Magnesium alloys are formed from a base of elemental magnesium and another metallic element. A type of alkaline earth metal, elemental magnesium is a strong, yet lightweight metal that is also highly flammable and burns with a particularly bright light. As a comparable metal to aluminum, magnesium is the third most commonly used type of structural metal.
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Applications of Magnesium Alloys
Magnesium alloys are commonly used in these industries and applications:
- For such parts as gearboxes, clutch housings, brake pedal brackets, wheels, and valve covers.
- Industrial Manufacturing
- For use in metal processing applications, such as casting.
- In which magnesium alloys are used for parts, such as generator housings, compressor casings for turbine engines, and auxiliary gearboxes.
- Used for such devices as computer parts, flash photography tools, and cellular phones.
Material Properties of Magnesium Alloys
A fairly inexpensive metal, magnesium features the advantageous characteristics of being easily machinable, because it is the easiest type of metal to machine, particularly when it comes to casting. The most common metallic elements that magnesium is used to alloy with are aluminum, zinc, and lead, although it can also be alloyed with other non-ferrous metals such as zirconium.
The different types of magnesium alloys have varied properties depending on the metallic element that magnesium was alloyed with. As the most common metal alloyed with magnesium, aluminum provides the magnesium with additional corrosion resistance while not adding to the density of the metal, as aluminum is also a lightweight metal. Able to provide both cast and wrought magnesium alloys, two of the most common types of aluminum-magnesium alloys are Birmabright, which has a higher amount of aluminum than magnesium, and Magnalium, which also has a higher amount of aluminum than magnesium but contains more magnesium than Birmabright.
Some additional magnesium alloys include Elektron, Magnox, and Magnuminium. Elektron is the category name for a broad range of magnesium alloys that also contain various amounts of other metallic elements, such as silver, zinc, zirconium, aluminum, or varied rare earth elements. Magnox, on the other hand, refers to one specific type of magnesium alloy. This alloy contains trace amounts of aluminum and other metals. Its name is a shortened version of the descriptor "Magnesium Non-Oxidizing." Lastly, Magnuminium is the generic name for many magnesium-based alloys commonly used for the applications of roofing, as well as portable electric tools and domestic appliances.