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Lightweight Metals 2018-2028: Forecasts, Developments, Players

Aluminium and magnesium metal alloys, metal matrix composites (MMC), porous metal foams and lattices

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The pressing need for solutions that provide the same functional capacity but at a lighter weight is apparent across numerous industries. One of the key industries driving this field is the transportation sector: CAFE regulations are putting pressure on transportation that use combustion engines to reduce their emissions and the electric variants have a pressing need for more mileage, lightweighting structural components are key solutions to this.
Lightweight metals provide the most advanced solution to meet these challenges. IDTechEx have analysed the complete supply chain for aluminium, magnesium, metal matrix composites (MMC), and metal foams. Each one stands at different levels of market maturity, but all possess underlying advancements in technological innovations and contain a wealth of opportunities.
Through extensive primary research, this report provides global analysis of this market including complete market forecasts and company profiles based on primary interviews from many of the most innovative emerging companies.
This is the most mature of the lightweight metals and it is not surprising that it is forecast to have a bright 10-year period with both production of primary and secondary metal increasing. Extrusions, castings, and rolled products all have their role to play and the transportation sector is set to be the key battleground.
One of the key emerging areas is the use of the lightest metals as alloying agents, these include:
  • Lithium is used in small percentages to great effect for the improvement of fatigue crack and corrosion resistance as well as enhanced specific strength and stiffness. The market opportunity is immediately apparent from the recent investments from the largest players (Arconic and Constellium) and significant announcements for example how it will be used in the fuselage of the next-generation Boeing 777X.
  • Scandium plays a key role in forming cuboid microstructures which provides an improved tensile strength and crucially both the reduction in crack formation and improved strength of welds. The limitation has always been the high price-tag, scandium is not directly mined and is rather a by-product of other mined products. This is about to change, there are lots of proposed mining projects current seeking permission, raising funds, and completing feasibility studies. If they were all to become operational the annual output of Scandium oxide (the metal precursor) would increase more than 20-fold within the 10-year period.
  • Beryllium will not have the same impact as the others. However, when used in a high volume percentages the effects on temperature stability and coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), coupled with the lightweight strength and stiffness advantages, has resulted in its use for precision avionic electronics and comparable applications to be on the rise.
At 1/3rd the weight of steel and abundant in the Earth's crust, the uptake of magnesium should be an obvious option. However, there are multiple challenges that this metal faces, including: brittleness when extruded, galvanic corrosion, a raw material process that releases significant CO2 (or a more environmental alternative that has a high capital investment), and a negative perception of the associated hazards.
Although the gap will close, IDTechEx forecast that the demand will remain below supply for the 10-year period. The predominant sector will remain the die casting of parts for the automotive sector, but key innovations and talking points also featured in this report include:
  • Large expansions using electrolysis technology for magnesium production
  • Initial projects using carbothermal reduction to produce magnesium
  • New alloys removing the need for rare earth additives
  • Melt conditioning process improve the potential in both direct chill and twin roll casting.
  • Rotational extrusion improves the ductility of magnesium parts.
  • Regulatory changes for the use in aerospace interiors
Metal Matrix Composites:
MMCs have a complicated history, with many periods of interest and investment but without more than a niche market persisting. IDTechEx have analysed the aluminium, titanium, and magnesium MMC industry and predict that this is set to change thanks to both strong demands and technological innovations.
The additives can be split into:
  • Nanotubes & 2D materials
  • Particles and nanoparticles
  • Discontinuous fibres or whiskers
  • Fibre monofilaments
  • Fibre tows
Within this report, each of these additives are discussed in granular detail including the underlying technology, main players, cost progressions, market dynamics, and much more.
Metal Foams:
Aluminium foams, usually in the form of sandwich panels, will grow moderately from small roots to a more significant industry. Open-cell structures will struggle against the rise of 3D printing of metals, but the cheaper closed cell variants will have some growth in rolling stock, automotive, building & construction, and military sectors.
The different manufacturing processes and the main players are all critically analysed in this report. IDTechEx believe the use of a blowing agent in a metal powder is the most promising with the ability to form strong metallurgical bonds with outer metal skins. Linked with MMCs, there is also the use of gas blowing through a liquid metal that can form the foam in a continuous methodology.
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Table of Contents
1.1.Lightweight metal introduction
1.2.Timeline for lightweight metals
1.3.Global aluminium forecast
1.4.Emerging aluminium alloys
1.5.Introduction to magnesium
1.6.Main players in supply chain
1.7.Market forecasts by process
1.8.Comparison of MMC additives by type
1.9.Overview of key MMC innovations
1.10.Aluminium MMC forecast by additive type and form
1.11.Metal foam formation - comparison and main players
1.12.Aluminium metal foam forecast
2.1.Aluminium introduction and properties
2.2.Aluminium-lithium alloys
2.3.Market forecast for Li-Al alloys
2.4.Aluminium-beryllium alloys
2.5.Market forecast for Be-Al alloys
2.6.Aluminium-scandium alloys
2.7.Scandium oxide forecast
2.9.Aluminium-steel alloy
2.10.Alloy with Si age hardening
2.11.Aluminium extrusions
2.12.Hot Form Quench (HFQ) methodology
2.13.Die Casting
2.14.High shear melt conditioning
2.15.Global aluminium forecast
2.16.Aluminium forecast for the automotive sector
2.17.Automotive - main Al players
2.18.Aluminium for EVs
3.1.Magnesium introduction
3.2.Advantages and disadvantages
3.3.Magnesium - properties
3.4.Main players in supply chain
3.5.Magnesium production expansions
3.6.Advancements in metal production
3.7.Carbothermal reduction for magnesium production
3.8.Introduction to part fabrication
3.9.Extrusion and casting
3.10.Die casting
3.11.Super vacuum die casting
3.12.Squeeze casting
3.14.Twin roll casting
3.15.Sheet rolling advancements
3.16.Rotational extrusion die
3.17.Casting alloys
3.18.Extrusion alloys
3.19.Magnesium-lithium alloys
3.20.High temperature magnesium alloys
3.21.Magnesium-rare earth (AE) alloys
3.22.New alloys
3.23.Magnesium recycling
3.24.Multi-material joining
3.25.Environmental impact and perception
3.26.Automotive applications
3.27.Magnesium automotive headlines
3.28.Aerospace applications
3.29.Aerospace interiors
3.30.Consumer electronics applications
3.31.Market forecasts by process
3.32.Market forecast by applications
4.1.Introduction to MMCs
4.2.Comparison of additives by type
4.3.Additive material tree
4.4.Overview of key innovations
4.5.Manufacturing processes
4.6.Metal particles as additives
4.7.Continuous ceramic fibre tows
4.8.Continuous ceramic fibres - applications
4.9.Chopped ceramic fibres - applications
4.10.Ceramic fibre monofilaments
4.11.Ceramic fibre monofilaments - applications
4.12.Ceramic particles - introduction
4.13.Ceramic particles - SiC
4.14.Ceramic particles - alumina
4.15.Ceramic particles - other
4.16.Ceramic particles - powder metallurgy
4.17.Ceramic particles - stabilised foam
4.18.Ceramic particles - hollow microspheres
4.19.Ceramic nanomaterials
4.20.Ceramic particle applications - automotive
4.21.Ceramic particle applications - aerospace and defence
4.22.Ceramic particle applications - electronic
4.23.Carbon fibre and graphite additives
4.24.Emerging research on CNT-MMC
4.25.Emerging research on BNNTs
4.26.Graphene reinforced aluminium
4.27.MMC public company analysis
4.28.Cost analysis and 10-year forecast
4.29.Timeline for aluminium MMCs
4.30.Application overview
4.31.Aluminium MMC forecast by additive type and form
4.32.Aluminium MMC forecast by application
5.1.Metal foams
5.1.1.Metal foam and sponge - introduction
5.1.2.Aluminium foam panel - properties
5.1.3.Aluminium foam and fiber reinforced plastics
5.1.4.Metal foam formation - overview
5.1.5.Comparison and main players
5.1.6.Formation - melt with blowing agent (Alporas)
5.1.7.Formation - melt with gas injection
5.1.8.Formation - powder with blowing agent
5.1.9.Formation - polymer framework
5.1.10.Formation - placeholders
5.1.11.Applications - overview of open vs closed cell metal foams
5.1.12.Applications - architecture
5.1.13.Applications - rolling stock
5.1.14.Applications - shipbuilding
5.1.15.Applications - aerospace
5.1.16.Applications - automotive
5.1.17.Applications - defence
5.1.18.Applications - other functional roles
5.1.19.Cost comparison and progression
5.1.20.Aluminium metal foam forecast
5.1.21.Closed aluminium metal foam application forecast
5.2.Metal lattices and honeycombs
5.2.1.Metal honeycombs - introduction
5.2.2.Aluminium honeycombs - players
5.2.3.Latticed sandwich structure
5.2.4.Aluminium truss and tubular cores
5.2.5.Metal microlattice
5.2.6.Printing metal foams
6.3.Composite Metal technology
6.4.CPS Technologies
6.5.Foamtech Global
6.6.FRA Composites
6.7.Gamma Alloys
6.8.GKN Powder Metallurgy
6.9.Havel Metal Foam
6.10.Materion AMC
6.11.Meridian Lightweight Tech
6.12.Pohltec Metal Foam
6.13.Rio Tinto Speciality products

Report Statistics

Slides 207
Forecasts to 2028

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