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Producing High Strength and Light Weight Magnesium Sheet using Innovative Nanotechnology

Thixomat, Inc., an Ann Arbor, MI based technology development company, is introducing its new Nanomag technology for the production and marketing of high strength, light weight magnesium sheet with nanometer microstructures. The process is applicable to the automotive, aerospace, military, biomedical and other markets. Nanomag material exhibits the strength of steel at one-fourth the weight.

The process, developed in conjunction with the Department of Material Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation, offers numerous advantages in material integrity and cost savings over any other product now available, according to Dr. Stephen LeBeau, Thixomat's President and CEO. NanoMag is a subsidiary of Thixomat.

The foundation of the NanoMag technology is the unique Thixomolding® Thermal Mechanical Process, TTMP. TTMP is the magnesium industry equivalent of the mini-mill used to produce lower cost, high quality steel products. The process enables NanoMag to market its product at extremely favorable pricing according to LeBeau.

Thixomolding is the injection molding of magnesium alloys.

The major advantage of the NanoMag technology is its ability to create fine-grained strengthening of magnesium alloys at low cost. The net result is a stronger, more reliable, more formable and lighter weight magnesium sheet with properties similar to steel and with a comparable strength to density ratio as that of steel.

Because of its lighter weight, substituting magnesium sheet for aluminum and other materials reduces vehicle weight and improves fuel consumption. It also offers greater personal protection as body armor in military applications LeBeau said.

In addition to military, automotive, aviation and aerospace applications, NanoMag is applicable as a base material to the manufacture of fuel cells and electronic products. LeBeau believes the process also will gain wide acceptance in the biomedical industry as temporary internal body connecting pins and plates since magnesium dissolves in the body with no adverse effects.

"We've learned that the density and strength of Nanomag material is more like human bone than virtually any other currently popular implant materials LeBeau said. Because of this, he sees the possibility of the use of the process as biodegradable implants for hard tissue."

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