Alcoa Challenges AHSS with New Aluminum Alloy

Written by Sandy Williams

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.

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