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Magnesium is a light metal used as an alloying agent in a number of metals, such as aluminium. Alloys of magnesium have many useful properties, such as their light weight, high specific strength and stiffness, good damping capacity, close dimensional tolerance and ease of fabrication. Alloys of magnesium are used in hand tools, sporting goods and luggage frames, cameras, household appliances, business machines and automobile parts. The high temperature at which magnesium burns also makes it a good material for fireworks, sparklers and pyrotechnic devices. It is also used for photoengraving plates in the printing industry.
The main commercial source of magnesium is dolomite, which is sintered in a rotary kiln and calcined into calcine white before reduction to produce crude magnesium. The calcined white is mixed with a small amount of ferrosilicon powder and fluorite powder to form a group, which is put into the reduction furnace for reduction at 1200-1250°C and 1.33Pa vacuum degree of vacuum to yield molten magnesium. After casting and surface treatment, the molten magnesium is turned into ingots.
The quality of a magnesium die-casting is dependent on the purity of the magnesium ingot used to make it. Therefore, companies that produce magnesium ingots have established quality assurance processes to check for impurities in their products. These include optical emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy and gravimetric analysis. Other techniques, such as fast neutron activation analysis and metallography, are also used.