The U.S. Navy has awarded a $2.1 million contract to Alcoa Inc. "to develop advanced welding techniques designed to reduce manufacturing costs on aluminum-intensive ships," Alcoa announced Wednesday.
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa -- the 50th-largest manufacturer in the United States, according to the IW 500 -- said it "will adapt high-deposition gas metal arc welding technology to marine structures, enabling the Navy to reduce the cost of shipbuilding" by as much as $200 million.
"Alcoa's materials knowledge and technical expertise provide a critical advantage to the Navy, allowing shipbuilders to streamline manufacturing and build a better ship at a lower cost," said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa executive vice president and chief technology officer.
In the past 12 months, Alcoa has received $8 million in new R&D contracts to help the nation's military become lighter, faster, stronger and more efficient, according to the company.
"We see a growing opportunity in all the services to use Alcoa's technical expertise to help the United States stay on the cutting edge of military science through advanced materials, designs and manufacturing techniques," Kilmer said.
High-deposition gas metal arc welding is a semi-automated welding process that reduces weld passes, thus reducing labor costs and improving weld quality.
The process will be applied to the Navy's Littoral combat ship, and could be transferred to the Navy's joint high-speed vessel and other aluminum-intensive ships, Alcoa noted.
"With tightening government budgets and growing demands, this kind of project plays an important role in helping our service men and women meet their mission requirements," said Daniel Cruise, Alcoa vice president, public and government affairs.
"Alcoa's Government Affairs, Alcoa Technical Center and Alcoa Defense teams are working together to make sure key leaders in government understand Alcoa's advantage in research and our manufacturing expertise."