Alcoa opens world's largest aluminum-lithium plant in Lafayette

Image courtesy of Alcoa

Lightweight metals, technology, engineering and manufacturing firm Alcoa is opening the world’s largest aluminum-lithium plant in Lafayette. The company is investing $90 million in the facility, which is creating 75 jobs.

“The future of aviation is being built with aluminum-lithium, and Alcoa is making big moves to capture that demand,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This state-of-the-art facility positions Alcoa as the world’s premier aluminum-lithium supplier, offering the broadest portfolio of aluminum-lithium components for next generation aircraft.”

Alcoa’s Lafayette cast house, located next to its extrusion plant, can produce more than 20,000 metric tons (44 million pounds) of aluminum-lithium annually—making it the largest facility of its kind in the world. Alcoa’s materials scientists invented a majority of the alloys produced at the facility as well as the casting equipment and processing technology. The Company offers the most complete portfolio of aluminum-lithium products, including extruded, forged and rolled parts. It has the number one market position in aluminum-lithium extrusions and a significant position on the Airbus A380, Airbus A350, Boeing 787, and Gulfstream G650. Alcoa produces single-piece wing skins, including for wide-body airplanes, fuselage skins, wing stringers, floor beams, seat tracks and other components. The Company also is developing the first ever aluminum-lithium forging for a front fan blade for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engines.

The Lafayette facility is uniquely capable of making the world’s largest aluminum-lithium ingots—approximately 50 percent larger than the nearest competitor, and big enough to make any single-piece component on today’s aircraft. Complementing that capability, Alcoa operates the world’s widest, 220” rolling mill at its facility in Davenport, Iowa, making it the only company capable of producing single-piece aluminum-lithium wing skins for the largest commercial airplanes. Single-piece parts make structures stronger, lighter and less expensive because they minimize the number of complex joints.

Source: Alcoa Press Release

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