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WEL-AIR — Result In Brief

Project ID: 502832
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: France

Innovative metal alloy welding for improved airframes

Air travel and cargo transport are vital in connecting people and businesses in an increasingly global marketplace. Innovative design of light-weight metallic airframe components can decrease both manufacturing costs and fuel requirements and thus enhance European competitiveness in aeronautical manufacturing.
Innovative metal alloy welding for improved airframes
The ‘Development of short distance welding concepts for airframes’ (WEL-AIR) project was conceived to develop rivet-free aluminium alloy airframes through the use of advanced welding techniques. Specifically, the researchers focused on applying laser beam welding (LBW) and friction stir welding (FSW) to production of parts using new aluminium alloys with superior welding capability.

The WEL-AIR team investigated the weldability of the alloy candidates and the mechanisms of hot tearing, crack initiation and crack propagation. They developed a new stringer end design employing sensors and LBW resulting in elimination of overlapping at the highest stress concentration points to prevent solidification cracking and crack propagation. They employed FSW on various aluminium alloys and constructed hardness profiles to determine the weld point with lowest hardness.

They also investigated corrosion behaviour of the FSW parts to determine the area most sensitive to corrosion depending on the alloy used. Finally, they characterised damage tolerance and fatigue crack growth for the various welds.

The WEL-AIR project resulted in innovative design and manufacturing concepts for metal alloy airframe components including development of new joint configurations based on LBW and FSW processes. In addition, the researchers contributed to understanding damage tolerance behaviours of short-distance welds. Further research should highlight ways to decrease costs given the superior technical characteristics of the new designs and manufacturing processes.

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