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In the investment casting process, the casting tree is repeatedly dipped into an agitated vat of ceramic and allowed to dry.

“[In addition to the MagWerks applica- tions], we’ve prototyped several military parts that are being developed. And as far as we know, only two investment casting sources in the U.S. can do magnesium.” T e company’s main customers in the

medical industry manufacture prosthetics and medical equipment. Ziemba noted that some exciting magnesium innova- tions are developing within that fi eld. “We also do a lot of prototype work for GM and Ford,” Leonard said. Magne- sium is used in many aircraft parts, and Aristo-Cast has done some interesting work in propulsion parts. “I read an interesting fact: If you can cut 500 pounds off a commercial airliner, it will save one quarter of a million dollars in fuel over a year,” Ziemba said. “T ere are a lot of exciting things happening with magnesium.”

Looking Ahead to Production When in high-volume production, the

MagWerks LED lamps most likely will be injection molded, not investment cast. T ixomolding is a semi-solid diecasting process in which magnesium slurry is in- jected into a steel die. Advantages include long die and chamber life, fi ne-grained castings with few defects and minimal loss of metal fed to the machine. One of Aristo-Cast’s strengths is its

ability to produce prototypes that match the production design that would be used for high volumes. “Not only can we meet or exceed the physical properties that would be obtainable by thixomolding or regular diecasting, but we can exactly duplicate what they’re going to do as far as the tooling is concerned,” Ziemba said. Depending on the part, Aristo-Cast

can produce an investment cast product at 20% the tooling cost of a diecast tool. “If you’re going to be making a few

hundred lamps for an aircraft application, for example, that would be one economic analysis,” Pickholz said. “If you’re going to be doing many more for an automotive


application, that would be another. Injec- tion molding has a much higher tooling cost [than investment casting], but you have a much lower cost per piece. With injection molding, you can do millions.” In addition, injection molding off ers

more freedom of design, according to Pickholz, who does not anticipate mak- ing any changes to the lamp design from the prototype Aristo-Cast produced. MagWerks customer Sealink Inter-

national bought aluminum lamps prior to working with Pickholz. “We presented the [magnesium] tech-

nology and convinced them to develop a concept and prototype,” he said. T ree years later, the companies’ fi rst LED lamp has been through the step-by-step process

of development, prototyping and produc- tion validation products. As this issue of Metal Casting Design and Purchasing goes to press, the lamp is being evaluated by major car manufacturers. Steel and aluminum are large players in the automotive industry, and Pickholz noted the challenge of presenting an entirely new product to clients. “T ere are a lot of misconceptions

surrounding magnesium, such as that it burns, costs a lot and is very hard to get,” Pickholz said. “So you have a very steep learning curve that you have to overcome through demonstration and proof. Magnesium is very easy to get, and solid magnesium does not burn.” In addition, he noted that durability is not a concern, even with the thinner walls of these LED lamps. According to Pickholz, the advantage of magnesium alloys is a combination of three elements: “You can do much lighter mass, which is critical to automo- tive and transportation as a whole; you can produce at a lower cost; and you can create a better product.” 

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