'ShAPE' Process Provides Super-Light & Strong Automotive Parts
Magnesium is the lightest of all structural metals and has a lot of potential in the quest to make lighter cars that go farther on a tank of fuel or battery charge. The metal is 75 percent lighter than steel and is the fourth most common element on earth. But to provide the necessary strength to be incorporated into structural car parts, costly rare-elements have been required. Now, a new process from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has the potential to reduce cost by eliminating the need for rare-earth elements, while simultaneously improving the material's structural properties. It is a twist on extrusion, in which the metal is forced through a tool to create a certain shape. The research team designed and commissioned an industrial version of their idea and received a one-of-a-kind, custom-built Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion (ShAPE™) machine. Spinning a magnesium alloy as it is pressed through a die to create tubes rods and channels is more energy efficient and improves the alloy's mechanical properties.