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More metal competition: GM China casts magnesium prototype part

The General Motors (Detroit, MI) China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai has announced that its micro-foundry and formability lab successfully completed the initial low-pressure casting of a magnesium part, a milestone in lightweight automotive materials research.

The General Motors (Detroit, MI) China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai has announced that its micro-foundry and formability lab successfully completed the initial low-pressure casting of a magnesium part, a milestone in lightweight automotive materials research.

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GM focuses on magnesium for lightweighting efforts.

The ATC team carried out the melting and casting of magnesium ingot materials and developed a prototype magnesium alloy control arm. The part, which is used in vehicle chassis systems, is 30 percent lighter than a similar part made from aluminum.  Lighter parts mean improved fuel efficiency for consumers whose cars in the future will be made up of more magnesium materials according to GM.

It is estimated that using magnesium, one of the lightest metals currently available, could result in a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy for every 150-kilogram (330 pounds) reduction in weight.

"Today's consumers want their vehicles to be more stylish, safer, more durable, more affordable and more fuel efficient," said John Du, director of the GM China Science Lab. "This is resulting in demand for lightweight yet strong materials that make a vehicle more economical to operate."

"The successful production of a part made from magnesium alloy is an important breakthrough for the ATC in lightweight automotive materials research. Satisfying the demands of our customers through new technological achievements is significant for GM's ongoing growth in China and the Chinese automotive industry."

The micro-foundry and formability lab are part of the first phase of the ATC, the Advanced Materials Laboratory. The facility includes a battery cell testing lab, battery material lab, metallography and electrochemical lab, and cell fabrication lab. It is initially focused on research in lightweight materials such as magnesium and battery cells to improve the efficiency of electric vehicles and other advanced technology vehicles.

The Advanced Technical Center is the most comprehensive advanced automotive technology development center in China. Its first phase opened in September 2011. The second phase is scheduled to open later this year.-[email protected]

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