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Magnesium-aluminum casting cell available for industry use

November 24, 2014 (Columbus, OH) - An integrated die casting cell capable of manufacturing net-shape magnesium and aluminum castings has been successfully installed and operated at The Ohio State University, the first of its kind at any U.S. university.

[die casting cell] 250 T Buhler machine with a Metamag melting and melt transfer systemThe technology, crucial for making lightweight metals for transportation applications, will soon be made available for industrial development and academic research.

Alan Luo, professor of materials science and engineering (MSE) and integrated systems engineering (ISE) at theCollege of Engineering, Jerald Brevick, associate professor of ISE, and a team from Ohio State adapted the Metamag furnace and melt transfer system to the aluminum die casting machine to conduct the first successful magnesium die casting trial at Ohio State.

“This machine is integrated with—and emblematic of—Ohio State’s manufacturing initiatives,” said Luo, who also directs the Light Metals and Manufacturing Research Laboratory and is core faculty for the Center for Simulation Innovation and Modeling (SIMCenter). “This in-house capability is like no other in enabling a considerable number of projects that support the resurgence of manufacturing industry, particularly the casting sector.”

Luo added, “Simultaneously, Ohio State is addressing the workforce demands of businesses by providing students with experiential training in support of a manufacturing and materials processing renaissance. Our graduates are highly sought by the manufacturing industry.”

One of 60 shots of AM50 alloy made in July 2014Magnesium and aluminum, the lightest structural metals, have emerged as promising structural materials for replacing cast iron and steels in automotive and other transportation industry products. The design and manufacture of these materials are critical given the recent industry trends toward lightweight structures for automotive and aerospace industries.

A $2.7 million U.S. Department of Energy award to General Motors made the original work on the integrated die casting cell possible, as part of a larger project on the development of a lightweight automobile door inner panel.  A collaboration with partner Meridian Lightweight LLC provided expertise in casting magnesium parts for large manufacturers. GM also donated materials and safety equipment.

“The automotive industry is increasing its use of lightweight structural materials—aluminum, magnesium, high-strength steel, composites—in order to reduce the weight of new cars and trucks,” said GM Researcher Jon Carter, who helped support the project. “Die castings made of aluminum alloys and magnesium alloys can also help to reduce the number of parts and manufacturing operations required to make a structure. With its new capabilities, Ohio State will be a reliable partner to help fulfill future needs in casting and light alloys.”

Tags: College, Research
60 shots of AM50 alloy