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Sep 23, 2011

Company to increase aluminium alloy production

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Aluminium products devel- oper Constellium plans to inaugurate two new foundries in Issoire and Voreppe, in France, during the last quarter of this year to increase production of its Airware technology, which comprises a range of complementary, high-performance and low-density alloys that are suited for use in all parts of an aircraft’s primary structure.

The company launched the Airware technology, which is aimed at reducing the weight of aircraft structures and lowering assembly and maintenance costs, in July last year.

The technology is expected to improve the aerospace industry’s efficiency and reduce its overall environmental footprint, as the alloys are 100% recyclable and can result in a 20% reduction in the weight of primary aircraft parts.

“With Airware, we are the first to launch and industrialise a technology that meets the challenges of producing ever- lighter aircraft with a lower environmental impact that meets the industry’s economic management criteria,” says Constellium Global Aerospace division president Christophe Villemin.

The company says that major aircraft manufacturers have already selected the technology for use in their new aircraft.

Airbus will use Airware metal sheets and forged parts to manu- facture the key structural elements of the wings of its new wide-bodied, twin-engine A350-XWB aircraft, while Bombardier will use the technology in the fuselage skin, stringer, frame and floor plates of its CSeries aircraft.

Constellium notes that production of the Airware technology has already started at it Ravenswood plant, in the US, and at its Issoire site, in France, but adds that the inauguration of the two new foundries will allow for increased production.

The company announced last year that it would invest €42.5-million in these two sites.

The Issoire foundry will be equipped with the first industrial casthouse capable of producing the advanced low-density Air- ware alloys, while the Voreppe research and development site foundry will focus on developing new applications.

These industrial and technological capabilities will be key to Airware’s success with future aircraft programmes, states Constellium.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced that it will invest about €3.8-million to enhance the performance and efficiency of its Nuits-Saint-Georges and Saint Florentin extrusion sites, in France, to enable it to meet increasing demand in the market.

It will invest a total of €1.8-million at the Nuits-Saint-Georges plant, which supplies the auto- motive and other industrial markets, by the end of this year. This will include an investment of €800 000 on the renovation of the plant’s welding system to reduce scrap volumes.

Constellium will also invest a total of €2-million for new equipment at the Saint Florentin plant, which specialises in the production of high value added products for industry and the building construction market, by the end of the year.

This is expected to reduce the volume of aluminium scrap by about 500 t.

“These investments are part of our ongoing programme to enhance the performance of our extrusion activities,” says Constellium Extrusion & Automotive Structures division president Paul Warton.

Constellium, which was formerly Alcan Engineered Products, is 39%-owned by diversified miner Rio Tinto.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
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