General Motors’ magnesium alloy VSC machine completes first trial run

General Motors and the GM China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai has announced the first trial run of the facility’s new vertical squeeze casting machine, the first of its kind in the world designed for developing next-generation magnesium castings. GM says the VSC machine will make it easier to manufacture vehicle parts from magnesium alloy, which is lighter than aluminium and will help improve fuel economy through reduced weight. Magnesium alloy is the lightest metal currently available for mass production of automotive materials, with magnesium parts being on average 30 percent lighter than a part made from aluminum alloy.

The VSC machine was designed through a joint collaboration by GM’s lightweight materials research teams in Detroit and Shanghai. It is designed to improve casting integrity by putting the material under high squeeze pressure during the casting process and by isolating the material from oxygen, preventing oxide inclusions in the metal.

“Our efforts to promote magnesium alloy applications will not only meet customers’ needs for better fuel economy and better performance at an affordable cost, but also take advantage of the ready availability of magnesium in China,” said Jeff Wang, Lab Group Manager of the materials research team at GM’s China Science Lab.

The VSC machine is located in the micro-foundry and formability lab within the GM China Advanced Technical Center, which opened in 2011. In addition to the NSC machine, the ATC also runs mechanical testing facilities, microstructure analysis, metallography and electrochemistry labs, and is focused on developing cost effective lightweight technologies.