturers use
ing from the use of lightweight magnesium         magnesium castings for its excellent surface
components. The sophisticated and complex         finish and its ability to achieve tight tolerances
needs of the aerospace market demand suit-        of bores and surfaces, enabling fast and simple
ably high performance components, resulting       component assembly. Magnesium castings
in the highest cost-per-ton of all magnesium      that improve product appearance and per-
markets. Accordingly, while aerospace appli-      formance and increase manufacturing speeds
cations account for less than five percent of     will continue to foster growth in the sporting
annual magnesium casting shipments, those         goods market.
applications generate over 10 percent of total
magnesium casting sales.2                         Magnesium castings are also used in the com-
                                                  puter and electronic products market. One
The second largest market in volume for mag-      of the most critical physical property require-
nesium castings is in power tools, particularly   ments of an electronic device enclosure is the
chainsaws. As a hand-held and potentially         ability to act as a shield against electromagnetic
dangerous power tool, minimizing chainsaw         interference (EMI). EMI impairs the perfor-
weight is essential for improved operator         mance of an electronic system through un-
safety and handling. While magnesium gear         wanted electromagnetic disturbance which can
cases and cutting arms are primarily selected     come from any circuit or device that carries
for light weight and strength properties, the     an electrical current. Cast magnesium alloy
ease in which these components are assembled      enclosures for EMI shielding provide signifi-
is increasingly important. Chainsaw manufac-      cant advantages in weight savings, raw material
tures benefit by using tight tolerance magne-     costs, structural strength, and durability over
sium components that do not require second-       both plastic and alternative metal housings.5
ary machining.                                    As consumer demand for computers and elec-
                                                  tronic equipment continues to grow along with
                                                  continued pressures to reduce size, weight, and
                                                  cost and increase recyclability, magnesium is
                                                  well positioned to meet these demands.

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                                    
          2. Key Trends and Drivers
Wide Application, Great Potential                   Figure 2-1. U.S. Magnesium Casting
                                                                Shipments 1945-2004
In 2004, the U.S. magnesium casting industry
culminated ten years of remarkable growth
by shipping nearly 100,000 tons of cast-
ings (Figure 2-1). Prior to 1995 the previous
market high was just over 40,000 tons, reached
in 1945.2 Central to this expansion has been
the growing use of magnesium die cast com-
ponents in automobiles, which more than
doubled between 1990 and 2000. Compo-
nents in which magnesium alloy replaced steel
or aluminum includes brake and clutch pedal
brackets, instrument panels, cylinder head cov-     Source: AFS 2004
ers, transfer case housings, intake manifolds,
and seat components.                                Automotive Opportunities
Auto manufacturers initially incorporated           During the past decade alone, use of magne-
magnesium alloys as a means to reduce weight        sium castings in light vehicles has grown an
and meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy             average of 16% per year and is predicted to
Standards (CAFÉ) mandated by the U.S.               continue growing at an annual rate of 11.5%
government. Once magnesium castings came            for the next decade.2
into use, however, many other advantages            Automakers are expected to continue to rely
became apparent. For example, parts that            on magnesium to reduce the weight of vehi-
had to be made by welding together several          cles; the consumption of magnesium castings
stamped steel pieces could be produced as a         per light vehicle is forecast to triple by 2014
one- or two-piece magnesium casting, signifi-       (Figure 2-2).2 New applications of magnesium
cantly reducing the cost of the finished part.      castings are expected to include increased use
Outstanding fluidity in the molten state allows     in instrument panels and brackets, seat frames,
magnesium components to be cast in thin-            steering column components, transmission
walled near-net-shapes, subsequently reducing       cases, cylinder head covers, radiator support,
the amount of material used. Further, magne-        and intake manifolds. Magnesium concepts in
sium is easily machined, significantly increasing   prototype development include roof panels,
tool life and reducing production time, de-         structural supports, rear deck lids, reinforce-
creasing costs, and increasing productivity.        ment panels, inner doorframes, engine heads,
                                                    engine blocks, engine cradles, oil pans, and grill

                                                    Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Figure 2-2. Consumption of Magnesium              magnesium usage will help the auto industry
            Castings per Light Vehicle            meet future Federal CAFÉ targets and reduce
                                                  exposure to CAFÉ penalties. Cast magnesium
                                                  structures have the potential to reduce vehicle
                                                  mass by 100 kg, which could reduce emissions
                                                  and fuel consumption by approximately five

