TWI undertook development of the welding process and selected a new welding technique called floating bobbin FSW.
This technique eliminates potential kissing bonds, uses much lower forge forces, requires no backing bar and is very simple to control. Within this project it was shown possible to make welds to ISO 25239 standard, with gaps in the joint between the components to be welded up to 5% of the component thickness. The process was also capable of welding components which varied in thickness up to 0.3mm.
The crawler was designed and built by VTT (Finland) and most of the mechanical parts were manufactured in-house. The control system was also developed by VTT, synchronising the crawler motion and seam tracker and providing continuous motion to the tool and aligning it to the joint. The device attaches itself to the aluminum plates using vacuum cups and moves along the plates following the joint line to produce the weld.
It is believed to be the first machine in the world of its type and represents a major breakthrough in its field.
For further information about the project, please visit the project website at https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/315238 or email email@example.com