"I trust in magnesium die casting"

Hartmut Fischer, Plant Manager of the STIHL die-casting foundry, talks to Foundry-Planet about the benefits, sustainability, and future of magnesium die-casting.

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Thomas Fritsch, Chief Editor
Hartmut Fischer

Hartmut Fischer likes to think back to EUROGUSS 2024, because the mood was positive and that is particularly important for the German and European economy right now.

When it comes to magnesium, the entrepreneur goes into raptures and says quite openly: "I am fighting for the competitiveness of magnesium die casting. It must not be jeopardised by political frameworks and constraints."

The competitiveness of magnesium die casting must not be jeopardised by politics

As head of the STIHL magnesium foundry in D4, Fischer is familiar with the different energy costs in Europe, the excessive bureaucracy, the pressure of wage and ancillary labour costs through to the Supply Chain Act and the associated documentation requirements. "These are the conditions that make it particularly difficult for industry, especially in Germany, and that is why we are appealing to those responsible in politics and society not to place an undue burden on industry and to stop new regulations," Fischer states.

STIHL, which operates worldwide, is committed to its location in Germany and intends to continue investing in the future. This is about the advantages of the location, the expertise, and the well-trained employees, which must be maintained and strengthened at all costs. "However, Germany as a business location must become much more competitive in order to improve the attractiveness of investing here," emphasises Fischer.

How is magnesium currently doing?

At the end of 2021, magnesium was in the headlines due to supply bottlenecks, when there were sometimes shortages in some companies and prices skyrocketed. "This all normalized long ago," emphasises Fischer, even though the price level has settled higher.

There are now various new magnesium extraction projects around the world, including in Europe. This means that there is a wider supply, including magnesium from Europe, so that the disadvantages can no longer have such a strong impact.

What makes magnesium such an attractive material for castings?

Magnesium die casting is used in a wide variety of industrial sectors and offers the following advantages over aluminium and steel, depending on the specific requirements (among others):

  • Weight saving: magnesium is the lightest structural metal, which leads to significant weight savings, crucial for example in the automotive or motorbike industry. Recently, e-bikes are a good example.
  • High specific strength: Magnesium alloys offer a good combination of strength and weight, 30% less weight compared to aluminium
  • Good thermal conductivity: Magnesium has a high thermal conductivity
  • Mouldability: Magnesium alloys have good castability and can achieve complex geometries with thin wall thicknesses
  • Electromagnetic shielding: Magnesium offers high shielding to minimise electromagnetic interference

These are advantages that are particularly important in lightweight construction in the automotive industry, aerospace, electronics, sports and work equipment and medical technology.

At STIHL, the leading manufacturer of chainsaws and motorised garden and landscape equipment, the use of magnesium die casting plays a special role. The weight saving makes a lot of sense, especially for components that are installed in end products for mobile use.

STIHL– D4 2022:

  • Around 40 million die-cast parts / approx. 900 employees / remelting capacity 4500 tonnes / CO2-neutral Scope 1 and 2
  • High vertical range of manufacture. All production processes in-house, from casting to powder coating, machining and pre-assembly
  • Mg hot chamber specialist: 30 casting machines up to 1000 tonnes clamping force

How sustainable is the use of magnesium die casting?

Thanks to the purchase of offset certificates, STIHL is already CO2-neutral in terms of its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and is relaxed about the climate regulations. Magnesium is a material that can be optimally recycled and impresses with its durability and efficiency.

As a lightweight material (30% less than aluminium), it contributes per se to reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Where is the future of magnesium die casting heading?

"Magnesium is the brilliant material that never quite made the big breakthrough," Fischer admits. However, it can certainly compete with aluminium and steel.

Magnesium has great potential in the automotive sector. But there are also advantages for e-bikes, the aircraft industry and everywhere else where the material is specifically used. In China, Fischer sees a completely different drive in the use of magnesium in lightweight construction, for example in the truck sector, which is why it is worth having a look at the China from time to time.

When it comes to drives for chainsaws and other power tools, Hartmut Fischer is a pragmatist. "Electric motors are clearly on the rise and also offer a good range of performance, but the further away you are from the nearest power socket, the more sophisticated combustion engines are recommended."

This fits in with the fundamental attitude of the man, who is in favour of the competitiveness of his material magnesium and wants an open-minded approach to technology for important future issues.

About Hartmut Fischer:

Hartmut Fischer 
65 years old, married, 3 children
Dipl.-Ing. (University of Hanover)
Professional background STIHL (37 years):
Engineer / Advance Development Supervisor
Head of reliability testing department for chainsaws
Head of R&D department, head of cylinder production STIHL Brazil
Head of department for professional chainsaw projects
Director of Research & Development Services
Managing Director Operations / President STIHL Brazil
Managing Director STIHL Magnesium Die Casting Weinsheim
10 years Chairman, Board Member, President European Garden Machinery Federation(EGMF)

Honorary posts currently:
President of the German Die Casting Association (VDD)
President of the International Magnesium Association (IMA)
Memberships and positions BDGUSS, VDD, IMA

About STIHL:
The STIHL Group develops, manufactures, and sells power tools for forestry and agriculture as well as for landscape maintenance, construction, and private garden owners. The product range is complemented by digital solutions and services. The products are generally sold via service-providing specialist dealers and STIHL's own online shops, which will be expanded internationally over the next few years - with 42 own sales and marketing companies, around 120 importers and more than 55,000 specialised retailers in over 160 countries.

STIHL produces in seven countries worldwide: Germany, USA, Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, China, and the Philippines. STIHL has been the world's best-selling chainsaw brand since 1971. The company was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in Waiblingen near Stuttgart. STIHL achieved a turnover of 5.49 billion euros in 2022 with 20,552 employees worldwide.


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