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August 8, 1998

3 Min Read
Thixomolding thinner portable computers

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Weighing in at just more than 3 lb and measuring less than 3/4 inch thick, the Mitsubishi Pendion/HP OmniBook Sojourn notebook PC has a thin, tough, lightweight magnesium-alloy case----injection molded, of course.

The 100,000 or so IT buyers attending the PC Expo (June 16-19, New York City) witnessed the rollout of a number of exciting new corporate computing products and services from more than 500 exhibitors. Computers are getting faster, smarter, and cheaper these days. They're also getting lighter and thinner. Mini-notebook computers hit the market in 1997, capturing the attention of busy professionals who need to travel light but want everything on their desktop back at the office at their fingertips when they're out on the road. Thinner housings let the OEMs pack more computing power into less space.

Mini-notebook computers (mini-notes) have become the sole strong sellers for many OEMs in the depressed PC market of recent months. IDC, an IT industry research firm, expects the market for mini notebooks in 2001 to be more than twice the size of the market in 1997, and injection molding is helping to produce their durable, lightweight, thin cases. Such growth potential is exciting. But much of the excitement has nothing to do with injection molded plastics. Rather, it involves injection molded metal-Thixomolded magnesium alloy to be more precise.

IMM regulars already know that Thixomat Inc.'s patented Thixomolding process involves the high-volume molding of semimolten magnesium alloy chips into high-precision, complex shapes. Compared to plastics, these alloys provide better mechanicals, such as rigidity and hardness. Mini-note housing wall thicknesses of less than 1 mm can be achieved. They also provide better physical properties, such as thermal and electrical conductivity. Excellent inherent EMI/RFI shielding is a real plus in IT applications.

Husky Injection Molding Systems has been licensed by Thixomat to design and build Thixomolding machines (see IMM April 1998, p. 112). Tim Creasy, head of the project at Husky, says the company intends to leverage its experience with building high-speed, robust molding machines for thin-wall packaging into its Thixomolding machines.

Husky intends to eventually offer a complete line, starting at 90 metric tons, though it's presently beginning work on its first machine, a 500-metric ton model. Meanwhile, Creasy has provided information on the Thixomolding invasion into the IT market Husky has gathered from Japan.

In 1997, five notebook computers with Thixomolded magnesium alloy housings were introduced: two from Toshiba and one each from Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric, and NEC. All were on display at the PC Expo. Hewlett-Packard's OmniBook Sojourn, developed in conjunction with Mitsubishi Electric, features a sleek, metallic-blue magnesium case, plus a super-thin keyboard, and a thin LCD display. These features combine to make the Sojourn slimmer and lighter than most executive file folders. Thixomolding also has begun making inroads into markets for digital camcorders and cameras, mini-disk players, and, thanks to work at one of Husky's customers-to-be, Thixotech Inc. of Calgary, into electrical and drivetrain parts for automotive.

Contact information
Husky Injection Molding Systems
Bolton, ON
Tim Creasy
Phone: (905) 951-5000
Fax: (905) 857-4991
Website: www.husky.on.ca

Thixomat Inc.
Ann Arbor, MI
Neil Prewitt
Phone: (313) 995-5550
Fax: (313) 995-5558
Website: www.thixomat.com


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