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Development of a low cost processing unit for friction stir welding (LOSTIR)


Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a revolutionary non-fusion technique for joining sheet and plate material The basic form of the process uses a cylindrical (non-consumable) tool, consisting of a flat circular shoulder, with a smaller probe protruding from it s centre. The tool is rotated and plunged into the joint line, between two rigidly clamped plates, so that the shoulder sits on the plate surface and the probe is buried in the work piece. There are significant advantages of FSW over more established arc w elding processes. For example, welds are made below the melting point in the solid phase and as such permit welding of materials that cannot be welded by conventional fusion welding, excellent mechanical properties and low distortion are achieved and an ex tremely porous good quality joint is produced. As such the impact of the process in many industries has been significant and FSW is likely to become the welding process of choice in many existing and new applications. However, take up of FSW has been limi ted to a few industry sectors who have had sufficient capital to invest in the high facility and technology costs. Purpose built FSW machines can be very expensive, of the order of 300,000 Euros, making it difficult for many product manufacturers to justif y the implementation of the technology. An alternative approach is to adapt milling machines, which have been known to produce promising results in the past, and allow a low cost introductory level to FSW. However there is uncertainty regarding the quality of the joint produced as there is little scientific correlation between the milling machine parameters (torque, downward force, feed rates) and the quality of the joint (defects, heat affected zone, residual stresses, distortions). LOSTIR will develop a l ow cost FSW system, using advanced modelling techniques, that will be used in conjunction with milling machines, to create high quality Friction Stir Welded joints.

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3 Mercury House, Cavella Park
United Kingdom

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