The Braidy rolling mill will attempt to become a low-cost producer of high quality auto body sheet aluminum, plate and ultra-high strength alloys for the aerospace industry. The mill will open with capacity of 370,000 tons a year, producing series 5000, 6000, and 7000 aluminum sheet and plate products.
Braidy is also exploring nano-crystalline technological advances in order to improve molten metal-based manufacturing.
Groundbreaking at the 370-acre site in Greenup County, Kentucky, close to the city of Ashland, will take place during first-quarter 2018. Over $1.3 billion will be spent on the mill, slated at 2.5 million square feet under roof. The site on the Ohio River has permitted barge capacity. The CSX railroad runs through the property, and highway I-64 connects the mill to automotive and aerospace customers.
Braidy Industries Chairman and CEO Craig Bouchard described the timing of the new mill project “as an historic moment. The best time in the past 50 years to invest in American infrastructure and advanced manufacturing is right now.”
Serving on Braidy’s board of directors are Dr. Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, an expert on competitive advantage; Dr. Chris Schuh, a metallurgist and head of Materials Science at MIT; John Preston, also formerly of MIT; and Charles Price.
Separately, the company expects to soon announce an acquisition that will solidify its goal of performing advanced manufacturing of ultra-high strength and lightweight parts for the interiors of cars and airplanes, and for defense applications. Braidy intends to develop the science of applying nano-crystalline technologies to the rapid implementation of high-strength and lightweight alloys.
“By combining an advanced production capability with advanced metallurgical science, there is a great opportunity to reinvigorate metals manufacturing in United States,” said Schuh.
“A large-scale greenfield investment in aluminum and other materials will create a substantial competitive advantage,” Bouchard said. Braidy will optimize logistics on water, rail and highway; employ a non-union workforce; have very low plant maintenance costs; a favorable electricity contract; and the latest equipment and work process flow. “The cost advantages are stunning,” he said.
Braidy will partner with the Kentucky Community and Technical College system to enhance and develop specialized associates degrees in material sciences and advanced manufacturing, which will be used to train its workforce on an evergreen basis while developing a pipeline of human talent for its mill and future manufacturing businesses in Greenup and surrounding counties.
Completion of the mill is expected in 2020.