The partners say the new alloys will improve efficiency and design.
Ford will use Alcoa’s Micromill material in multiple components on the 2016 F-150 — becoming the first automaker to use the advanced automotive aluminum commercially. The companies entered into a joint development agreement to collaborate on next-generation aluminum alloys for automotive parts using Micromill technology.
Alcoa says its Micromill technology produces an aluminum alloy that is 40 percent more formable than today’s automotive aluminum. The increased formability of Micromill aluminum makes it easier to shape into intricate forms, such as 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.
Micromill is the fastest, most productive aluminum casting and rolling system in the world combining multiple technologies into a streamlined production system, according to Alcoa. A traditional rolling mill takes around 20 days to turn molten metal into coil; Micromill does it in just 20 minutes.
Ford will begin 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 on a range of vehicle components and future platforms. Ford projects its use of Micromill material on its vehicles will more than double from 2016 to 2017.
Earlier this month Alcoa announced it is expanding its light metals research and development center in Pennsylvania to meet increasing demand for complex, high-performance 3D-printed parts for aerospace and other high-growth markets such as automotive, medical and building and construction.