A fresh challenge to advanced high strength steel has emerged with a new product from Alcoa called Micromill. The new alloy is stronger, lighter and more formable than previous aluminum alloys.
“We cracked the magic formula,” said Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld during the Q4 2014 earnings call. “In the past, if you wanted more formability, you typically had to give up strength. If you wanted more strength, you had to give up also on weight. So you typically had stronger, which was heavier, which was less formable, that’s breaking the formula.”
Another advantage of the new alloy is the ability to produce it quickly. “What used to take 20 days to go from melting to rolling that coin, now in the micro-metal process takes 20 minutes. It all happens in a footprint that’s about a quarter of a conventional mill,” said Kleinfeld. The new alloy will be a value-added product sold at value-add premium margins.
Alcoa has successfully completed customer trials and has secured an unnamed strategic development customer. The company has prioritized the automotive industry for use of the new alloy but the micro-metal process can be applied to many other applications, said Kleinfeld. Alcoa is in the process of seeking qualification for specific automotive platforms which will mean limited use in 2015, but Kleinfeld stressed that the product is a breakthrough that the company is very confident in.
Sandy WilliamsRead more from Sandy Williams
Latest in Economy
Fed Beige Book: Economic activity slows in many districts
In its Beige Book report released on Nov. 29, the Federal Reserve noted slower economic activity since October's report.
American steel firms’ fundamentals sound for 2024: Fitch
Sector fundamentals for US steel companies remain solid overall, according to ratings agency Fitch’s 2024 outlook report.
Durable goods orders slip in October
New orders for manufactured durable goods fell in the US in October.
October US housing starts inch higher but remain down on-year
US housing starts crept higher for a second consecutive month in October. Starts were lower, however than the same month last year, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Down for Multifamily and Single-Family Starts
Increasing mortgage rates have caused builders to lose confidence in the market, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).