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Friction stir welding of titanium

Back to Pre-1998 Articles Adhesive technology demonstration centre Aged samples lend added credence to safety codes Arc welding Demonstration Centre shows best practice in action Boiler takes the heat in comfort Conductive adhesive for ultrasound catheter cracking-risk-in-steel-pipelines-from-external-hard-zones Engineering critical assessment of pipeline welds Far East fitness-for-purpose check First UK Research Council contract for TWI Friction stir welding of titanium Help with adhesives training Joining demonstration centres in industry Joining Forces success in Belfast Joints take 10 seconds in the microwave LIVEMAN - Advanced joining processes for lightweight vehicle manufacture Making calculations easier 'Mildly sour' environment project saves half a million pounds New standard for weld fracture toughness testing Novel method joins plastic pipes Plastics fume - new findings released Project saves time and money for Amerada Hess Small firms seize no-cost reviews and low-cost trials South East Asia ACFM course Space Shuttle technology transferred to power generation industry Spot the evidence Structural integrity assured for Liverpool Bay Supporting technology on the Indian sub-continent Technology demonstrators show best practice in action Thermomechanical material processing by friction [friction pillar processing] 'Tubestress' measures residual stresses in parts that other equipment cannot reach TWI enhances on-stream inspection service Underwater welding work expands at TWI North Wider recognition for welding inspectors

Connect, no.80, October 1996


Friction stir welding is a remarkable welding process - materials in sheet or plate form can be joined in a butt or lap weld. As with all friction processes, there is no fusion of the pieces being joined.

The process operates by passing a rotating tool between two closely butted plates, which generates heat, and passes the material from the front of the tool to the rear, where it is consolidated to form a high quality solid state weld. Since its invention by TWI in the early 1990s, the process has been well developed for joining aluminium alloys, and is now in commercial use. To date it has been very successful in joining 2xxx, 7xxx and Al-Li alloys, traditionally difficult to join by fusion processes.

Based on machine tool technology, friction stir welding can be fully automated, requires no special power source or welding skill, and uses no filler or shielding gas. There is now a strong demand to develop the process for other materials such as titanium and its alloys, particularly ones which are difficult to fusion weld.

In order to meet this need, TWI is launching a group sponsored project to study this topic in depth, involving several different titanium alloys. Various tool materials and designs will be tested - the major initial challenge with titanium alloys is to find a suitable tool material, as the high operating temperatures will make tools normally used for aluminium ineffective.

The project starts this autumn and will be run by TWI and EWI in partnership, with TWI having overall management responsibility.

For more information, please contact us.

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