Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have launched a cooperative effort to develop an aluminum solution to a grave threat to soldier safety: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The solution, a single-piece aluminum hull for ground combat vehicles, would replace today’s assembled hulls and deliver even greater strength and durability. In addition to safety benefits, the single-piece hull would reduce vehicle weight and assembly time, and, therefore, overall cost.

“For decades, the Army has recognized the survivability benefits of a single-piece hull due to its thickness, size and shape for ground combat vehicles,” said Dr. Ernest Chin of the Army Research Laboratory. “Our collaborative effort to develop continuous and seamless aluminum hull technology has the potential to be a game changer for how combat vehicles are designed and made to better protect our soldiers.”

Alcoa’s single-piece aluminum hull would improve combat vehicle performance through:

  • Improved blast protection: A single-piece hull would eliminate welded seams used in today’s manufacturing processes, which is expected to significantly improve protection. The single-piece hull would cover the entire lower section of any combat vehicle.
  • Increased damage resistance: The use of more blast-absorbent Alcoa alloys is expected to further increase damage resistance.
  • Efficient design: Forging hulls as one unit would facilitate three-dimensional shaping, allowing Alcoa to tailor the thickness where needed to maximize protection and allow for weight savings.
  • Cost savings: The structure is expected to reduce costs over the life of the vehicle by increasing fuel efficiency through lightweighting and eliminating assembly time and complexity.

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