                                                  Innovative Process Technologies
                                                  The magnesium casting industry has relied
                                                  heavily on the die casting process for market
                                                  expansion. The industry has enjoyed enor-
Source: AFS 2004                                  mous growth through the production of die
                                                  cast components in automotive applications,
reinforcements. Such technologies can reduce      and many opportunities still exist due to cast-
U.S. dependence on imported oil, further de-      ing process limitations. For example, current
crease vehicle emissions, and serve as a bridge   investment casting techniques have inhibited
from today’s conventional powertrains and         magnesium’s growth in markets that could
fuels to tomorrow’s hydrogen-powered hybrid       consume nearly 300 million additional tons
fuel cell vehicles.                               annually.4 Novel technologies that improve
                                                  structural integrity of magnesium components
Aiding these development efforts are the
                                                  for aerospace applications offer the great-
Automotive Lightweighting Materials (ALM)
                                                  est potential in volume and margin for sand
activities of the U.S. Department of Energy’s
                                                  cast magnesium components.2 New uses for
(DOE’s) FreedomCAR and Vehicle Tech-
                                                  magnesium increasingly require properties or
nologies (FCVT) Program, which focuses on
                                                  cast geometries that are beyond the capabilities
development and validation of cost-effec-
                                                  of the industry. Expanding the capabilities of
tive lightweighting materials technologies to
                                                  the magnesium casting process will help the
significantly reduce automobile weight with-
                                                  industry reap the full potential of these oppor-
out compromising vehicle cost, performance,
safety, or recyclability.
The ALM Fiscal Year                                                     While magnesium castings
2004 Progress Report                    Expand industry                 offer plentiful benefits,
indicated that magnesium         capabilities to reap the full costs must be contained
projects will be empha-                                                 to stay competitive with
sized over the next few           potential of new market alternative metal castings
years because they offer
the greatest weight-re-
                                          opportunities.                and materials. Reduc-
                                                                        ing manufacturing costs
duction potential. Mag-                                                 by improving recycling
nesium components are                            capabilities, is one strategy that could make
envisioned to replace an equivalent volume of    magnesium components less expensive. For
ferrous material with a mass reduction of 70-    example, scrap generated during die-casting
75 percent and aluminum with a reduction of      can exceed the final component weight. In
25-35 percent,3 and two projects are currently   fact, metal losses during the casting process
underway: the Structural Cast Magnesium          can be as high as 60%.7 In North America,
Development (SCMD) project and the Mag-          the high cost of recycling magnesium scrap
nesium Powertrain Cast Components (MPCC)         can be attributed to expensive quality assur-
project. The ability to significantly increase   ance procedures and lack of sufficient volume

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                                  
(about 70,000 tons in 2003)6 to substantiate a   gas, such as SF6, modifies and stabilizes the
secondary market for magnesium. However,         MgO surface film to form a protective layer
the volume of magnesium recyclables is pre-      that prevents further oxidation.
dicted to grow enough over the next decade to
achieve economies of scale and significantly     In just a few short years, EPA and its magne-
impact the affordability of magnesium cast-      sium industry partners have made tremendous
ings.                                            progress, reducing emissions intensity by more
                                                 than 40% between 1999 and 2002. Cost-ef-
Increasingly Environmentally                     fective pollution prevention is being realized
                                                 through optimized equipment designs and
Friendly                                         operation and improving SF6 gas management
In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection       practices. These activities and technologi-
Agency and the U.S. magnesium industry, with     cal innovations have directly contributed to
the support of the International Magnesium       the partnership’s success and provided both
Association (IMA), launched a voluntary          economic and environmental benefits. In
partnership to promote technically feasible      February 2003, EPA’s partners and the IMA
and economically attractive actions aimed at     added their support to the President’s Climate
minimizing emissions of sulfur hexafluoride      VISION initiative by establishing a goal to
(SF6), a greenhouse gas with a strong global     eliminate SF6 emissions by the end of 2010.
warming potential. Magnesium producers,          To meet this technically aggressive commit-
casters, and recycling companies use a cover     ment, the industry will need to further evaluate
gas of dilute SF6 in dry air and/or carbon di-   and implement alternative cover gases.
oxide (CO2) to protect the molten metal from
oxidation. Without protection, molten mag-
nesium will oxidize in the presence of air and
form magnesium oxide (MgO) inclusions that
greatly reduce the quality and strength of the
final product. In contrast, an effective cover

