Alcoa has introduced a new series of foundry alloys designed for lightweight, high-performance applications in automotive markets, but in other applications too, including aerospace, industrial products, and medical devices. The aluminum producer said the four new alloys have been tested extensively by automakers and their suppliers, and outperformed “customers’ expectations on strength, thermal performance and corrosion resistance.” Specifically, Alcoa stated the new alloys – SupraCast™, EZCast™, VersaCast™, and EverCast™ – “are stronger, lighter weight, and offer at least 20% better fatigue resistance,” than currently available casting alloys they would replace.
Wisconsin aluminum foundry Eck Industries selected the VersaCast product to manufacture castings for a customer n the motorsports industry, and it is working with Michigan-based technology development company REL Inc. to develop a conformable compressed natural gas (CNG) tank that fits under the vehicle frame, rather than taking up cargo space.
Recently, Eck Industries also completed test castings of engine cylinder heads in SupraCast. The resulting products met the customer’s requirements for force, power and speed, resulting in an order for cast heads in the new alloy.
SupraCast and EZCast have been successfully produced and sold in North America, and VersaCast and EverCast are undergoing qualification testing by customers. EZCast, SupraCast and VersaCast are commercially available in Europe.
“These foundry alloys from Alcoa open the door to a whole new world of high-performance, lightweight solutions for our customers,” stated Eck Industries’ sales engineer Andrew Halonen. “The alloys not only perform better than existing materials, they are easy to cast, even for highly complex parts, and that adds value throughout the supply chain,” he added.
Pitching the new alloys to automotive market represents a shift in Alcoa’s recent strategy, which has emphasized products, technologies, and capabilities for aerospace markets. This has included two large capital investment programs for Alcoa’s investment casting foundries, to produce higher volumes of aerospace castings, as well as acquisitions of Firth Rixson Ltd., Tital, and RTI International Metals.
“Our expert metallurgists combined with our deep understanding of the automotive industry allow us to anticipate and meet customer needs quickly and effectively,” stated Tim Reyes, president of Alcoa Casting. “With this portfolio of patented alloys, we are enabling OEMs and foundries to tailor their parts to meet specific performance objectives—with material that weighs less and performs better than what is currently being used,” he added.