Magnesium is called the Metal of the Future for a Reason: Lillian Wong

Over the past several years, I have gained tremendous experience in the industrial commodities industry, especially the magnesium industry.  I have been privileged to attend annual magnesium conferences around the globe, meet with industry leaders, and learn firsthand about some of the new and exciting developments in this emerging niche market. I would like to share my thoughts and knowledge about this metal, which has been labeled by many industry experts as the metal of the future.

Magnesium is 33% lighter than aluminum, 60% lighter than titanium, and 75% lighter than steel. Yet for many applications it’s stronger per unit volume than all three of those structural metals. I know it sounds incredible, but it’s true! It is also an extremely versatile metal. Besides its basic functions as a component in aluminum alloys, titanium, and steel production, magnesium can also be cast into various mechanical parts and replace aluminum alloys for virtually anything you want to make lighter and stronger.

These days magnesium is making more headlines mainly because the automobile industry is starting to use more magnesium in various auto parts due to the looming CAFE standards and EU emissions standards.  The US EPA CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards require automakers to increase average fleet miles per gallon by 15% to 31.3 by 2014 and 25% to 34.1 by 2016 from the current 27.3 average mpg.   In addition, the Obama administration’s new CAFE standards require vehicles to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. That’s a 100% improvement from where we are today!  With these tough laws in place, automakers are looking to magnesium to shave the vehicle weight drastically in order to meet these stringent mpg guidelines.  Luckily for automakers, almost all of their auto parts, from wheels, engine blocks, panels, and even the entire roof top can be made from magnesium alloys.

For example, The Corvette Z06 uses magnesium roof components to minimize mass. It also uses a magnesium engine cradle.  With the help of magnesium parts, the Corvette Z06 is one of the lightest high-performance vehicles available on the market.  Ford is also doing a lot of work with magnesium. Ford Explorer, the 2011 North American Truck of the Year, uses magnesium seat frames for its third-row passenger seats. Ford recently announced that its F-150 scheduled to debut in 2014 would use extensive aluminum and magnesium in its design.  The Chrysler Group employs magnesium in the interiors of its Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Liberty, Compass, and Patriot models.  Its instrument panels and front consol are made out of a single-piece magnesium die cast.  Volkswagen AG, one of the pioneers of using magnesium in its auto parts, uses magnesium gearbox and clutch housing in many of its models, including the Golf models.  These are just a few examples of what automobile companies are doing with magnesium and how it’s impacting our lives.

Magnesium usage is not just limited to the automotive sector.  It is also generating a lot of buzz in the sports sector.  It has taken high performance to a whole new level.  Not only is magnesium light-weight, durable, and stronger than aluminum, but it also absorbs 16 times more shock and vibrations, making it the ideal metal that gives competitive sports that extra edge.   Many motorcycle and mountain bike manufacturers have incorporated magnesium in their premium designs for years while new innovations used in the sports sectors are generating additional attention.  Skiers, snowboarders and even ice skaters now find some of their equipment made out of magnesium as it provides much better stability at higher speeds. It is also transforming the sport of golf, where drivers made with a magnesium crown are lighter with better weight distribution to allow golfers to deliver longer and more powerful drives.

Consumer electronics is another area where magnesium and its alloys are playing a major role.  Everyone wants lighter and thinner laptops, cameras, and cell phones that are durable enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.  Magnesium can make a big difference for these fragile products.  The new HP EliteBook uses a magnesium base and aluminum-clad magnesium case and display enclosure that protects the laptop from the usual drop, shock, heat, vibration, humidity, and pressure as it protects the display from expensive repairs.  Canon’s new professional EOS D50 SLR digital camera is protected by a magnesium casing allowing the camera to resist moisture better than its competitors and it weighs just 25.7 ounces.  Not only is magnesium the best metal with the strength to weight ratio, but it is also 100 times better than plastic for heat dissipation.  So next time when you are in the market for a new laptop or cell phone, you might want to think about what’s making this product light-weight and more durable. If you have the choice, what would you choose: magnesium or plastic?

So many incredible innovations are emerging that use magnesium it would be impossible to mention them all. Products from advanced medical equipment to vacuum cleaners are also using magnesium as this metal becomes more embedded in our daily lives each year.  More and more people will see the benefit of magnesium and will want products that are lighter and stronger.  Lasher Sport produces a magnesium sports wheelchair using magnesium alloys.  It weighs just 8.4 pounds without rear wheels; that’s about the weight of a gallon of milk! Innovations like this will trigger other innovations and soon you’ll find light weight baby carriages, magnesium eye-glass frames, magnesium umbrellas, etc. in the marketplace.

Magnesium applications are slowly coming of age and we are just scratching the surface of this metal’s potential.  If you go back in time to the 1850’s, the use of aluminum was just beginning in commercial production and at that time it was more expensive than gold and platinum. By the mid 1900’s, aluminum was embedded in our everyday lives and it is certainly far less expensive than gold or platinum.  Just imagine how much a platinum can of soda would cost you!! Magnesium already has the cost competitiveness to aluminum and as the new kid on the block with only 40 years of commercial applications, I believe magnesium will take an even faster path than aluminum to be used across a broad range of industries.  That is why I believe magnesium is the metal of the future.

Lillian Wong
Director of Investor Relations
CD International Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDII)
431 Fairway Drive, Suite 200
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441
Tel: 954.363.7333 ext.317

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    • andrew goldrich
    • April 6th, 2012

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    • Maria
    • April 12th, 2012

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  3. Excellent article!

    • Amos Mathai
    • April 20th, 2012

    Who knew? An eye opening article.

    • brian
    • April 26th, 2012

    Great article real informative

    • john
    • May 4th, 2012

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