Aluminium is rapidly becoming the metal of choice for ship building worldwide. Friction stir welding (FSW) is used to join aluminium and aluminium alloys, but there are no FSW machines flexible enough for final assembly in a shipyard. The EU-funded MOBI-WELD (Low force mobile friction stir welding system for on-site marine fabrication) project aimed to create a fully mobile prototype FSW device that could be used for ship-building with aluminium alloys. The project started by surveying shipyards and builders to determine what end-users required in a mobile FSW device. From the data collected, MOBI-WELD developed specifications for the welding machine. Researchers tested different welding tools for two different types of aluminium panel. Information from these trials provided the specifications for a welding head. The prototype incorporated several sensors to help automate the process, along with a crawler system with vacuum cups. This system allows the device to travel across the panels as it welds. The prototype device performed well in testing, but it still needs to be thoroughly validated before commercial development can begin. Once that happens, the MOBI-WELD device will be set to revolutionise ship building.
Welding machine, aluminium, ship-building, friction stir welding (FSW), welding tools prototype,