Over 140 delegates descended on the Rockwell Science Center to attend the world's first symposium devoted exclusively to Friction Stir Welding (FSW). Delegates to the event, organised by TWI with the support of Rockwell and backed by licensees worldwide, heard over 30 presentations from commercial users and researchers drawn from Europe, Japan, Scandinavia, UK and USA. FSW has revolutionised the welding of aluminium alloys and achieved a high level of commercial maturity for such materials. Delegates were told that some 100 miles (160km) of production butt welding has been done in Scandinavia by one company alone.
Doug Waldron of Boeing described his company's $15million investment in the use of FSW to weld the booster core tanks for the Delta range of space launch vehicles. This was the first production FSW in the USA and to date 10 tanks have been made - all defect free. The astonishing reproducibility of FSW was echoed by other speakers.
Presentations provided information on the extensive worldwide activity on welding by friction stir of the higher softening temperature materials such as steel. There seems little doubt that commercial FSW of steels and similar materials will be accomplished.
Inspired by the success of the symposium, TWI and the Friction Stir Welding Association plan to hold a similar event in Japan in 2000 and in Europe in 2001.
Further information can be obtained from Diana Fairmaner.
The proceedings are available on CD-ROM containing over 30 original papers covering process improvements, applications, mechanical properties modelling, microstructure development and much more.
The CD costs £150 (+ VAT where applicable) and is available from Diana Fairmaner at TWI.