Thursday 2 December 2021

Overcoming Automotive Challenges in 2021: Replacing Magnesium Die Casting with Engineering and High Performance Plastics

Hello and welcome to a new blog post based on the recent events of Magnesium shortage in the automotive industry.

The automotive sector already has it’s fair share of challenges in 2021. Chip, plastics, and container shortage were meeting a high demand triggered by pent-up consumption due to the Covid-19 crisis in 2020.

Now another challenge came up: export of Magnesium from Asia. Energy crisis in China caused a lowering of energy intensive Magnesium production. Many Tier-1 suppliers in Europe which use Magnesium die casting to make gear boxes and steering applications suffer under this low export rate (China provides more than 50% of the global Magnesium production).

This offers engineering and high performance polymers to jump in and replace the one or the other applications such as housings and bezels.

Figure 1 compares different polymers (mainly with Carbon fiber loading) to Magnesium AZ91D, a commonly used automotive alloy. It can be shown that engineering polymers such as PA 6 and 6.6 with carbon fiber loading as well as high performance polymers such as PPS, PARA, and PPA (with CF loading) can replace Magnesium. PPS and PPA offer the advantage of high temperature durability and low water uptake.

Figure 1: Specific tensile strength vs. specific tensile modulus overview for replacing Magnesium with engineering and high performance polymers

Apart from cost and weight saving - what are some more advantages of replacing metals with plastics?

There is the possibility of consolidating several metal parts into one plastic part and having a better resistance to corrosion or chemical attacks. Also acoustics (particularly relevant in electric vehicles) can be improved, together with an improved friction and wear of parts.

How to do a metal replacement?

This I discussed in the following blog post here and additionally made a training video on YouTube of it: 

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics


Herwig Juster

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