With Apple and non-Apple notebook vendors keen to launch slim models, magnesium-lithium alloy is expected to become an increasingly popular material for notebook casings, according to Jonathan C Lin, chief operating officer at Amli Materials Technology, a Taiwan-based supplier of light metals.
The growing adoption of magnesium-lithium alloy by notebook vendors is due mainly to distinct traits of the material, Lin said. He noted that magnesium is the world's lightest metal with a density of only 0.53 gram/per cubic centimeter, and magnesium-lithium alloy is the lightest commercial alloy, with density reaching only 1.48 grams/cubic centimeter, almost only half the figure of 2.72 grams/cubic centimeter for aluminum alloy.
Besides lightweight, magnesium-lithium alloy also boasts better intensity, extensibility, dissimilarity, and heat dissipation than magnesium alloy. The intensity of Amli's first-generation magnesium-lithium alloy adopted by Japan notebook makers reached 170Mpa, and that of its second-generation one has improved to 210-250 Mpa after incorporating aluminum, Lin disclosed, adding that the third-generation magnesium lithium alloy will be blended with rare earth to achieve even higher intensity.
But the cost for magnesium-lithium alloy is now still 2.5-3 times that of aluminum alloy, leading to lower penetration of the former in notebook production, according to Lin. But he said that the penetration of the new alloy is expected to pick up in 2019, when the cost gap may narrow significantly.
Magnesium-lithium alloy is also applicable to transportation vehicle and aerospace sectors, Lin said. Amli reportedly supplies the alloy to ISpace, a Japan developer of robotic spacecraft technologies, industry sources said."