Alcoa Designs Weight-Saving, Cost-Effective Fasteners for the F-35


Alcoa aluminum forgings

Alcoa’s Power and Propulsion business division was awarded a 10-year USD$360 million contract to provide aluminum forgings used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. As the key supplier for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, Alcoa provides several key components. Their advanced, patented 7085 alloy aluminum die forgings will be supplied. The forgings include 15 large bulkheads and six wing box parts which serve as the skeletal structure of the wing. The bulkheads are the primary structural support for the wings and engines. They can weigh anywhere from 1,800 to 6,000 pounds and range in size from 10 to 23 feet in length.

Alcoa will also provide high pressure turbine blades for the F-35 JSF engines. The high-performance, nickel-based superalloy blades and vanes enable the engine to operate at temperatures hotter than its own melting point. In addition, Alcoa will provide joining devices, specialty alloy, and structural aluminum castings. The fasteners used are designed to be easily installed in even the hardest to reach areas. Alcoa plans to invest USD$24 million into Alcoa Cleveland Works for new machinery, equipment, and infrastructure improvements which will help meet the demand for the previously mentioned components.

Alcoa began working with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 in 2004. After winning the government bid to produce their X-35 prototype as the F-35, Lockheed realized the aircraft was 10% overweight. When engineers at Lockheed were unable to come up with a way to save the necessary weight materials, the Lockheed engineers approached Alcoa. Alcoa’s revolutionary 7085 forgings had recently been used on the Airbus A380 which had the largest wing spars ever made.

Alcoa believed they could convert the bulkheads which had been designed as a multi-piece assembly of machined 6-inch plates into a single piece. The concept would require incredibly thick metallic sections that had not been previously achieved. Working closely with key suppliers, Alcoa was able to design special tooling ledges that were integrated into the forging design. On average, the Alcoa-designed bulkheads save 300 pounds per aircraft. The result was 15-20% cost savings by reducing time and money spent on machining, reworking and scrapping parts.

Via our proprietary website ASAP Fasteners, ASAP Semiconductor is a leading distributor of Alcoa products. Prospective customers can browse our inclusive catalogue of both obsolete and in-production Alcoa parts at www.asap-fasteners.com. If you are interested in a part, please feel free to contact our knowledgeable sales staff at sales@asap-fasteners.com or 714-705-4780 for a quote.


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