May 10, 2006 -- Alcoa’s Howmet Products and Services division is operating a new vacuum furnace at Whitehalll, MI, and the vessel will begin commercial production soon to supply specialty alloys for airfoil manufacturing.
Howmet is one of the leading suppliers of investment-cast parts to manufacturers in the aircraft, aerospace, and defense contractor markets.
“The combination of a booming market for jet-engine components and growing customer demand for aerospace products has driven the need for a new furnace and full manufacturing capacity,” said Michael A. Pepper, vice president and general manager for Howmet Products and Services.
The furnace was designed and built by Alcoa at its Howmet Research Center in Whitehall. With advanced process controls to automate production cycles, and filling 24x26-in. molds, it features a pour-weight of up to 150 lb. Pepper stated it will help the division achieve and sustain high productivity and quality levels, and help it to be more responsive and flexible in supporting customers’ build schedules.
“The new furnace is one part of our capacity-enhancement program, which is successfully increasing our Whitehall, MI, airfoil casting capacity," Pepper stated. "In fact, through the use of furnace additions and the Alcoa Business System, our continuous improvement method, we have expanded the output of this operation by 30% over the past 10 months."