The element magnesium occurs abundantly in combination with other materials in the Earth's crust. Symbolized by the letters "Mg" on the Periodic Table, this alkaline earth metal derives its name from the element Magnesia. It possesses a light weight, having a density of just 1.738 grams per cubic centimeter.
Although magnesium occurs widely, for centuries it obtained comparatively limited use in metal working, possibly due to the difficulty of extracting magnesium in a purified form and handling it safely in metal production environments. Magnesium possesses combustible properties. It produces a brilliant white light during combustion, a property which has made it an important component of pyrotechnic products, some optical equipment, and flares.
Today, most manufacturers seeking to harness the properties of magnesium utilize magnesium alloys. To create an alloy, a manufacturer combines two or more metals or a metal with another element or elements in a molten form. When the molten material solidifies, it will display new properties determined by its constituents.
For example, magnesium alloys typically contribute to the production of lightweight products. Varying the combination of elements in these alloys permits metallurgists to create metal parts displaying some desired properties found in magnesium. For example, magnesium alloys may offer a lighter weight alternative to aluminum alloy for producing some components.
The percentage of different constituents in alloys impacts density, tensile strength, wear resistance, corrosion resistance and other important engineering considerations. Some popular magnesium alloys combine magnesium with aluminum, copper, zinc, manganese or silicon. The metal parts formed from magnesium alloys usually weight less than comparable parts produced from steel or iron alloys.
Magnesium IN Aerospace INDUSTRY
Aerospace magnesium has enjoyed widespread demand since the latter half of the Twentieth Century. The growth of the aviation industry ultimately created a need for lightweight structural metals. This concern assumed greater importance as scientists designed aerospace equipment. By reducing the weight of airplanes, rockets and satellites, manufacturers may decrease fuel costs. They need less fuel to power lighter-weight craft across the same terrestrial distances.
Airplane designers quickly discovered they could reduce aircraft weight significantly by replacing some steel components with aluminum. Although initially magnesium as a material proved exceedingly difficult to manipulate in manufacturing settings due to its combustibility, the development of a multitude of useful magnesium alloys during the Twentieth Century enabled the use of magnesium in some components.
Aerospace Applications For Magnesium Alloys
During recent decades, engineers have discovered a variety of useful applications for different magnesium alloys. These innovations frequently involve replacing heavier metal components with lighter weight parts. Potentially, these design modifications contribute to somewhat lower fuel costs. Alternatively, they supply aircraft and space capsule design teams with the opportunity to include additional passenger amenities (or cargo) without exceeding applicable weight restrictions.
For example, the British firm Magnesium Elektron created a proprietary magnesium alloy called "Elektron® 43 alloy" which the firm offers for use in aircraft interiors. By replacing structural components inside passenger seating with comparable parts formed from new magnesium alloys, a reduction may occur in the overall weight of seating. Other cockpit applications for magnesium alloy components include the use of instrument display panels containing magnesium alloy parts.
The Boeing Company, a large aircraft manufacturer, reportedly employed magnesium alloy parts in jet engine fan frames and engine thrust reversers in several models of large commercial passenger jetliners. Many skilled aircraft and aerospace engineers seek to develop new uses for magnesium alloys. Bunty LLC assists companies and entrepreneurs seeking to obtain experienced aerospace magnesium alloy consultation, engineering and parts manufacturing services for commercial purposes.
Aerospace engineers reportedly include magnesium alloy components in some spacecraft, missiles, and satellites. These parts contribute to optical imaging technologies widely used in aerospace and non-aerospace applications, and possibly to some structural components. Specific information about most aerospace applications likely remains proprietary in nature and unavailable to the public.
Advantages of Using Magnesium Alloys in The Aerospace Sector
Why would the aerospace sector discover advantages in employing magnesium alloys in aerospace technology?
- By selectively using light magnesium alloys in lieu of heavier construction materials, design teams may reduce the overall weight of rockets, missiles, satellites or other aerospace vehicles. Just as decreasing the weight of a plane offers commercial benefits in aviation, supplying a lighter weight payload imposes less of a takeoff burden upon a rocket.
- While still more expensive than aluminum, magnesium prices may fall significantly in the future as global production increases. Today companies have discovered many sources of magnesium. Lower cost magnesium would likely contribute to the production of more affordable magnesium alloys in some cases. An increase in the availability and diversity of magnesium alloys increases design options for skilled aerospace engineers.
- Some magnesium alloys today reportedly offer both light weight and ductility. In situations in which aerospace engineers desire this property, which enables a component to tolerate being drawn out, components formed from magnesium alloys may perform important roles in their designs. The specific alloy and the anticipated environmental challenges would determine whether or not to employ a magnesium alloy part.
- In some aerospace contexts, the combustibility of magnesium may prove desirable. This feature has contributed to magnesium's important role in flares, for instance. If design teams desire a satellite to burn vividly upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, then using magnesium or specific magnesium alloys for some components might offer some design advantages.
- Metallurgists have reportedly developed capabilities to perform finishing for some highly refined magnesium alloys to improve their corrosion resistance capabilities. Highly corrosion resistant magnesium alloys can perform useful roles under some conditions. Combined with the light weight of magnesium, this property may appeal to aerospace designers.