Tuesday, July 23, 2013

News: TWI helps shipbuilding industry move towards friction stir welding revolution

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Key representatives from the European shipbuilding sector visited Rotherham recently to learn about the ground-breaking progress in developing the friction stir welding (FSW) technique for steel.

The Welding Institute (TWI) is one of the world's foremost independent research and technology organisations and the Cambridge organisation has a Technology Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham where experts provide technical support in joining and technologies such as material science, structural integrity, NDT, surfacing, electronic packaging and cutting.

Friction stir welding is a solid state welding process where no material exceeds it's melting point and was initially invented by TWI for welding aluminium. It has quickly become the process of choice for world-leading manufacturers such as Boeing, for the fabrication of strong, stiff, lightweight aluminium structures.

Through its involvement in the European research project, Project HILDA (High Integrity Low Distortion Assembly) the company is making further progress in developing the welding technique from the "softer" metals and using it for welding steel, bringing with it the technical and economic benefits of reduced distortion, enhanced weld strength and fatigue resistance, and making manufacturing safer and more environmentally friendly.

Up to 40% of the costs of building a ship are associated with correcting distortion of welded plates and so this new technique has the potential to introduce considerable cost savings during manufacture.

As part of the recent industry day project partners demonstrated a two metre-long friction stir weld in a six millimetre thick DH36 shipbuilding steel, a high tensile strength steel. Recent research carried out at the University of Strathclyde, one of the project partners, demonstrated the technical viability of friction stir welded shipbuilding steel components as the desired mechanical properties were attained with lower material distortion when compared to more traditional submerged arc welds.

TWI website

Images: TWI

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