Alcoa, a company specializing in lightweight metals technology, has developed an advanced manufacturing technology called the Alcoa MicromillTM which will redefine the future of automotive aluminum products.
This innovative technology helps in producing highly sophisticated aluminum sheet, and will enable Alcoa to capitalize on the growing demand for automotive sheet.
The unique feature of the Micromill process is that it alters the microstructure of the metal and produces automotive alloy that is 30% stronger than aluminum and 40% more formable than parts fabricated from high strength steel. This Alcoa-patented process also meets rigorous automotive surface quality requirements and is covered by over 130 patents worldwide.
Aluminum sheet produced through the Micromill process can be easily molded into complex and intricate forms, such as external fenders and the interior panels of automobile doors. The improved material strength will not only enhance dent resistance, but would also allow the production of thinner and lighter automotive sheet than that of earlier counterparts.
Automakers can also reduce their system costs by simplifying the number of aluminum alloys utilized in their production process. For instance, a standard rolling mill takes approximately 20 days to convert molten metal into coil.
Alcoa Micromill represents a major breakthrough in aluminum materials. This technology will unlock the next generation of automotive products with strength, formability and surface quality combinations never before possible.
It will allow our customers to redefine the boundaries of vehicle design, supporting the creation of lighter, more fuel efficient, safer and more stylish vehicles for the future.
Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
In contrast, the Micromill process achieves all these procedures in just 20 minutes, thus making it a fast aluminum casting and rolling solution. Other benefits of the Alcoa Micromill technology include a smaller footprint and reduced energy consumption by as much as 50%.
Alcoa has signed a strategic development deal and has successfully completed customer product trials. The company is now qualifying the Micromill material for applications in next-generation automotive platforms.
With growing demand for lighter and more fuel efficient cars, the Micromill continuous casting technology has the required flexibility to suit packaging, automotive, and industrial markets.