                                                 Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
                    3. Technology Strategy
Never before has the magnesium casting               •      Process Technology – Improved pro-
industry faced such a wealth of opportunities               ductivity, efficiency, and operational
and challenges, and now is entering a period                environment while delivering consistent,
of transformation. Economic globalization,                  high-quality castings at competitive costs
environmental issues and new technologies                   has long been a pursuit of the industry.
have forced magnesium foundries to reevalu-                 Progress in advanced process technolo-
ate their existing business strategies and identi-          gies to increase the range of cast geom-
fy new business models for future success. To               etries and properties and related enabling
ensure future viability, the magnesium casting              technologies that support them is essential
industry is forging strategic alliances, provid-            in increasingly competitive lightweight
ing innovative products and services, offering              components markets.
unique technology solutions, delivering supe-
rior value to customers, setting new standards       •      Information Management & Sharing
of safety and environmental protection, and                 - Accelerating technological innovation
maintaining competition and profitability.                  requires that information be shared and
                                                            technology transferred. Effective shar-
New technologies and practices will bring in-               ing allows industry to more readily adopt
novative products and services to customers                 developing technologies in the near term
and improve the productivity and profitability              and maintain a sustainable competitive ad-
of the industry. However, technology alone                  vantage of the industry in the long term.
is insufficient to fully ensure industry-wide
growth. A well-grounded research and tech-           •      Infrastructure Development - The small
nology agenda is the cornerstone for future                 size of the industry limits its ability
success. The industry is committed to pursu-                to allocate major capital for unproven
ing a robust research and development agenda                technologies, grow a network of auxil-
and recognizes                                                                            iary support,
the need for a                                                                            and attract a
mix of near-                                                                              viable work-
and long-term                                                                             force. As a
research, new                                                                             result, only
technology de-                                                                            incremental
velopment and                                                                             improvements
related training,                                                                         to alloys and
education, and                                                                            processes
collaboration. The technology strategy of the               have been made. Infrastructure develop-
magnesium casting industry has three principal              ment must include major research and

                                                        Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
    development investments in manufactur-       While process technology developments lead
    ing process and casting techniques and       the R&D agenda, coordinated improvements
    influence auxiliary groups and potential     in information management & sharing, and
    employees to become more involved in         infrastructure development are fundamental
    magnesium in order to ensure the viability   to supporting progress in the process technol-
    of the industry for years to come.           ogy area and crucial to achieving the technol-
                                                 ogy goals of the industry. The specific R&D
                                                 needs for each area are detailed in the follow-
                                                 ing pages.

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                                 
                                               3a. Process Technology

The magnesium casting industry must improve         •      Process optimization – Magnesium cast-
productivity, efficiency and operational en-               ing companies must be efficient and agile
vironment while delivering consistent, high-               to respond to customer expectations and
quality castings at competitive costs. As such,            market changes. The magnesium casting
advanced process technologies are essential                industry must continue its efforts to cost-
to the continued success of the industry in                effectively develop and produce castings
increasingly competitive markets. The pro-                 faster while improving casting quality and
cess technology area is extremely diverse and              consistency. While reducing lead times
includes die casting, sand casting, semisolid              and increasing productivity are essential to
processes, permanent mold casting, low pres-               the financial success of the industry, con-
sure casting, lost foam casting, squeeze casting,          tinued progress in effectively increasing
and investment casting.                                    the range of magnesium cast geometries
                                                           and properties is paramount to determin-
In order to fully realize emerging market op-              ing how competitive the industry will be
portunities, alternative metal casting methods             in the future.
must be developed. The demand for mag-
nesium die castings has risen significantly in      •      Product quality – Lightweight compo-
automotive applications, and current die-cast              nents of the future will be revolutionized
methods alone cannot meet future demands;                  by new materials as technological break-
applications increasingly require properties or            throughs improve component manufac-
cast geometries that cannot be produced using              turability and environmental friendliness.
current magnesium casting techniques. For                  New product applications are driving pro-
example, the aluminum industry has exploited               cess developments that enable lightweight
the investment casting process to capture                  materials to consistently meet desired
almost $390 million in annual sales,4 while ap-            component performance characteristics.
plication in the magnesium industry has been               However, competitive materials, such as
limited due to current capabilities. The devel-            steel, cast iron, aluminum, and plastics
opment of new magnesium casting process                    have made great strides in this regard
technologies and related enabling technologies             while magnesium’s progress has been slow
are essential to encouraging new magnesium                 due to its limited capability to predict cast-
component applications in all markets.                     ing properties.
Critical Challenges                                 •      Environmental and safety performance
Critical process technology challenges, as high-           – Magnesium castings produced in North
lighted in the following chart, can be divided             America compete in the international
among three key issues:                                    market with castings produced in coun-
                                                           tries with less demanding environmental

