Magnesium Elements: Providing Positive Benefits to Copper and Aluminum Alloys

Alloys on their own can offer a range of mechanical and structural benefits for manufacturers and other industries. Yet your application may require the alloy to have increased strength, workability, or ductility for the particular application. Magnesium is one of many chemical elements that becomes added to other alloys such as copper and aluminum to increase the metals’ structural composition and mechanical properties.

At the same time, the additive may also introduce several disadvantages to the alloy. Understanding what benefits and detriments that magnesium provides to aluminum and copper alloys can help manufacturers decide on whether this is the right element to use, as well as figure out how much magnesium should be added.

One of the alloys that magnesium is alloyed with the most is aluminum. Magnesium offers a range of positive effects. This element can increase the strength and hardness of aluminum while also increasing castability. Manufacturers also turn to magnesium when they need to strengthen aluminum without making the alloy significantly denser. Magnesium and aluminum can also experience an increase of weldability as well as corrosion resistance.

When the amount of aluminum alloy is increased when magnesium is added, the aluminum can loss ductility. So the alloy becomes more brittle and can be hard to stretch as it can lose some of its tensile strength. Aluminum with magnesium added is commonly used in the construction industry and building materials, marine applications, ship building, chemical tankers, vehicle bodies, and other applications.

When it comes to copper, magnesium is added to create a cold workable solid solution. The room temperature strength and heat temperature strength of copper is improved significantly. Heat treatments cannot harden the copper. Copper also retains its good electrical conductivity.

Another important aspect of magnesium when added to nickel alloys that contain copper, such as cupronickel, is that the element becomes a strong deoxidizer. The magnesium can remove the oxygen from metal that can negatively impact the alloy. By removing the oxygen, the copper alloy can become more fluid and will have less porosity.

When adding magnesium to copper, be aware that copper becomes less corrosion resistant. This situation can impact marine industries that are using copper products in boat building, ship building and other applications that will experience the corrosive capabilities of salt water. In addition, just like aluminum, copper will experience negative effects to its ductility resistance when magnesium is added.

When adding metal elements such as magnesium to other alloys, it becomes a priority to understand the application and how the metal with be worked, cast or welded. Then you can figure out the amount, size and shape of the magnesium that should be added that will be a benefit during the manufacturing process to create a superior product.

Here at Belmont Metals, we offer 50/50 magnesium aluminum in lumps and 20% magnesium copper in broken slabs. Reach out to our metallurgists who can help you determine the right type of magnesium for your application. We also can create custom alloys for applications where you may need a metal alloy that cannot be commercially found. Contact our company today for technical information. In addition, online purchasing is now available for small quantities of our metals, and we also offer bulk discounts for each metal alloy product.