This project forms an initial investigation into the welding of high strength aluminium a]loys for applications in the automotive and aerospace industries. The study concerns the development and implementation of plasma welding to establish positive control over the weld thermal cycle. Plasma offers considerable flexibility in terms of thermal distribution at the workpiece surface, coupled with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. Using modelling and control techniques developed in earlier BRITE programmes, it is anticipated that alloys (such as aluminium lithium alloys) normally considered to be 'difficult' to weld will be weldable on a repeatable and reliable basis.
Important relationships between operating parameters, process characteristics and mechanical properties will be sought, and statistical models, based on data gathered using through arc sensing techniques will be used to optimise process performance. Responsive control algorithms will be developed to minimise loss of mechanical strength and crack susceptibility whilst producing sound welds