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New Project Targets Stronger Magnesium

New Project Targets Stronger Magnesium

New magnesium alloys may emerge from a joint research and development program between Thixomat Technologies of Ann Arbor, MI, and Dead Sea Magnesium of Beer-Sheva, Israel.

The goal of the program is to develop alloys with improved performance and processability for use in aircraft, aerospace, military, biomedical and sporting goods applications.

"This is an exciting venture that will expand the limits of magnesium alloys, delivering a new range of materials with more robust properties and improved processability; all at a competitive cost point," says Stephen LeBeau, a metallurgist who is the president of Thixomat.

Thixomat was formed more than 20 years ago to commercialize a liquid magnesium molding technology called Thixomolding developed by Dow Chemical. More than 400 machines were sold using the technology, mostly in Asia.

Since patents on the technology expired, Thixomat has looked for new revenue sources. One venture is called nanoMAG, which has developed high-strength lightweight sheet technology.

"This material has the strength of steel, but at only one-fourth the weight," says LeBeau. The technology was developed at the University of Michigan.

The goal of the new joint venture with Dead Sea Magnesium is to develop proprietary alloys that can leverage the processing potential of the nanoMAG and Thixomolding processes.

The $1 million project has received financial support from the Israeli-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

The research project was announced at Medical Design and Manufacturing West, held this week in Anaheim, CA.

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