The MobiWeld project will develop a prototype, mobile Friction Stir Welding (FSW) system, which will be designed and constructed for use in final fabrication/assembly in a shipyard environment.
It will deliver the following benefits:
• Offer a superior method of fabricating aluminium ship panelling – reducing fabrication costs of ships and ship components by €500k for a 2,000 tonne cruise liner
• Develop a new, IP protectable, automated welding system to be supplied to the market by the SMEs in the consortium – with potential for sales of €75m to benefit European SMEs
• Improve the productivity of the European ship building and fabrication market to enable improved competitiveness against low-labour rate competitors
• Accelerate the adoption of aluminium vessels (through lowing the cost of manufacture), which enable significant improvements, lower running costs (lower fuel consumption) and lower CO2 emissions
A new FSW technique uses a novel FSW tool called a “floating-bobbin” which allows welds to be made with almost zero, vertical force on the plates, to be welded by a FSW machine. This subsequently requires much lower forces to make a weld and therefore the associated FSW machine can be made much smaller, less expensive, and critically mobile - thereby allowing this technology to be more widely used for in-situ fabrication in shipyards.
The international competitiveness of the European shipbuilding industry is of increasing concern, while current world-leaders, the far-east (especially Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan) and the US are rapidly improving the quality and performance of their vessels – primarily through the adoption of aluminium in ships. European SMEs involved in the industry need to optimise their production methods very quickly to stay competitive with shipyards all around the world.
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