Allite Super Magnesium has the potential to shake up product design and manufacturing across many industries.
Imagine if your bicycle frame could be stronger while weighing one-third less. Or your backpack stays. Or, for that matter, the engine block or frame of your truck. Well, if an announcement today from Allite Super Magnesium holds true, those dreams could very well become reality.
Until this month, Allite Super Magnesium was only available for military and aerospace applications. But now it’s available for private use, including products like bike-frames, components, and other gear.
Allite Super Magnesium: What It Is
Just launched in the consumer world today, Allite Super Magnesium is a proprietary alloy created with magnesium and rare earth elements.
And looking at the specs provided by Allite pretty much blew my mind. It claims Super Magnesium is all of the following: 50 percent lighter than titanium, 56 percent stronger than grade-one titanium, 20 times more shock-absorbing than aluminum, 21 percent stronger than 6061 aluminum, and 75 percent lighter than steel.
“The way we alloy our magnesium is where the secret lies,” said Morten Kristiansen, Allite’s director of marketing and product development. “All have content of rare earth elements.”
The resulting material weighs just 1.83 grams per cubic centimeter. It’s the lightest of all structural metals.
The brand calls itself a “full-service material sciences organization that develops and manufactures high-performance metal alloys for industries around the globe.”
Although consumers will see this newly declassified material for the first time at the Interbike trade show this week in Reno, Nev., defense contracts have used it in the aerospace and military industries since 2006.
Kristiansen explained the main benefits of the new material as strength, weight, and sustainability. But beyond those obvious factors, the company claims to be able to customize the material for specific uses to maximize its potential.
Tailored to Specific Uses
Kristiansen explained that Allite can customize the metal for welding, casting, and forging. But it goes beyond the manufacturing process and can tailor the material to have desired properties for unique uses.
It does this by aligning the magnesium crystals just so in order to attain properties such as vibration dampening.
“We can orientate the crystals in the magnesium for the specific forces, down to microstructure,” Kristiansen said.
He added that for some uses where durability or other properties are key, the brand offers a process called plasma electrolytic oxidation. This process results in a coating on the metal to increase the metal’s electrical insulation as well as resistance to wear, heat, and corrosion.
From Inception to Production
Kristiansen explained that Allite is working to become a branded ingredient company. The brand will work with clients from product inception through engineering to complete production, resulting in a finished component.
“Materials and production engineers work hand-in-hand with the client,” he said. “We are a full-service manufacturer. In most cases, we manufacture for the client.”
The company already has a large facility in China for extrusion, forging, and welding. It also has a business and engineering team in the United States.
Kristiansen said that Allite can produce its Super Magnesium more sustainably than most metals. He called magnesium “the most eco-friendly and sustainable metal in the world.” Because it’s 100 percent recyclable, it requires only half the energy to produce compared with aluminum.
And it’s relatively abundant as the eighth most common element on Earth. Manufacturers can even extract magnesium from seawater, as it’s the third most common element in it.
While magnesium can be susceptible to corrosion, Allite claims that its Super Magnesium resists atmospheric corrosion well.
The brand states, “Due to the high purity grade and the proprietary content of rare earth elements, it has corrosion rates of the same order as some corrosion-resistant aluminum alloys. Through our proprietary process, we have reduced the impurity levels to an absolute minimum to mitigate corrosion effects.”
The brand also claims Super Magnesium is resistant to galvanic corrosion and can be coated to completely protect it for certain uses.
Cost and Availability
There are no products made with Allite Super Magnesium currently on the market. However, Kristiansen said we can expect to see consumer products very soon. He said several brands are already in the process of releasing products.
And the good news is that these should hit price points similar to those of other high-end gear, Kristiansen said. While Allite is a premium product in terms of price, it also aims to be attainable to consumers.
“It will be positioned at comparable pricing with aluminum,” Kristiansen said. “Less expensive than carbon fiber.”
And while all this sounds pretty spectacular for a gear junkie, the proof will be in the products. We can’t wait to get our hands on this new material and put it to some real-world testing.
Because when it comes to gear, light weight, strength, and sustainability are attributes everyone wants. If Allite Super Magnesium can deliver with few downsides, it could be set to shake up manufacturing.