Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

Friction stir welding and Japanese jewellery

Back to Media and Events 2013-07-creepimage-inspecting-creep-damage-in-critical-power-plant-components 2016-09-cutting-edge-technology-for-nuclear-decommissioning A career in welding inspection Additive manufactured medical implants to enter mainstream Additive Manufacturing UK Strategy update available for download Advanced electron beam facilities meet advanced industrial challenges Advanced ultrasonic full matrix capture inspection software launched Armourers & Brasiers' awards open for entries Art exhibition leads to new method of laser metal deposition Asbestos detection made easier and more reliable ASME issues White Paper on auditing of welding Audit shows TWI as integral to innovation Aviation Industry Corporation of China collaborates with TWI BeamAssure™ – electron beam welding quality assurance tool Best practice for nuclear construction industry welding BS 7910:2013 - Assessing flaws in metallic structures Call for papers: 12th International FSW Symposium CII and TWI awareness seminar in composites technology Coatings and surface engineering: addressing the needs of industry Combatting ice and erosion in extreme low temperatures - EIROS Combining Cathodic Protection with Aluminium Coatings CROWN project commended for offshore wind corrosion work Depositing silicon carbide coatings by thermal spraying Digital Twin Technology to monitor offshore assets Digital twin technology wins environmental business award Dr Melissa Riley presents paper at international conference Dr Melissa Riley represents TWI at international conference eLearning package for CSWIP 3.1 Welding Inspector launched Entry is now open for SkillWeld 2016 Extending Aircraft Life Using Cold Spray Technology Fibre delivered laser beam cutting optimisation Friction stir welding – joining the future of industry Friction stir welding and Japanese jewellery Government funds £10 million technology hub in Teesside Has your PCN NDT Certification been voided? TWI Can Help… Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal opens new laboratories at TWI High-pressure hydrogen testing at TWI Ice-repellant coating for aerospace and energy industries Industry benefits of composites microwave processing Innovation Centres at TWI deliver progress for industry INTRAPID produces rapid in-line laser AM inspection systems Introducing the TWI Virtual Academy: studying on your own terms Investigating geothermal coatings for the future of renewable energy Laser scanner improves TWI weld analysis services for Members Lasers for decommissioning: the story so far Lifting the lid on innovation: exploratory projects at TWI Lord Heseltine opens new TWI technology and training centre Meeting reinvigorates Welding Institute's Liverpool branch Mike Russell appointed as TWI Operations Director 'Mind the doors' – New project investigates train door failure Mobile electron beam welds for fabricating large structures ModuLase - combining laser processes for the future of manufacturing MoU between ALFED and TWI enhances collaboration Nanosecond pulsed laser expands opportunities for project work NDT Voiding of PCN certification from NDT International New benefit for TWI Members: free access to Welding Abstracts journal New building to house TWI's structural integrity expertise New centre for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies launched New eBooks added for Professional and Industrial Members New facility for testing the barrier performance of polymers New fracture testing accreditation New Granta Centre manager guarantees premier conferencing New home and new capabilities for TWI in Middlesbrough New manufacturing process supports Hayter's winning position New sensor technology for safe shale gas extraction funded New TWI article breaks down the changes to ISO 15614-1 New ultrasonic testing courses from the TWI Virtual Academy New welding apprenticeship standards receive government approval Novel solution for submersible pumps in oil and gas industry Open Day sparks the start of a new era of research for TWI Pioneering tests being conducted on bespoke TWI rig Plant Inspection training meets need for competent workers Plastics welding experts answer your questions at Aquaculture UK 2014 Progressing graphene as a supercritical fluid barrier Project investigates Powder Metallurgy for astrospace use Purpose-built pressure testing facility opens for business at TWI Purpose-built pressure testing facility to be constructed at TWI Registration opens for TWI BS EN ISO 15614-1 (2017) training RJD Engineering gains Factory Production Control system Certification Rolls-Royce's Martin Boyd discusses the benefits of becoming an IEng Showing expertise in corrosion safety, investigation and assessment Simulating real-world conditions for oil and gas research Skills Development Fund Scheme provides extra TWI courses SkillWeld medallist goes on to take gold at EuroSkills 2016 SOCAR and TWI celebrate new competence training partnership Success for TWI's first blended learning course candidates Successful engineers graduate from EWF/IIW Diploma in Welding 'SUPERSLAB' to meet thicker high-strength steels challenge SurFlow: secure, robust, integrated data transfer through composites Symposium highlights developments in linear friction welding Taking the next step as a CSWIP Welding Inspector Tate Modern use solvent technology for art restoration Teletest business transfers to Eddyfi Technologies The 50-year view of fracture The Transport Systems Catapult and TWI Announce Partnership The Welding Institute Annual Awards and Dinner 2017 The Welding Institute Awards 2018 – Applied Technology Award The Welding Institute promoting career development at NECR exhibition True Stress-True Strain Tensile Testing to Failure TWI and Lloyd's Register launch Fullagar Technologies initiative TWI and Lloyd's Register projects advance take-up of AM TWI celebrates National Women in Engineering Day TWI CEO Christoph Wiesner awarded OBE TWI combines heritage with innovation for the Morgan Motor Company TWI commence 'SubSeaLase' decommissioning project TWI delivers plastics welding training course to Fusion Marine TWI develops essential metallography training to ensure best practice TWI enters research centre agreement with AECC BIAM, China TWI helping UK businesses to 'Access India' TWI helps bring Philips Avent's thermoplastic nebulizer to market TWI helps Engineering College meet industry demand for staff TWI holds successful cold spray technology course TWI hosts graduation ceremony for EWF/IIW Diploma engineers TWI joins 'Integral' nuclear waste project TWI lands NDA innovation award for nuclear decommissioning TWI launches course for advanced digital radiography TWI pioneers 'invisible weld' process TWI Pioneers New Dissimilar Weld for European Space Agency TWI rewards outstanding undergraduate engineering projects TWI signs Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco TWI Supports Underwater Laser Cutting Project TWI Technology Fellow given Visiting Professorship at LSBU TWI Training success story - Vera Dragoi TWI wins RIBA Awards TWI working to progress composites in the automotive industry TWI's Dr Philippa Moore: A role model for female engineers TWI's Dr Shiladitya Paul called as guest editor of Coatings journal Ultrasonic imaging climbing robot passes field trials Update on CPD for Welding Institute Professional Members Vince Cable India visit promotes UK business successes Welding Institute Annual Awards 2018 Welding Institute's latest Engineering Council registrants Welding the unweldable: TWI friction stir welds ODS steel WindTwin project to revolutionise wind turbine technology Workshop to address dissimilar materials joining challenge World's largest linear friction welded component produced World's most precise weld made at TWI

