Aluminium fights back in aerospace
Aluminium usage is growing in the aerospace industry after battling to maintain a footprint over the past seven years, according to a senior executive at Alcoa.
“In 2006, people thought aluminium in aerospace was over,” Dietrich Weiser, director of rolled products at Alcoa, told delegates at Metal Bulletin’s Aluminium Alloys and their Applications conference in Munich.
With the growth of composite materials in the manufacture of commercial aircraft it was assumed that aluminium usage would peter out in aerospace applications, but alumina usage in aircrafts has been sustained due to the high cost of composites and innovation in aluminium.
“Composites are very expensive, and by 2025 the cost per lb is only expected to fall by about 16%,” Weiser said. “The cost is prohibitive– more composite requires more titanium, which is more expensive and heavier than aluminium.”
Alcoa itself is producing its third generation of aluminium-lithium alloys, which have become popular among aircraft manufacturers.
Weiser expects aluminium usage to rise in aircraft manufacture over the next ten years, as new aluminium products are introduced and the adoption of plastics continues at a slower pace than originally expected.
But the main driver for that growth will be the huge global demand for aircraft.
“All materials [in aerospace] will do well – there will be 1,400 commercial aircraft built this year, and more than 1,600 in 2016. There is a huge backlog,” Weiser said.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing expects an average demand of 1,800 new planes per year for the next ten years.
“There’s never been a better time to be in aerospace,” Weiser said.
Publish date : Friday 28 March 2014 20:23
Story Code: 5869