                                                       Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
    standards and where the cost of environ-
    mental control is significantly lower. To
    stay competitive and cope with the rising
    cost of environmental compliance, the
    industry must examine ways to reduce
    or reuse waste during processing as well
    as methods to increase the reuse of old
    consumer components. Technologies that
    reduce or eliminate waste and improve
    performance will greatly enhance the fu-
    ture success and world-wide competitive-
    ness of the industry.

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   0
   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Research and Development Needs                    •   New Casting Technologies – Current
                                                      magnesium casting capabilities limit the
To meet the process technology demands of             range of geometries and properties that
the next fifteen years, the magnesium casting         can be used in new applications. The
industry must undertake near-term (0-5 years),        development of new magnesium cast-
mid-term (5-8 years), and long-term (>8 years)        ing process technologies and the related
research and development activities. These            enabling technologies are essential to
activities can be divided among seven areas of        encouraging the use of magnesium in new
research:                                             component applications.
•   Alloy Optimization – Understanding
    magnesium quality and consistency issues      •   Molten Metal Handling – Due to the
    is paramount to increasing the use of             high global warming potential of SF6, the
    magnesium castings. Alloy property and            industry recognizes the need to develop
    defect data availability and access must be       and implement alternative melt protec-
    improved to enable the design and devel-          tion technologies that prevent metal losses
    opment of new magnesium components.               and oxide contamination prior to casting.
    Notably, improved understanding of heat           Also, improved methods of transferring
    treatment methods and their effects on            liquid metal must be developed to reduce
    alloy properties will allow magnesium             dross and improve operator handling.
    casters to develop alloys that exploit
    magnesium’s advantages as a lightweight       •   Data Generation – Despite the increases
    structural material.                              in available data on the mechanical, physi-
                                                      cal, performance, and design properties
•   Corrosion Mitigation – Affordable and re-         of magnesium castings, wide variation in
    liable corrosion prevention strategies must       data and numerous information gaps still
    be developed to maintain magnesium’s fa-          exist. For example, low confidence in test
    vorable position in aerospace applications        bar databases requires thicker than neces-
    and to increase the use of magnesium in           sary component sections to ensure in-ser-
    all markets. Components designed for ex-          vice safety. An improved understanding
    terior and harsh environment applications         of test specimens is needed to improve
    must display corrosion resistance, par-           the accuracy of property databases, allow
    ticularly in the aerospace industry where         components to be designed with thinner
    concerns about structural degradation in          walls without compromising component
    airplane and helicopter components due            function and durability, and reduce costs.
    to in-service corrosion are highest.
                                                  •   Recycling – Recycling of high quality
•   Modeling – Developing modeling and                magnesium scrap from the casting process
    prototyping capabilities will allow the           demands only five percent of the energy
    industry to rapidly design new compo-             required to manufacture the primary
    nents, control final product properties and       metal. As such, recycling is a key element
    reduce scrap and rework. A growing trend          in increasing the affordability of magne-
    toward product customization, low-volume          sium cast components. Because mag-
    production, and quick turnaround time has         nesium oxidizes so readily, new recycling
    boosted the importance of rapid prototyp-         technologies that can minimize oxidation
    ing. Although several rapid prototyping           of in-house scrap are needed to reduce
    technologies already exist, these systems         metal losses and contamination.
    need to become more affordable to en-
    courage wide spread use in the industry.      Specific research and development needs for
                                                  each area are presented on the following page.
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                                
   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
         3b. Information Management & Sharing

