Novelis has unveiled Novelis Fusion technology, a new process that simultaneously casts multiple alloy layers into a single aluminum rolling ingot. This marks the first time that any company has achieved the commercial production of multi- alloy aluminum ingots.
"This is a game-changing technology," said Brian Sturgell, president and chief executive officer of Novelis. "Engineers have tried for decades to cast multi-alloy ingots in a commercial environment. Novelis has now succeeded, demonstrating our ability to achieve -- and commercialize -- significant innovations that will enhance existing markets and permit development of new markets."
Novelis Fusion technology produces a high quality ingot with a core of one aluminum alloy, combined with one or more layers of different aluminum alloy(s). The ingot can then be rolled into a sheet product with different properties on the inside and the outside, allowing previously unattainable performance for flat rolled products and creating opportunity for new, premium applications.
Conventional single-alloy products require customers to choose an alloy based either on the required core properties such as strength, or the desired surface characteristics such as corrosion-resistance. Novelis Fusion technology can satisfy both needs in the same product.
"No longer will customers need to make trade-offs between core properties and surface properties in their aluminum sheet products," said Sturgell. "Now they can achieve the optimal combination of both. This technology positions Novelis to provide even greater support to our customers' success by helping them improve their current products and, more importantly, to develop a new generation of products with superior performance."
Previously, multi-alloy aluminum sheet products were achievable only through a low-tech, high-cost, manual ingot-cladding process and were limited to a small range of alloys. The new Novelis Fusion technology produces a perfect metallurgical bond between the alloy layers and permits alloy combinations never before possible in aluminum rolling. Novelis has filed patents on this technology in countries worldwide.
"Novelis Fusion technology adds a new level of flexibility on an industrial scale," said Thomas W. Eagar, Sc.D., professor of materials engineering and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It is the most significant breakthrough in aluminum solidification since the introduction of direct chill casting in the 1930s."
The market potential for Novelis Fusion technology is with customers in industries such as automotive, architectural, building and construction, durable goods, electronics and transportation, to name a few. Examples of potential applications include:
- Automotive sheet with both strength and improved formability to enable new design options.
- Architectural applications with a superior surface finish and enhanced strength.
- Household appliances with a variety of attractive finishes and better dent resistance.
- Underground pipes with maximum corrosion resistance combined with high strength.
- Rail cars with high load-carrying capacity and better wear resistance.
- Electronics cases that are highly durable and provide a high-tech appearance.
- Boat hulls with enhanced corrosion resistance without compromising strength.
Novelis Fusion entered into commercial production in March of this year at the company's rolling mill in Oswego, N.Y. Initial production capacity is 70,000 metric tons per year. Novelis has successfully cast hundreds of ingots of more than 50 different aluminum alloy combinations, and customer shipments of Novelis Fusion sheet products are under way.