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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 166 (144)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 166
Page 166

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 166

Magnesium, The Newest Structural Material

Light, Rigid, Strong, War-Developed Metal Will Have Many Uses in Post-War Theatres

The theatres of our country expreSs a freedom of imagination on the part of designers which is rarely equalled in other structures, public or private. Constant effort is being exerted to enhance the beauty of theatres and increase the comfort of their patrons. In this effort, a variety of new ideas in the use of estab lished materials has been developed, and rather than resisting the advent of new and unusual materials and ideas, theatre designers, owners, and architects seem to welcome those which will widen the scope of their efforts.

The newest of structural metals, magnesium, is now ready for utilization, and it should prove of interest to anyone who is concerned with designing, constructing, remodeling or equipping theatres. The value of magnesium to the industry can best be determined by the industry itself, once it is aware of the characteristics of the metal. No attempt has previously been made to introduce this material to the theatre industry. Lacking a background of experience in that field, we who know magnesium can only offer the knowledge of the metal we have acquired over the past twenty-five years and suggest possibilities of its usefulness to you.


Magnesium became a common news item at the beginning of the war, when it was spotlighted by the government as

MAGNESIUM CHAIR, made from the Dow Chemical Company's Dowmetal, is one of a hundred such which have been in constant use at the Midland Country Club, Midland, Michigan, for over 10 years.


Sales Manager, Magnesium Division of the Dow Chemiral Company

one of our most critical materials. New plants were erected for its production in many parts of the country. For some years prior to that time, the Dow Chemical Company had been the only producer of the virgin metal, a few companies were fabricating it, and perhaps a few hundred other companies had found it useful in their products. Total production in 1939 was about 6,000,000 pounds a year. By 1942, production capacity in the United States had reached almost 600,000,000 pounds a year. Several different companies were operating government-owned production plants, and dozens of foundries and fabricating shops were converting the metal into parts fOr military aircraft and other military equipment.

Technologically, magnesium was ready for this tremendous expansion. Years of research effort had resulted in the development of strong, durable alloys, and eflicient methods of casting, extruding, forging, rolling, welding, and finishing the metal. Its use in aircraft had been steadily expanding, and had been extended to purely industrial products, such as portable tools, business machines, and handling equipment. With the advent of the war all civilian uses of the metal were cut off, and the entire fabricating capacity of the country was devoted to furnishing war material. This wartime expansion has had a significant edect on the magnesium industry. Advantage was taken of the opportunity to apply mass production techniques to handling of the metal, its serviceability has been proven under a wide range of service conditions, and thousands of people who were unaware of the metal five years ago have become familiar with its characteristics.

Magnesium is obtained from underground brines, sea water, and several natural ores. The method of extracting it from sea water is one of the most significant advances in the field of chemical engineering in recent years. At a plant on the Gulf Coast in Texas, millions of gallons of sea water are treated daily to obtain magnesium chloride, .which is decomposed in electrolytic cells to extract metallic magnesium. To this pure magnesium are added small amounts of alloying metals, such as aluminum, manganese, and zinc, to make commercial alloys. The sea-water process has made magnesium the most available of all structural metalsethere are about nine billion recoverable pounds in a cubic mile of ocean water.



Since the first ingot of magnesium was produced, we have learned how properly to handle the metal so that today ellicient techniques of fabrication are established, and further improvements are constantly being made. Magnesium can be furnished in the form of sand or die castings, extrusions, forgings and sheet. It can be cut, formed, welded, riveted and painted. This adaptability to all types of fabrication methods gives the designer choice of a wide range of physical forms.


Magnesiumls most notable and most important characteristic is its extreme lightness. Iron weighs more than four times as much, and aluminum is 50 per cent heavier. This light weight, plus good strength properties, aroused the interest of aircraft manufacturers more than ten years ago. In anything that moves or is moved, reduction of unproductive weight through the use of magnesium results in easier handling, lower labor costs, increased payloads, or greater operating speeds. In static structures, magnesium can reduce the amount of material usually necessary for support of the structure. Such savings are obtainable without any sacrifice in strength.

There are other ways in which the lightness of magnesium can be used in

EASILY LIFTE'D is this wheelbarrow, fabricated from the Dow Chemical Company's Dowmetal and weighing only 30 pounds, in contrast to the 85 pounds a steel barrow of the some proportions would weigh.

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 166