In terms of metal finishing, the automotive market has always been a significant industry. This situation does not appear likely to change any time soon. By 2022, the automotive coatings revenue is anticipated to exceed $27 billion. Despite this success, however, the industry is expected to undergo an alteration, thanks to environmental priorities sparking rapid change. This innovation will undeniably have an impact on suppliers of supply plated components to the automotive market.
The Road to Low-Weight Vehicles
One of the most immediately obvious developments to consider within the automotive industry is the advancement of the electric car. Charging stations are a common sight these days, and many mainstream car manufacturers now offer pure electric or hybrid cars.
Light electric vehicles, or LEVs, represent the fastest projected growth in the electric vehicle sector. LEVs weigh less than 100 kg, which includes e-bikes. It is predicted that his small electric vehicle market will reach $28 billion globally by 2024 as emission targets become more restricted.
The focus for most vehicles is fuel efficiency, and the internal combustion engine is not yet extinct. One of the best and simplest ways of making fuel go further is to make the vehicle lighter. To do this, many manufacturers are increasingly considering innovative lightweight materials such as plastic, and using many more lightweight materials within the vehicle. One material often considered for use is magnesium alloy, one of the lightest structural materials available on the market.
Magnesium alloys are not a new phenomenon and have been used in wheels for decades. The magnesium alloy wheel market is predicted to continue undergoing growth in the next few years. The need for high-quality magnesium alloy wheels has increased with a robust parts market and an upsurge in motorsport in developing countries. The predicted rate of growth is an immense CAGR of 20.4% by 2021.
Today, brake systems, power steering, support brackets and housings are all users of magnesium alloy thanks to its lightweight and strong qualities. However, magnesium alloy has several major disadvantages: it is highly reactive and quick to corrode, particularly in vehicle-based environments.
Plating on Magnesium Alloy
Parts made from magnesium alloy require plating with zinc, nickel or chrome to protect them from rapid corrosion, which is a likelihood when used in cars.
In the case of alloy wheels, this additionally improves their aesthetic appearance – both common uses which translate into good news for plating suppliers. However, it is more of a challenge to plate on magnesium than on other substrates.
Magnesium’s high reactivity makes it immensely difficult to attain a reliable, high-quality finish. To achieve this finish, it is essential to prepare and clean the magnesium-based substrate before the plating process.
Though it has drawbacks, the magnesium alloy plating industry is sure to represent enormous commercial success in years to come. The need to ensure a high-quality, consistent coating will be a chief goal for manufacturers, which will be helped along by Hitachi’s XRF equipment.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.
For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.