A huge international contract to exploit an invention by TWI has just been signed in the House of Commons (the lower house of the UK Parliament).
It is called EuroStir TM and is worth nearly seven million Euros. There are twelve main collaborators from six European nations and it is destined to last five years.
The project's focus is the industrial exploitation of friction stir welding. In other words, getting the process out of the laboratory and adopted by industry. Friction stir welding was invented by TWI in 1991 and has been the subject of extensive development and commercial adoption ever since.
To do this, a group of companies and research institutes has teamed up to carry out feasibility studies on full size industrial prototypes.
The project is part of the Eureka scheme and will be supported by the national governments of all the countries involved, namely the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland and Sweden.
They are using state-of-the-art, commercially available friction stir welding machines, one of which is presently being manufactured by ESAB.
The ESAB-built machine is scheduled for installation at TWI this spring and will be capable of welding workpieces eight metres by five metres in a variety of ferrous and non-ferrous materials.
Once commissioned it is expected to be able to weld thicknesses between 1.5mm and 18mm in the combined x and y directions (non-linear) and up to 25 millimetres in a straight line.
Anne Campbell (the UK Member of Parliament for Cambridge) stated 'We shall all benefit from this project. Good commercial exploitation of friction stir welding will feed manufacturing industry and help to maintain the prosperity of the UK as well as other European countries'.
'The automotive and aerospace industries are already making full use of friction stir welding. The shipbuilding industry and makers of manned spacecraft are certainly future users of the process. This is a good example of the sort of co-operation that is so desperately needed here. It's what we need to do in Europe if we are to stay ahead of the rest of the world.'
If you are interested in joining the project group and taking advantage of cutting edge developments in FSW, contact Stephan Kallee. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org