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TWI Yorkshire on the Advanced Manufacturing Park

Connect, no. 145, November - December 2006, p.2

TWI's new RoboStir TM friction stir welding machine
TWI's new RoboStir TM friction stir welding machine

Now well established on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Waverley, between Rotherham and Sheffield, TWI Technology Centre (Yorkshire) is one of the most recent stages in TWI's global expansion.

The £2m development not only gives the company a presence in the Yorkshire region, but has led to the acquisition of state-of-the-art technology, to complement the facilities at TWI's head office in Cambridge.

The laser direct metal deposition (DMD) system is attracting interest from a number of Members from a range of industry sectors, including aerospace and medical.

The main attraction is the scope to repair high value components and parts made from exotic alloys. This offers potentially significant cost savings over part replacement.

In addition, net shape part deposition is also being carried out using a wide variety of materials including titanium, nickel alloys, and steels.

Ytterbium fibre laser technology is being evaluated for welding and cutting of a variety of metals, including aluminium alloys, stainless steels and titanium alloys. This has applications in oil and gas and power generation.

Some of the shapes reproducible using the laser DMD process
Some of the shapes reproducible using the laser DMD process

The fibre laser has also been combined with MIG welding equipment to investigate hybrid laser-arc welding.

RoboStir TM is the latest addition to TWI's friction stir welding portfolio. With capabilities in three dimensional welding and friction stir spot welding, RoboStir is already attracting interest.

Having already broken the record for the thickest friction stir weld made in a single pass, in 150mm thick aluminium, the Powerstir machine is driving forward the boundaries once again. Since installation at Waverley the machine, with its opposed head configuration, has been commissioned, and trials are under way to develop procedures for simultaneous double sided welding.

The precision friction stir welding machine continues TWI's work on the development of tool materials and welding procedures for use with higher softening temperature metals, with considerable success. Various ceramic and refractory metal tools have been investigated and procedures for welding steels, stainless steels and titanium alloys have been developed.

Commenting on TWI's expanding facilities, Dr Robert Scudamore, Manager of TWI Yorkshire, said: 'From the moment TWI's senior management became aware of the Advanced Manufacturing Park concept they knew it was something with which they wanted to be involved. From that moment on, we have invested in high tech equipment, brought in knowledgeable and experienced people and developed the Technology Centre into somewhere that leads the way in technology, whilst complementing the knowledge and technologies located at TWI's other sites.

'The presence of TWI in the Yorkshire region offers a double benefit to TWI Members. Firstly, the range of new equipment housed at the Yorkshire Centre can be utilised on projects for Members across the globe. And secondly, the Centre is a portal for local Members to gain access to the full range of TWI services.'

Iain Smith, TWI Yorkshire's Business Manager, added: 'The opportunities for working closely with the other companies in the Advanced Engineering and Materials cluster, particularly those located on the AMP, have the potential to be extremely fulfilling for all involved. I would urge organisations with even the slightest interest in the activities of the cluster to consider seriously greater involvement with the AMP.'

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