Ford, Alcoa Collaborate on Next-Generation Automotive Alloys
Sept. 16, 2015—Ford Motor Company and Alcoa Inc. are collaborating to produce next-generation automotive alloys that are more formable and design-friendly, Ford announced on Monday.
Alcoa’s Micromill technology produces an aluminum alloy that is 40 percent more formable than today’s automotive aluminum. Micromill material will be used in multiple components on the 2016 Ford F-150.
Ford will be the first automaker to use the advanced automotive aluminum commercially, as the companies entered into a joint development agreement to collaborate on next-generation aluminum alloys for automotive parts using Micromill technology.
‘‘Light-weighting enables us to design vehicles with great customer attributes – like the F-150, which can tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop faster than the previous F-150, and is more fuel-efficient than ever,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president and chief technical officer, Global Product Development. “This collaboration supports our continued drive for innovation, as we research automotive applications for even greater light-weighting.”
“Alcoa’s breakthrough Micromill technology offers highly differentiated automotive material with strength, weight, formability and surface quality combinations previously impossible,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and chief executive officer. “This high-tech aluminum will give Ford a true material edge enabling greater design flexibility and better vehicle performance – making the concept cars of tomorrow a reality.”
Micromill aluminum’s increased formability makes it easier to shape into intricate forms to better be used in the inside panels of automobile doors and external fenders. The increased material strength allows for the use of thinner aluminum sheet without compromising dent resistance.
Ford will start using Micromill material in 2016 F-150 production in the fourth quarter of 2015 and plans to increase its use over the next several years. Ford has projected that its use of Micromill material on its vehicles will more than double from 2016 to 2017.
The aluminum alloy produced using the Micromill process has already been validated by Ford engineers to ensure it meets the requirements for producing high-quality parts.
The joint development agreement between Alcoa and Ford will expand further expand the existing suite of automotive alloys produced by Micromill technology for use on Ford vehicles.