My husband and I recently went to dinner and a movie for our 10th wedding anniversary. We chose “Rush,” which is not necessarily a romantic movie, but it’s directed by Ron Howard, who I love. I was pleasantly surprised that even in 1976 mechanics were using magnesium as a material to help lessen the weight of their cars. My husband called me a nerd after I went on a long tangent about how fascinating this bit of information was.
As a matter fact, a little Internet research revealed that Mercedes-Benz built a race car model in 1955 with a body made of magnesium alloy and the vehicles were successful at a number high-profile racing events. Porsche also used a magnesium alloy frame for weight reduction in one of its race cars in the early 1970s. That vehicle went on to win the famous Le Mans endurance race in 1971.
Since we (Proto Labs) machine magnesium through our Firstcut service, I had questions on the possible applications that our customers might use magnesium for other than automotive. What other industries use magnesium, and why isn’t it being used more often? What’s the difference between magnesium and other materials, and is it stronger? Or is there just not a lot of information about magnesium use in products?
A little more research provided some answers to my “Rush”-induced inquiries. Like many materials that go through Firstcut, magnesium-machined parts are used in a range of industries from computing to the cell phone market. Magnesium is lighter than aluminum, but in strength versus weight, it’s also stronger than aluminum. Mag parts are good thermal and electrical conductors as well.
We are also nearing the launch of Magnesium Thixomolding through our Protomold injection molding service. Customers who have used Firstcut for smaller runs on magnesium parts will have the option to move to Protomold for larger quantities of magnesium parts. Cool, right?
So, where have you seen magnesium parts used? And more pressing, what’s your favorite Ron Howard movie?
Melissa Wainer, Senior National Account Manager, Proto Labs