Magnesium sheet production

CSIRO has signed an exclusive option to licence its magnesium sheet production process with a subsidiary of Magnesium International. The CSIRO technology is one of only a few technologies capable of producing thin magnesium sheet direct from the molten metal. Under the new agreement, Magnesium International will work with CSIRO on further advancing the technology.


The magnesium sheet technology has emanated from four years of work by research scientists and engineers at the CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure and Technology Division.


While magnesium sheet is considered a growth product for the 21st century – with its light-weight and high strength qualities – the uptake of magnesium sheet has been hindered by expensive and difficult conventional production processes.


“After successful test runs we are about to commence a production trial run of high-end 3mm magnesium alloy sheet for a potential customer,” said CSIRO Business Development Manager Brad Cowley.


“This shows the CSIRO production method can make a cost-effective magnesium sheet of the highest standard; Magnesium International is looking to engage with this company on a commercial basis. Our technology has the scope to allow many more manufacturers to enter the magnesium sheet market.”


Magnesium International Limited Deputy Chairman, Patrick Elliott, said while there are numerous groups working on producing magnesium sheet metal, CSIRO is ahead of the pack.


“We believe CSIRO’s technology is in the lead and that its technology has the best potential,” said Elliott. He added that initial trials with CSIRO have gone well and he expects orders to flow shortly.


Magnesium sheet has a variety of applications where lightweight and quality finish is at a premium. This includes automotive components and personal electronic devices such as cameras, XDA’s, lap tops and MD players.


The CSIRO technology is based on the successful application of the twin roll casting technique – used extensively in the aluminium industry – to the production of magnesium alloy sheet.


Magnesium alloy strip can be produced directly from the melt with a thickness at – or close to – the final required shape, thereby reducing operational costs. A detailed proving program has demonstrated that the technology is economically efficient and suitable for semi-continuous production of 100-200kg coils of typically 3mm thick magnesium sheet.