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Tom Pullizzi has provided and made available here a detailed and well-researched report on magnesium surface treatments.
With the ever increasing consumer demand for small, light, and portable electronic devices like cell phones and stylus-operated computers, magnesium and its surface treatment have become increasingly important.
At the same time, environmental pressures have made many of the older surface treatments undesirable and in some cases have forbidden their use in some countries and on some applications.
Newer alternatives are available to supplant the older and more toxic treatments; these are based on fluoride processes, silanes, cerium-based processes, micro-arc oxidation, electroplating, and electroless nickel plating. These newer processes are, in general, either retained as trade secrets or covered by active (rather than expired) patents and thus are only available from the patent holders.
The major suppliers of proprietary plating processes offer proprietary magnesium treatments and should be consulted for these replacement technologies, or computerized literature searches of the more recent issues of the surface finishing journals can be conducted.