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MFE Formwork, based in Malaysia, adopted Friction Stir Welding (FSW) to boost orders of aluminium formwork for concrete, allowing the company to increase its production rate by 50 per cent.
MFE worked closely with TWI when adopting FSW in 2011, and got in touch again when it decided to move its formwork manufacturing over entirely to FSW. TWI put together a three-stage work programme in 2016, comprising a procedure development study at TWI UK, on-site training in Malaysia, and machine testing and commissioning in Taiwan.
With the panels in 24-hour production, MFE worked with TWI to identify optimal welding conditions for a high welding speed. The TWI team travelled to MFE’s head office in Malaysia, en-route to Taiwan, to train staff and test the existing FSW production line.
Thirteen staff completed the one-day TWI Foundation Award in Friction Stir Welding (delivered in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language). TWI specialists also reviewed the existing FSW formwork production (ensuring it was meeting welding specifications), conducted welding trials using the newly qualified welding staff, and assessed welds using visual inspection and mechanical testing.
To support the extra FSW work, MFE commissioned a new prototype FSW machine from their Taiwanese manufacturer. TWI assessed the system’s capabilities with on-site factory acceptance tests in Taiwan on behalf of MFE, and tested the formwork welds to match the standards required by MFE.
The prototype machine was found to produce even less distortion than the original test demonstrators, as the larger machine bed of the new machine was more effective at dissipating heat. MFE have now ordered seven of the machines to increase the production rate of the existing FSW production line.
By assisting MFE Formworks with every aspect of FSW implementation, TWI was able to ensure the Member will remain competitive by efficiently producing reliable products, and continue the growth of its business.
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