Paris-headquartered aluminium specialist Constellium plans to open this year two new foundries for its new Airware alloy, which Airbus and Bombardier selected for the A350 and CSeries.
One foundry is being built in Issoire, central France, for industrial component production while the other, in Voreppe, near Grenoble, will focus mainly on research and development. The combined investment for both facilities, which are to be opened in the fourth quarter, was $42 million.
Constellium, formerly known as Alcan Engineered Products, said that the aluminium-lithium-based alloy is 25% lighter than conventional alloys, has 100% better corrosion and fatigue behaviour - leading to a 12-year heavy maintenance cycle - and can be infinitely recycled without quality loss.
While previous aluminium-lithium alloys were held back by process difficulties, the company managed to overcome the issues by employing additional metals such as silver and copper, said Bruno Chenal, technology and innovation director. However, he sees potential yet to double the material's performance through further research.
Chenal said the main advantage of the alloy over composites is that manufacturers can employ conventional metal capabilities with less risk than introducing new composite manufacturing methods. Nevertheless, the new material opens doors for new metal bonding methods such as friction and laser beam welding, he added.
Airbus selected Airware for internal components in the A350 wing while Bombardier employs the material for fuselage frames and panels.
Source: Flight Daily News