Aluminum specialist Constellium’s new foundry in Issoire, France, is up and running–a key step in a strategy aimed at regaining some of the ground lost to composite materials in aircraft construction. The casting house focuses on a new family of alloys, dubbed Airware, which are lighter than the previous generation made of aluminum-lithium.
A new aluminum-lithium foundry in Issoire, France, opened March 26 by aluminum specialist Constellium embodies the latest effort to regain ground lost to composite materials in aircraft construction. Dedicated to a new line of alloys dubbed Airware, the new casthouse has the capacity to produce 14,000 metric tons of aluminum-lithium per year, making it the world’s first large-scale production facility of the alloy.
Aluminum product developer Constellium (Hall 4 Stand H11) is increasing the percentage of recycled metal in the aircraft parts it produces, as it vies to lower the cost and environmental impact of using metals and to prove that composites are not the answer to everything. The French group’s latest Airware technology is now at the production stage for new airliner programs such as the Airbus A350 XWB and the Bombardier CSeries.
Aluminum product developer Constellium wants to increase the percentage of recycled metal it produces for aerospace in a bid to realize both economic and environmental goals. The value of such alloys has grown with the addition of elements such as copper, silver and—critically—lithium. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of aluminum costs about $2, while one kilogram of lithium—the lightest metal in nature—costs $100.
Aluminum specialist Alcan (Hall 2 Stand B19) is developing new alloys and new processes to better compete with composite materials, the proportion of which has been steadily increasing in airframes over the past decades. At Voreppe in France, Alcan Engineered Products (Alcan EP) has a major research-and-development (R&D) center to devise and test these solutions.