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Efficient manufacturing of advanced titanium aerospace components

TWI is working with an industrial consortium on the application of linear friction welding (LFW) for the efficient manufacture of aerospace components. Rising material costs and the growing use of difficult-to-machine materials are spurring on designers to explore alternative, cheaper production methods.

Near-net-shape forming technologies, which build parts instead of machining them from solid billets, can offer a range of benefits. The TiFab project aims to show how LFW can be used to boost production of aerospace-quality near-net-shape titanium alloy components for the airframe sector.

Save, save, save

TWI has identified a cost-effective manufacturing route for titanium parts, with high material utilisation and significantly reduced titanium waste. Engagement with its Industrial Members has allowed TWI to secure the participation of a major US OEM, to identify candidate parts and assess their suitability for production using the LFW process. More than 150 aircraft components containing hundreds of welds have been assessed so far – the majority have delivered raw material savings of 60–80%. Moving to LFW could save over 185 tonnes of titanium alloys per year, a potential $7.9 million reduction in annual raw material costs. This would also deliver energy savings of 48,100,000kWh – enough to power 15,000 homes for a year – and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 22,000,000kg per year.

Production rate: 
24,000 parts/year for 10 years
CNC part TiFab LFW 
Material cost £97.6m £12.6m
Production cost £22.5 £9.7
Post-weld treatment cost 0 £1.1m
Total cost £120.1m £23.4
Cost per year £12.0m £2.34
Total estimated cost per part £500 £97.5
Prototype part produced by LFW: fully machined, part welded and as welded
Prototype part produced by LFW: fully machined, part welded and as welded

Efficient manufacturing

The project also involved studies of all of the process operations in the value stream. Creating a map of the production operations and the interdependences of the various operations enabled a picture of what a facility for producing tailored blank aircraft components might look like.

By applying latest knowledge from the fields of digital manufacturing and systems engineering, the TiFab project has been able to provide a system concept which is capable of achieving business case metrics in a safe and controlled manner. This state-of-the-art, fully automated LFW production system concept is based on the application of Industry 4.0 philosophy, and full digital integration both on the shop floor and throughout the supply chain. It uses event-based simulation modelling to achieve both low- and high-volume production of a candidate part based on generic assumptions.

To find out more about this project please email

LFW system architecture
LFW system architecture
Avatar Kathryn Beamish Consultant – Friction and Forge Processes

For more information please email: