LIFT Launches Project With Michigan Startup To Advance Automotive and Warfighter Safety

Project team exploring magnesium alloy extrusions to reduce weight of auto and defense applications

DETROIT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), a national manufacturing innovation institute operated by the American Lightweight Materials Innovation Institute, has joined with Michigan Upper Peninsula-based startup Loukus Technologies to launch a “Fast Forge” project exploring the use of ductile magnesium-based alloys for extrusions used in automotive, defense and consumer applications.

The project team, which includes LIFT, Loukus Technologies, Eck Industries and Michigan Technological University, aims to extrude magnesium alloys with high room temperature ductility (>25%). In turn, this process will lead to a roadmap of magnesium alloy design and development, and a materials properties database of how they can be used in future applications.

Magnesium is a light metal; however, it is not as strong as other metals used in the defense and automotive industries. By developing new alloys to extrude, the team seeks to develop processes which will allow magnesium to be used in armor and automotive structures to help reduce weight. The project team also believes the material toughness can be further improved with alloy development and various heat treatment techniques.

“Magnesium alloys could certainly provide tremendous benefit across industries due to it’s weight-savings potential and ability to form complex geometries through casting, extrusion and forging,” said Hadrian Rori, chief technology officer for LIFT. “With the efforts this project team is putting forth, there is definitely some promise to increase the strength-to-weight ratio of magniesium alloys, enabling it to be used in more applications where that strength and toughness is needed, such as armor or auto frames.”

“We currently extrude various magnesium alloys, but this project will help develop extrusions with improved room temperature formability. Our team is taking a vertically integrated approach to control alloying, casting, extruding, and heat treatment,” said Adam Loukus, Ph.D, CEO of Loukus Technologies. “We are using simulation and analysis tools to determine how various alloying elements and processing techniques affect final material properties.”

Through the project, the team expects to deliver:

  • An extruded magnesium alloy component with properties enhanced by alloy development and thermo-mechanical processing
  • A road map of magnesium alloy development – from alloy design to final extruded product
  • A database of material properties of magnesium alloys available for consideration for other applications

The project, with a total value of approximately $400,000, is expected to be completed in December 2019.

LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight material manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is one of the founding institutes of Manufacturing USA, and is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

Joe Steele