Alcoa was awarded Metal Bulletin’s top innovation prize for the company’s breakthrough technology enabling the production of more aluminum-intensive vehicles. Alcoa’s invention, an aluminum bonding technology, won “Best Product Innovation” of 2013 at the publication’s Global Awards for Aluminium Excellence in Geneva.
“Alcoa is honored to receive this prestigious award for our game-changing technology that opens the door for more aluminum-based vehicles,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and CEO. “Alcoa’s experts continue to expand the bounds of aluminum applications. Through our latest breakthrough technology, Alcoa is capturing growth in the auto industry as more manufacturers shift to making fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers want.”
Alcoa’s technology, called Alcoa 951, is an aluminum pretreatment process that results in enhanced adhesive bonding durability and overcomes previous challenges with joining aluminum to itself or other materials. It has become the auto industry standard for aluminum sheet, extrusion and casting suppliers. In customer trials, Alcoa 951 was proven to be up to nine times more durable than previously used titanium zirconium. In addition, Alcoa 951 employs organic, environmentally-friendly materials as opposed to other commercially available coatings which generally contain heavy metals and are measurably thicker, leading to potential environmental concerns and diminished performance in other manufacturing processes. Following a very positive response from auto manufacturers, Alcoa is licensing its technology to all aluminum suppliers in the industry.
Aluminum use in cars is expected to nearly double by 2025, as automotive manufacturers make cars more fuel efficient by using lightweight aluminum materials. To meet increasing demand for aluminum for vehicle production, Alcoa is investing approximately $575 million to expand its auto sheet business in the United States—in Davenport, Iowa and Alcoa, Tennessee. In addition, Alcoa is building a rolling mill at its greenfield joint venture project in Saudi Arabia with the capacity to produce aluminum automotive sheet. The projects will incorporate, through Alcoa’s supply chain, the proprietary Alcoa 951 pretreatment bonding technology.
Winners of the Metal Bulletin Global Awards for Aluminium Excellence were determined by a panel of industry experts based upon a fully audited, point-based judging process to ensure integrity and objectivity.