By Dr. Cameron Chai
Alcoa, a manufacturer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina, has received a $2.1 million contract from the U.S. Navy to develop advanced welding technologies to decrease aluminum-intensive shipbuilding costs.
A collaboration program has been developed by scientists at New Kensington, Pennsylvania-based Alcoa Technical Center and Government Affairs team of Alcoa to work on the contract. Under the program, the company will employ the high-deposition gas metal arc welding techniques to build marine structures. This will enable the Navy to minimize manufacturing costs on ships and the recent shipbuilding plans are expected to save about $200 million for the Navy.
The semi-automated metal arc welding process will be implemented to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and it can also be applied to the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) and various other aluminum-intensive ships of the Navy. The process minimizes weld passes, which reduces labor costs and enhances weld quality.
Dr. Ray Kilmer, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Alcoa, stated that the company’s technical expertise and materials know-how allow shipbuilders to simplify manufacturing processes and construct an enhanced, low-cost ship. The company has secured $8 million worth R&D contracts from the U.S. military in the last 12 months.