Lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing leader Alcoa today announced that R&D Magazine has named Alcoa 951 — an enabler for adhesive bonding of aluminum-intensive vehicles (AIVs) — an R&D 100 Award winner.
The 52nd Annual R&D Awards, known as the "Oscars of Invention", recognize the top 100 technology innovations introduced in the past year across industry, academia and government-sponsored research.
As automakers use aluminum body structures to improve fuel efficiency and performance, new joining and assembly methods are required. The patented Alcoa 951 pretreatment bonding technology is up to nine times more durable than the competition. It enhances bond durability and enables more cost-effective, mass production of AIVs. Alcoa 951 also uses organic, environmentally friendly materials, and the ultra-thin profile of the treatment more readily accepts spot welds and rivets, making it easier to use these processes to add strength during manufacturing.
"The Alcoa 951 pretreatment technology came out of our commitment to making superior products for our customers,” said Dr. Raymond Kilmer, Alcoa’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “We worked closely with the automotive companies to understand what was keeping them from taking that next step into high volume, aluminum intensive structures, and from that effort, our surface and joining experts developed this breakthrough pretreatment.”
Kilmer added, “It’s an honor to be recognized with this R&D 100 award. We are continuing to develop technologies that our customers want for their next generation vehicles, including new alloys, fasteners, and energy systems for electric vehicles.”
Today, Alcoa’s plant in Davenport, Iowa, has a state-of-the-art automotive treatment line that applies Alcoa 951 to the aluminum sheet before it is shipped to customers. The technology was co-invented by Alcoa scientists Sherri McCleary and Jim Marinelli, and has been licensed to Chemetall in an exclusive global distribution agreement.
"Alcoa 951 is rapidly becoming the industry standard because it simply outperforms the competition,” said Mark Vrablec, President, Global Aerospace, Transportation and Industrial Rolled Products at Alcoa. “For automakers that want the best long-term performance for their aluminum-intensive vehicles, this is the clear choice. It is widely regarded as one of the core enablers to the big automotive shift into aluminum vehicles."
The amount of aluminum body sheet content in North American vehicles is expected to quadruple by 2015 and increase tenfold by 2025 from 2012 levels. To capture that growth, Alcoa invested $300 million in an automotive expansion in Davenport, Iowa, which is now complete, and $300 million in a second automotive expansion in Tennessee, which is on schedule for completion in mid 2015. Alcoa projects that this added capacity will grow auto sheet revenues six fold from 2013 to $1.3 billion in 2018.
Alcoa 951 was also recognized as the "Best Product Innovation" at Metal Bulletin’s Global Awards for Aluminium Excellence earlier this year in Geneva, Switzerland. Alcoa and other R&D 100 award winners will be recognized at a black-tie event on November 7 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.