Back to the Basics with Friction Stir Welding
At Bond Technologies, we talk a lot about the incredible benefits of friction stir welding, and always work to advance Friction Stir Weld (FSW) technology. But we also make it a point to pause every so often and return to the basics.
This is for our clients, new and old. At Bond, we consider client education part of our job – because educating our clients on FSW basics is always relevant, and always worthwhile.
Building on that foundation of knowledge will do three things:
- Give you a deeper understanding of the FSW technology you use for your product. This means you can then explain that technology to your own stakeholders, and build a competency within your organization.
- Strengthen your confidence in Bond Technologies, and the role we continue to play in pushing the envelope in FSW technology.
- Help you to consider new options for implementing FSW in ways may not have considered for your company previously.
Past, Present & Future
Friction stir welding is a solid-state process patented in 1991 by The Welding Institute (TWI) of Cambridge, England. (This patent is now expired.) Since its invention, the process continues to generate significant interests in the Research & Development community.
Since its invention, the FSW process has received world-wide attention. Today, FSW is used not just in research, but also in production in many sectors, including aerospace, automotive, railway, shipbuilding, electronic housings, heat exchangers, and nuclear waste containers.
How does FSW work?
FSW is a method for joining metal or metal alloy parts at a joint by using frictional heat generated by a spinning pin tool.
Sometimes described as more of a forging process than actual welding (because the metal is not melted during FSW) – friction stir welding can be used to join metals that aren’t easily fused with traditional welding.
In friction stir welding, a cylindrical pin tool is extended to the joint point between two sheets or plates of metal or metal alloy, which are butted together. To prevent the abutting joint faces from being forced apart, the parts are clamped onto a backing bar. The pin tool then spins at a constant traversal rate, building up friction until the heat and pressure of the tool plasticizes, or softens the metal, bringing it just below melting point. The rotating tool literally stirs the softened metals together, creating a uniform metallic bond, effectively joining two parts into one continuous piece. The entire process allows for minimal distortion of joined parts, and an extremely high weld strength.
Friction stir welding allows aluminum, copper and even tough steel alloys to be permanently joined without arc welding. This operation is done on equipment that resembles standard milling machines.
Although the outcome of FSW is similar to standard fusion welding, the process and machinery are very different. Indeed, FSW is more like a milling process than traditional welding techniques.
For more than a decade, the Bond Technologies team has supplied FSW systems and served customers throughout the world. We offer a full line of Friction Stir Welding machines from compact machines up through large scale multi-axis, multi-spindle systems. Bond designed our line of rigid, high stiffness, versatile machines to meet the needs of most friction stir welding applications.
With over 60 years of combined experience, our professionals design and supply machines and fixtures for small production parts to large systems used in the aerospace, ship building and railcar industries.
Want to learn more, or are you unsure of whether FSW will work for your application? Contact Bond Technologies. We can help you come up with a solution.