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July 17, 2007

Alcoa Aluminum Helps Preserve Map That Named America

NEW YORK--Alcoa (NYSE:AA) announced today that its aluminum technology and engineering expertise will have a permanent place in America’s history when the 500-year-old Waldseemüller world map goes on display in Washington, D.C. later this year. The first map to use the name “America,” this crown jewel of cartography, which measures more than four feet by eight feet when assembled from its 12 separate sheets, will be secured in a state-of-the-art encasement made from Alcoa’s 6013 Power Plate™ alloy, a high-strength alloy with superior machining characteristics. Alcoa Foundation is supporting the project with a $110,000 grant for constructing the encasement.

Often referred to as America’s “birth certificate,” the map was purchased by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2003 for $10 million from Germany, where the map had been hidden inside of a castle for hundreds of years. Of the 1,000 copies of the wall map printed, this is the only one still in existence. By the end of 2007, the map will go on permanent display in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

The 1507 map, drawn by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, is not only the first map to name “America,” but it is also the first map to depict the Western hemisphere, show the Pacific Ocean as a separate body of water, and the first map to precisely chart latitude and longitude.

“This project highlights aluminum’s many benefits, contributes to arts and cultural development and furthers one of Alcoa Foundation’s strategic Areas of Excellence: business and community sponsorship,” said Meg McDonald, president Alcoa Foundation. “Because of its strong materials emphasis and focus on innovative design, the encasement project is highlighting the versatility and beauty of aluminum as a product of sustainability and strength.”

The Alcoa Foundation grant enabled the Library of Congress to work with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to fabricate the argon-filled, oxygen-free encasement which is machined from a solid piece of aluminum. Central to the encasement design, the concave-shaped aluminum back measures several inches thick at the edge and hollows to one-fourth inch in the center. The design enables the aluminum to flex and helps the glass remain flat, providing a protective barrier against air – the map’s single largest threat. The hermetically sealed encasement will also include valves for flushing out oxygen, which can degrade the map’s paper and ink.

“This project provided Alcoa the opportunity to leverage the unique characteristics of its 6013 Power Plate™ alloy. We suggested using this alloy because its high strength and superior machining characteristics would prove beneficial for the precision machining work needed for this encasement. Reduced machining time makes 6013 Power Plate a more cost effective product. The strength of the product will provide more stability to the encasement over the long term,” said Brian Pendrak, Market Manager, Alcoa Industrial Products. Alcoa’s Davenport (Iowa) Works has shipped 21,000 pounds of the alloy to Bechdon Company in Maryland, a precision machining and fabricating company, which is machining the encasement’s metal.

“We are grateful for Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation support in helping us sustain and preserve this national treasure -- a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The encasement will provide optimum accessibility for the viewing public while preserving and protecting the document,” said Dianne van der Reyden, director of preservation, Library of Congress.

When completed the encasement will be the most environmentally secure enclosure ever made for a document of this size. Although the Library of Congress has much smaller treasures in anoxic encasements, the only other documents incased at this level of security on public display are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world's leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina facilities, and is active in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components including flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, Alcoa also markets Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, structures and building systems. The company has 122,000 employees in 44 countries and has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More information can be found at

About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation is a separately constituted nonprofit U.S. corporate foundation with assets of approximately $534 million. Its mission is to actively invest in the quality of life in Alcoa communities worldwide. Throughout its history, the Foundation has been a source of positive community change and enhancement, with nearly $437 million invested since 1952. In 2006, Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation invested a combined total of $42.3 million in community programs in 32 countries, focusing on four areas of excellence: conservation and sustainability, global education and workplace skills, business and community partnerships, and safe and healthy children and families. For more information, visit, under Community.

NOTE TO EDITORS: There is an umlaut over the "ü" in Waldseemüller. This symbol may not appear properly in some systems.