Advancing scientific research and development     Critical Challenges
into technological innovation require that
information be shared, knowledge exchanged,       Critical challenges to information management
and technology transferred. Despite a wealth      and sharing, as highlighted in the following
of new information management tools cre-          chart, can be divided among three key issues:
ated by progressive computer technologies, the    •      Knowledge Exchange – Limitations in the
magnesium casting industry has yet to fully en-          accuracy and availability of data on mate-
gage their potential for disseminating informa-          rial and design properties have hindered
tion about magnesium alloy quality and perfor-           demand for cast magnesium components.
mance, research and development programs,                Coordination within the magnesium cast-
and industry news. Computer-based informa-               ing industry, with other industries, and
tion tools could lower design costs by link-             internationally must occur to facilitate
ing designers and foundries together, thereby            knowledge and technology transfer as well
increasing the accuracy of new component                 as accelerate technology development and
construction. Improved communication from                deployment.
design to production would allow product
designers to better understand the process        •      Technical Resources – In spite of the
capabilities of a foundry, and foundries to              increases in available data on the mechani-
develop processes to meet the performance                cal, physical, performance, and design
requirements of a design.                                properties of magnesium castings, there
A culture change to facilitate the sharing of            remains a wide variation in the data and
information among equipment manufacturers,               few sources of information exist. The
foundries, national laboratories, consultants,           development of a solid base of techni-
universities, and government will help the               cal resources will help improve existing
industry develop magnesium casting technolo-             products and develop new applications
gies for market growth in the near term and              to better compete with alternative ma-
ensure viability of the industry for years to            terials, metal-forming techniques and
come.                                                    foreign castings. Further enhancement
                                                         and increased availability of the industry
                                                         knowledge base is needed to increase user
                                                         confidence and help magnesium castings
                                                         penetrate new markets.

                                                  •      Public Perception – The magnesium cast-
                                                         ing industry must position itself as a safe,
                                                         user friendly, reliable and affordable mate-

                                                    Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
    rial for a variety of applications. Con-    applications will ensure existing and
    sumer choices for competing lightweight     potential customers consider magnesium
    materials continue to expand as govern-     when evaluating component materials.
    ment regulations tighten and cost pres-
    sures increase. Consumer and producer
    education about the uses and advantages
    of magnesium castings for a variety of

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                       
Research and Development Needs                     •      Knowledge Exchange – Mechanisms
                                                          that encourage knowledge sharing and
To meet the information management and                    transfer are crucial to fostering innovation
sharing demands of the next fifteen years, the            and commercialization. The magnesium
magnesium casting industry must undertake                 casting research network is complex and
near-term (0-5 years), mid-term (6-8 years),              expanding. To facilitate technology trans-
and long-term (>8 years) research and de-                 fer, communication among researchers,
velopment activities. These activities can be             government and industry must increase
divided among four areas of research:                     dramatically. Companies, both large and
•    Technical Resources – Mechanisms for                 small, must gain a better understanding
     information exchange will foster repro-              of funding resources, such as government
     ducibility, allow quantitative comparisons           programs, and how to work together to-
     of experimental and production methods,              ward building the research foundation for
     promote communication between process                the magnesium casting industry.
     and design communities, and facilitate
     the development of a comprehensive            •      Outreach – The general public and stu-
     database of magnesium casting alloys                 dent population lack an understanding of
     and processes. Given the breadth of the              emerging magnesium casting technolo-
     research and development challenges, nu-             gies and their potential benefits to society
     merous technical resources are needed so             and the economy. Steps must be taken
     researchers, casters and designers can col-          to ensure that consumers and future
     laborate, improve the lessons learned by             workers are informed about magnesium
     others, and improve the cost effectiveness           casting technology and magnesium cast
     of research. Results from all pre-com-               components. For example, a road show
     petitive, government-funded research will            of presentations targeted at end users
     be the primary information source, which             and college students is needed to increase
     must be easily accessible to the research            interest in magnesium and drive the future
     and development community, and require               advancement of R&D programs. Ef-
     data sharing from basic research through             fective communication of magnesium
     full-scale manufacturing.                            information will foster confidence in the
                                                          use of magnesium cast components.
•    Benchmarking – Benchmarking industry
     performance is critical to successful de-
     velopment of magnesium casting technol-       Specific research and development needs for
     ogy. Collection and analysis of data about    each area are presented on the following page.
     magnesium components, the aluminum
     casting industry and other competitors,
     and magnesium casting processes will pro-
     vide industry benchmarks and set perfor-
     mance metrics.

