Abundant, endlessly recyclable, and reusable, aluminium is key to tomorrow’s lighter, faster, and more sustainable economy. By alloying aluminium with other elements, we can enhance its distinctive property balance and expand upon its range of applications. In addition to new alloys, we are also investigating new manufacturing techniques to provide complete solutions that are both efficient and efficiently industrialized.
Constellium has a long track-record of developing targeted, improved performance alloys for a variety of demanding markets. Each of Constellium’s major markets requires a different set of properties from their materials. The automotive industry’s needs are dominated by strength, formability, and crash resistance, whereas aerospace applications principally require damage tolerance, specific stiffness, and strength. The packaging industry requires very high formability and food compatibility whereas the defense market’s needs are dominated by ballistic properties.
Through a detailed understanding of the implications of these requirements, Constellium is able to focus its alloy development efforts on the right property balances.
Key to achieving new alloys is continuous progress on understanding of the fundamental relationships between properties, microstructures and processes. This understanding is both developed through and translated into modelling capability, from the atomistic level through phase diagram modelling to targeted process-property models. These models are used to target lab-scale and then industrial-scale prototyping trials prior to qualifying the resulting products with our customers.
Examples of recent successful new alloy developments include our Airware® products for the aerospace market, Securalex® and Constellium HSA6™ for automotive applications, and Keikor® for defense applications.
In addition to new alloys, Constellium has developed a full range of engineered solutions to help businesses be more efficient. Thanks to the knowledge we have acquired on material properties, manufacturing processes and of the design principles pertaining to our markets, we are able to go beyond the product and contribute actively in the development of co-optimized new solutions with our customers.
Our R&D projects have two major axis: we can help optimize the application of downstream technologies to aluminium alloys, or develop our products’ aptitude to downstream processing.
Surface Treatment is one example of how we can help our customers develop and prepare industrial implementation of a new surface treatment and coating solution. Thanks to instrumentation and equipment at the Constellium Technology Center, we select, test and master processes for improved materials performance (surface aspect and hardness) in light of client applications.
We have also developed expertise in Joining of aluminium alloys. Constellium was a pioneer in Friction Stir Welding (FSW), an advanced welding technique that uses friction to generate heat and join two aluminium alloy parts without melting the material. FSW avoids common flaws that can result from fusion welding, such as porosity and cracking during solidification. This ability to create larger parts without losing any of the material properties is perfectly adapted to aerospace structures.
Constellium’s latest efforts to push the technical frontiers of its solutions have resulted in the development of the Dokima® solution. Dokima® Endurance results from the combination and synergy of the Dokima® alloy with our proprietary anodizing solution. By accompanying our customers in the anodization process, Constellium can provide a much greater anodic coating resistance, leading to a superior part durability and higher processes efficiency.
Constellium has also developed a dedicated range of aluminium solutions to address the needs of the molding industry. The high machinability of our solutions accelerates mold production time and drives mold manufacturing costs down. In addition, the high thermal conductivity and diffusivity offered by our aluminium solutions will boost the plastic part manufacturing rate compared to non-aluminium molds.