NEW YORK Alcoa Inc. expects to benefit from the increased use of composite materials in the aerospace sector due to the companys strong position in fastening systems and propulsion technology, according to executive vice president and chief financial officer William F. Oplinger.
"(We) actually benefit from higher revenues on the non-aluminum planes because of our positioning on fastening systems and power and propulsion," Oplinger said at Bank of America Merrill Lynchs annual Global Metals, Mining and Steel Conference in Miami. "So it is not a bad thing for Alcoa that the planes are multi-material. In fact, it gives us opportunities for fastening solutions that we havent had before."
Alcoas fastening systems unitwhich accounts for 30 percent of its aerospace revenueis comprised of systems that range from high-temperature, high-strength fasteners for airframe and engine applications to latches, installation tool systems and machine components, such as hydraulic fittings.
Planes featuring carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body structuresincluding Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS A350 XWB, which features 105-foot wings made almost exclusively from CFRPprovide significant revenue for Alcoa, largely due to the companys materials diversification within the sector, Oplinger said.
Sixty percent of Alcoas Engineered Products & Solutions business revenue is non-aluminum, Oplinger said, adding that the companys fastening systems were mostly comprised of titanium, steel and nickel alloys.
Turning to the automotive sector, Oplinger said that Pittsburgh-based Alcoa anticipates explosive aluminum demand over the next decade. "Body-in-white is the next transition for automotive and it will drive significant growth in aluminum usage over the next 10 to 12 years," he said. "Were showing a 60-percent increase in the intensity of aluminum usage in cars between now and 2025 due to the body-in-white transition thats going on."
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co.s move to an aluminum body for the F-150 pickup truckwhich typically has sales in excess of 750,000 vehicles per yearhas created a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for the aluminum industry, Oplinger said, noting that the company plans to invest $300 million at its plant in Alcoa, Tenn., to meet spiking automotive demand. Thats up from an initially planned investment of $275 million (amm.com, May 2, 2013).