With the buzz around the growing use of exotic new composite materials in aircraft design, it’s easy to forget that innovation is proceeding just as rapidly for metal parts.
New alloys - or, at least, alloys new to aerospace applications - are continually improving metal components’ heat tolerance, weight and strength.
At the forefront of of the metals revolution has been titanium aluminide (TiAl), which boasts similar heat resistance to nickel alloy but at only half the weight.
Now the fruitful bond between titanium and aluminium has been recognised beyond molecular level with the launch of an aerospace joint venture between Alcoa Samara and VSMPO-AVISMA.
The former is Russia’s largest producer of forged aluminium products, while VSMPO-AVISMA is the world leader in titanium production.
Their joint venture, AlTi Forge, will manufacture large titanium and aluminium alloy parts for aircraft, such as landing gear beams and wing pylons.
“We are growing Alcoa’s range of multi-material offerings to enhance the competitiveness of our aerospace business and position it for continued profitable growth,” says Maxim Smirnov, president of Alcoa Russia.
With Russian commercial aircraft programmes either struggling or in embryonic stage, the partners will seek to build on their strong relationships with Boeing, Airbus and other Western aerospace manufacturers.
Thankfully for both, those relationships are highly valued by all parties. VSMPO’s titanium, for instance, continued to be shipped to the US and EU even at the height of last year’s sanctions.