Magnesium Alloy Technology in Motorsport:
Lightweight materials for the motorsport industry
Today we think of aluminium as the go to lightweight material, but what if we told you there is a material which is 30% lighter than aluminium? Perhaps top tier motorsports best kept secret is the use of magnesium alloy technology to enhance performance of components through light weighting. As the world works to reduce emissions and increase performance of vehicles lightweight materials such as magnesium may play a key role.
Light weighting of components has many benefits: increased acceleration, reduced braking distance, reduction of emissions, fuel consumption, increased payloads, and increased range.
High specific stiffness
For bars with equivalent weight and width, magnesium is 18 times stiffer than steel and double that of aluminium. In practice it is not always possible to increase section thickness to these extents. With only small increases in cross section it is possible to redesign parts that offer 20–25% weight savings over aluminium equivalents and 65–70% weight savings when substituting steel designs.
Lightweight magnesium alloys can be shaped into plate by rolling and extruded into both solid and hollow profiles. These can be further shaped using forging, pressing, bending or simply machining from solid.
Magnesium alloys are the easiest of all structural metals to machine.
- Low power consumption (45% less than aluminium)
- Fast machining rate (55%)
- Excellent surface finish
- Reduced tool wear
- Well broken chips
Alloys are available that have comparable properties with other structural metals – with the added advantage of superior performance at elevated temperatures (good creep resistance and tensile strength).
Has inherent screening properties, useful for electronic enclosures and has good thermal conductivity for heat dissipation.
Magnesium alloys have excellent vibration damping properties.
Modern alloys have good corrosion resistance. For more severe environments, there are a range of surface passivation and top coat treatments commercially available.