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Powder Plasma Arc Welding of Aluminium Alloys

Objective



In the bicycle, furniture and automotive industry the interest is centred on the use of aluminium tubes for frames. The advantage of aluminium alloys is the light weight, compared to steel tubes. However, the joining of aluminium is much more difficult than steel. The reason is the high melting, tenacious oxide layer, formed immediately on aluminium, when it is subjected to air. Brazing of aluminium is very difficult and for welding only Gas Tungsten Arc (GTA) and Gas Metal Arc (GMA-welding can be applied in production. GTAW gives the highest quality and is widely used in bicycle and furniture industry, but the process can not be easily mechanised or robotised for the thin walled tubes to be joined. So hand welding is the alternative and due to the low wages in Asia most of the bicycle frames are manufactured there. The PPAW-process has shown on steel welding, where direct current (dc) is used, to be capable of hand, mechanised and robotic welding with a quality surpassing that of GTAW. It is thought, that the same will be true for the welding of aluminium. The PPAW process, however, is so new, that the special problems for aluminium welding, e.g. welding with alternating current (a.c.) current, supply of filler material and coping with potential weld defects like porosity and hot cracking are not at all solved, yet. The aim of the project is to make PPAW suited for a.c-welding and to develop the welding procedures to join sheet, thin walled tubes, formed sheet or small diameter rods of aluminium alloys. The expected achievements for the end users (4 SME's, 1 other) are: 1. improvement of the productivity by at least 25%,2. Iower processing costs by saving of weld metal 50% and a lower energy consumption of 10%, 3 improved product quality (good appearance) and 4. lower post finishing (grinding) by at least 90%. For these five end users, the total benefits amounts to 2.25 MECU per year by the introduction of this new technology in their production lines. This is based on 15% reduction in production costs. The expected achievement for the PPAW machine suppliers and robot suppliers (2 SME's, 1 other proposer) is to supply a.c.-machine for aluminium welding which can be used by other industries such as automotive, household articles and furniture. For the machine/robot suppliers, the total benefits amounts to 74 MECU per year. For the users of this technique in different industries, the ttal savings are estimated as 50 MECU per year. The consortium consist of - Suppliers of welding machines: Plasma Modules and Lappe + Marksmann, - Robot supplier: Cloos, - End users: Flevobike, Steco, Bakker, Handicare and ARC( on behalf of Hydro). - Material suppliers: SAPA and ALPOCO and - the RTD performers: TNO and SINTEF. The listed objectives of the proposed project directly refer to the priority areas: of the Brite/Euram III programme; 1 . 1. 1 .S ( adaptation and application of new technologies), 1.1.3.S (development of new production processes for automation), 2.1.1.S ( manufacturing at reduced costs for increased functionality of existing engineering materials and high added-value products).

Funding Scheme

CRS - Cooperative research contracts

Coordinator

Plasma Modules Oy
Address
3,Kuntiiläkuva
00740 Helsinki
Finland

Participants (11)

Cloos-Ned B.V.
Netherlands
Address
11,Marconistraat
4000 HC Tiel
FOUNDATION FOR TECHNICAL AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH AT THE NORWEGIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Norway
Address
2B,richard Birkelands Vei 2B
7034 Trondheim
Flevobike VOF
Netherlands
Address
55,De Monnel
8251 HT Dronten
Handicare ASA
Norway
Address
19,Smestadsveien
2600 Lillehammer
Hydro Raufoss Automotive Research Centre
Norway
Address

2831 Raufoss
Lappe + Marksmann GmbH
Germany
Address
5,Ehlbeek
30938 Grossburgwedel
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek
Netherlands
Address
501,Laan Van Westenenk 501
7300 AM Apeldoorn
Nico Bakker Framebouw BV
Netherlands
Address
1,Donkereweg
1704 DV Heerhugowaard
SAPA Aluminium B.V.
Netherlands
Address
9,Nijverheidsweg
9600 AC Hoogezand
STECO Metaalwarenfabriek B.V.
Netherlands
Address
34,Wolweg
3776 LP Stroe
The Aluminium Powder Co Ltd
United Kingdom
Address
Forge Lane,minworth,sutton Colfield
B76 1AF Birmingham