Alcoa Howmet launched a $25-million expansion of its Hampton, VA, investment casting foundry to produce a new range of aerospace parts, adding another manufacturing line and modifying some current equipment to cast airfoil blades for jet engines. The project also signifies a product line expansion of sorts: presently, the Hampton foundry produces airfoils for industrial gas turbines and large structural castings, in nickel and titanium alloys.

In addition to new and modified production equipment, Alcoa noted the expansion would include robotics and digital X-ray capability for enhanced product inspection.

The Virginia project also may be seen as a complement to the $100-million expansion announced in May for the investment-casting foundry at LaPorte, IN. There, Alcoa Howmet (the investment casting subsidiary of Alcoa Inc.) will be producing larger castings for jet engine parts other than blades, including turbine stators and vanes, and turbine cases, among others.

“We are deploying a state-of-the-art technology that will significantly improve the performance of some of the best-selling jet engines in the world,” stated Alcoa chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld at the Virginia project announcement. “This technology and investment further demonstrate how Alcoa is executing on our strategy to aggressively capture demand in the fast-growing aerospace market.”

The expansion will begin this month for completion late in 2015. Alcoa said it would receive approximately $2 million in state and local incentives for the Hampton expansion, and an additional $1.3-million exemption on sales and use tax.

At least 75 new employees will be added over three years as a result of the new capacity, Alcoa indicated. Currently, the Hampton plant has 650 employees.