                                                     Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
                             3c. Infrastructure Development

The relatively small size of the magnesium           for magnesium has increased significantly for
casting industry limits its ability to allocate ma-  the production of cast components. These
jor capital for unproven technologies. Small         supply/demand issues have created uncertain-
foundries seldom have the resources to imple-        ties about the reliability of magnesium metal
ment new technologies that support the cast-         supply.
ing process, such as improvements in molding
or core making, which has hampered the rate          Critical Challenges
of change in the industry. As a result, incre-       Critical infrastructure development challenges,
mental improvements to alloys and processes          as highlighted in the following chart, can be
have been seen rather than revolutionary new         divided among two key issues:
technologies. Additionally, a smaller pool of
employees at all levels makes attracting skilled     • Industry Size – The relatively small size
employees very important; engineers, chem-                of the industry creates numerous chal-
ists, metallurgists, technicians, and craftsmen           lenges with R&D, auxiliary support, and
are needed throughout the industry to meet                workforce viability. For example, lack of
the challenges presented by advanced equip-               strategic direction and limited resources
ment, new processes, and the production of                for research and development has con-
complex cast parts. Affordability will continue           strained technology development and
to put major pressure on magnesium casters,               inhibited growth. The perception that
especially when competing with regions of                 other larger industries provide higher
the world where labor is                                                    returns on investment
inexpensive.                             Auxiliary support                  have constrained develop-
                                                                            ments in auxiliary support
Since 1990, the supply of              organizations provide                in supply, production,
magnesium metal imports
to U.S. foundries has been           engineering, information               marketing, engineering,
                                                                            distribution, and waste
increasing, while U.S.
ingot production capac-
                                      technology, and supply                issues. Finally, the un-
ity has decreased. At the          chain products and services sophisticatedhas hurtof
                                                                            the industry
end of 1998, The Dow
Chemical Co. closed its
                                   throughout the magnesium                 ability to attract young
60,000 t/yr plant, and in            cast component life cycle,
2001, Northwest Alloys
closed its 43,000 t/yr                   from raw materials                 • Environmental and
                                                                            Safety Issues – While
plant, leaving the U.S. with       extraction to final reuse or individual companies
one supplier with a 2003                                                    continue to strive to im-
capacity of 45,000 t/yr.1                       disposal.                   prove process efficiencies
Meanwhile, the demand

                                                    Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
    and reduce waste, the industry as a whole
    must unify itself to improve its image as
    an environmentally friendly and safety
    conscience community. Even with safe
    handling procedures in place, the industry
    realizes it must continue to improve safety.
    Safety concerns, both real and perceived,
    present a real challenge for magnesium
    foundries as they expand their markets

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap      0
Research and Development Needs                                    about these programs is essential
                                                                  to expediting progress in all market
To meet the infrastructure development                            areas.
demands of the next fifteen years, the magne-
sium casting industry must undertake near-                   o    Recyclability – Life-cycle assess-
term (0-5 years), mid-term (6-8 years), and                       ments are needed to promote the
long-term (>8 years) research and develop-                        environmental benefits of magne-
ment activities. These activities can be divided                  sium. Reliable and affordable sepa-
among three areas of research:                                    ration and identification techniques
•    Research Development and Demonstra-                          are needed to easily sort materials
     tion Capabilities – The lack of research                     into the appropriate recycling pro-
     facilities focused on magnesium casting                      cess, thereby improving the overall
     applications limits the industry’s ability to                efficiency of recycling magnesium.
     demonstrate feasibility and affordability
     of new technologies. In order to ensure                 o    Safety – Magnesium casting com-
     industry growth, new research centers are                    panies are tied together by their
     needed to evaluate new, potentially low-                     collective safety performance and
     cost magnesium alloys; design several pre-                   all benefit from improvements in
     competitive components for the best alloy                    industry safety. The expertise and
     properties; and cast and test magnesium                      resources of all segments of the
     components in assembled products. To                         magnesium community – foundries,
     complement these, a central location for                     associations, universities, national
     magnesium alloy and process information                      labs, regulators, trainers, federal,
     is needed, along with education resources                    state, and local governments, and
     that promote the commercialization of                        equipment manufacturers – are
     improved magnesium alloys and casting                        required to accomplish safety initia-
     processes.                                                   tives. Safety programs must be
                                                                  enhanced to increase consumer and
•    Strategic R&D Planning – To assure U.S.                      producer confidence in magnesium
     magnesium industry competitiveness and                       cast components.
     future growth, strategic planning for R&D
     investment is needed in the following           •      Collaborative Partnerships - Success in the
     areas:                                                 race to implement light weight materials
                                                            requires a large highly integrated, multidis-
      o    Application-Driven Support - Mag-                ciplinary, national effort focused on highly
           nesium cast components must be                   interwoven activities oriented toward
           incorporated into more diverse                   commercialization. Bringing all of these
           materials, products, and systems                 resources together necessitates unprec-
           while retaining their novel attributes.          edented levels of integration of multidis-
           A key challenge is to develop ap-                ciplinary expertise. The R&D effort must
           plication-driven support, especially             coordinate developments in magnesium
           in markets where aluminum cast                   cast properties, new casting technologies,
           components have achieved great                   and new modeling and prototyping tools
           success. Several programs are al-                while improving understanding of prod-
           ready in progress for the promotion              uct performance, safety, environmental
           of magnesium cast components.                    impact, and costs.
           Increasing access to information

