A radical change in process technology costing a mere £2000 has saved the General Dynamics Corporation in the United States nearly $8M.
The company's Convair Division in San Diego were experiencing serious difficulties in welding small parts for a space vehicle. The components were used in the measurement of fuel on board the Atlas space booster which carries the satellites into space.
Previously the welds were made by electron beam welding, a process in which General Dynamics has considerable experience. But this resulted in a high rejection rate, and unacceptable scrap of expensive aluminium alloy parts.
At this point General Dynamics called TWI, where after discussion a total change of approach to the manufacturing process was advocated. Welding trials started at Abington immediately. They showed that the material combination could be welded satisfactorily by friction welding.
Within 90 days of the first call it was demonstrated to General Dynamics that using this process it was possible, not only to reduce the scrap rate to nearly zero, but also to redesign the component so that it could be produced more economically.
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