                                                       Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
         4. Top Priority Activities &
                        Action Plans
The magnesium casting industry is pursuing         By emphasizing the top-priority activities
a balanced portfolio of research, develop-         described in this chapter, the industry will
ment, and demonstration (RD&D), education,         focus on those areas of the magnesium casting
information management, and other activi-          market where the opportunities to increase
ties to support its efforts to promote industry    consumption and production are the greatest.
growth. Process technology activities that are
central to the R&D agenda must have simul-         The top priority activities for the magnesium
taneous efforts in information management          casting industry are listed on the next page;
and sharing and infrastructure development to      those marked with  are described in detail in
support the success of the industry technol-       the following pages.
ogy strategy. The portfolio will be compre-
hensive and robust to take advantage of rapid
changes in markets, technologies, and environ-
mental regulations, though limited resources
require that the portfolio focus on the most
critical technology priorities to propel growth
over the next 15 years. This chapter identifies
the most important research and develop-
ment priorities and indicates how they can be
implemented. The following information is
examined for each priority listed in the follow-
ing pages:
•    Description of the need
•    Key challenges to be addressed
•    Time frame
•    Potential benefits
•    Implementation steps

                                                  Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   
   Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap   0
            5. Portfolio Development
Uncertainties in markets, regulations, technol-   industry with technologies that immediately
ogy advancement, and competition require          improve productivity and expand new ap-
that the magnesium casting industry maintain      plications. Mid-term activities ensure that
a robust portfolio that can respond effectively   the technical and cost challenges of emerging
to a variety of futures. As the industry funds    technologies are resolved so these technologies
R&D projects and pursues the strategies           can be deployed within eight years. Long-term
contained in this roadmap, it will continually    technologies usually have the potential for big
review and assess the mix of projects that will   payoffs but are higher risk. These technolo-
lead to success both today and in the future.     gies help position the industry for long-term
In addition, the magnesium casting industry       growth in existing and new market areas.
will work with partners in industry, govern-
ment, and other organizations to ensure that      Strategic Emphasis
funded activities are complementary and con-      The most important technology strategy for
tribute to a balanced North American magne-       the magnesium casting industry is to develop
sium casting portfolio. The initial portfolio     process technologies that improve the value
includes a mix of R&D investments by time         of magnesium cast components and thereby
frame and by strategic emphasis.                  expand markets and generate new magnesium
                                                  casting sales. As such, about 42% of the
Time Frame Analysis                               magnesium casting industry R&D portfolio
The magnesium casting industry portfolio          should consist of process technologies and
should contain a mix of R&D projects that         information management and sharing invest-
will come to fruition in the near (0-5 years),
mid (5-8 years), and long term (over 8 years).    Figure 5-2 Technology Strategic Areas
Near-term activities are needed to infuse the
Figure 5-1 Time Frame Portfolio Mix

                                                 Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
ments should comprise 35% of the portfolio.        Implementation
Research that develops industry infrastructure
should make up about 23% of the invest-            The magnesium casting industry will use this
ments.                                             Roadmap to ensure industry investments ad-
                                                   dress the most strategically important needs as
This investment strategy should be used as a       it seeks to improve its position as the choice
general guide for initial investments but not as   material for components in automotive,
a strict formula. The relative benefits and cost   aerospace, power tools, sporting goods, and
of specific R&D projects must be used as the       computer and electronic equipment. Through
most important criteria for investment.            active, engaged partnerships within the indus-
                                                   try, the individual magnesium casters and the
                                                   industry as a whole will achieve mutual gain.
                                                   Extending this coordination to suppliers, uni-
                                                   versities, and government agencies will allow
                                                   the industry to leverage its investments with
                                                   additional financial and technical resources,
                                                   stimulating even greater innovation and prog-
                                                   ress towards achieving industry growth.

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                                  
                                    6. Contributors
Rob Bailey                           Jenny Jackman
B.S. Metallurgy, Inc.                CANMET
Chuck Bergman                        Sudesh Kannan
Technomics, LLC                      Praxair Inc.
Lawrence Boyd                        Bob LaFurge
Energy Industries of Ohio            Hamilton Sunstrand
Richard Burnett                      Dave Leitten
Chicago Magnesium Casting Co.        Fansteel Wellman Dynamics
Kenneth Clark                        Edward Lichner
Magnesium Elektron                   CMI Novacast, Inc.
Gerald Cole                          Paul Lyon
Light Weight Strategies, LLC         Magnesium Elektron
Bruce Cox                            Michael Marlatt
Daimler Chrysler                     WFV USA
Kenneth Currie                       Tim McMillin
Tennessee Tech University            MAGMA Foundry Technologies, Inc
Rathindra (Babu) Dasgupta            Daniel Minor
SPX Contech                          CMI Equiment and Engineering, Inc
Peter Djordjevich                    Dennis Nolan
Energy Industries of Ohio            Foseco Canada Inc.
Gerald Gegel                         Kalathur (Pat) Pattabiraman
Materials and Process Consultancy    Fansteel Wellman Dynamics
Michael Hammer                       Thomas Prucha
Allison GMPT                         Intermet Corp.
Adolf Hetke                          Steve Robison
Hetke Consulting                     American Foundry Society
John Hryn                            Kenneth C. (K.C.) Ryan
Argonne National Laboratory          SPX Contech Metal Forge

                                    Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Mahi Sahoo                                      Bill Walden
CANMET                                          Technikon
David Schwam                                    David Weiss
Case Western Reserve University                 Eck Industries, Inc.
Tom Shewfelt                                    Eric Wintgens
Foseco-Morval                                   Pratt & Whitney Canada
Vinod K. Sikka                                  Gregory Woycik
Oak Ridge National Laboratory                   Hayes Lemmerz International Inc.
Richard Snyder                                  Michael York
Chicago Magnesium Casting Co                    Allison GMPT
David Tawil
Magnesium Elektron
Tom Tripp
U.S. Magnesium, LLC

Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap                                      
                                                 7. References
1.    The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society   5. International Magnesium Association.
     (2005, August). The Global Magnesium           (2005). Physical Properties: EMI Shield-
     Industry: Review and Forecast. (2005,          ing. Magnesium Resources [On-line].
     August) JOM, Volume 57, Number 8, p. 4.        Available:
2. Statecasts, Incorporated. AFS Metalcast-
   ing Forecast and Trends 2005. (2004).         6. Kramer, D. U.S. Geological Survey.
   Schaumburg, IL: American Foundry                 (2003). Magnesium. [On-line]. Available:
3. Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle                 pdf
   Technologies United States Depart-
   ment of Energy. (2005, April). Progress       7. Magnesium Elektron. (2005, September).
   Report for Automotive Lightweighting             Recycling Economics. [On-Line]. Avail-
   Materials. [On-Line]. Available: http://         able: http://www.magnesium-elektron.         com/data/downloads/262.pdf

4. Kennerknecht, S. (2001, June) Poten-
   tial Investment Casting Market. Paper
   presented at the 12th Annual AeroMat
   Conference of the American Society for
   Metals, Long Beach, CA.

                                                Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap
Magnesum Castng Industry Technology Roadmap