20 September 2012

Japanese jewellery
Multi-layered jewellery - produced by friction stir welding and compared with the ancient Japanese art of Mokume Gane

Japanese jewellery creation, and the somewhat less ancient practice of friction stir welding (FSW) came together recently in a project involving the art and design sector of Sheffield Hallam university and TWI.

The work involves a novel method for producing mixed metal multi-coloured layered materials using FSW and compares the results with the ancient Far Eastern art of Mokume Gane.

Mokume Gane is a unique process involving sheets of different coloured metal alloys bonded together into a laminated billet before being carved or milled to expose interior layers. The material is then hammered or rolled into a flat sheet which is used to form jewellery or hollow ware.

The visual effect is stunning, whether it be with the noble metals of silver and gold, or the industrially popular materials of brass and copper. Early on in the development of friction stir the process was identified as ideally suited for joining dissimilar materials.

Using these multi-coloured layers in the process has given TWI a unique insight into how the material flows around the friction stir tool and has thereby enhanced TWI's tool design capability.

  • It is clear that it would be feasible to use FSW to produce Mokume Gane materials from a number of different metals including gold, silver, platinum, palladium, copper and brass.
  • FSW, used in the correct manner, can produce well-bonded materials in laminate form in which the materials have been both bonded and mixed, forming an attractive and repeating pattern that can be reproduced.
  • The fact that mixing occurs at the same time as the bonding provides a reduction in the amount of subsequent work required to form the patterns that give Mokume Gane its appeal.
  • The method does not require high-temperature furnaces or the need to avoid oxidation of the metals, and very little cleaning or sample preparation is required. It is also a relatively low-energy process since the whole sample does not require heating.
  • The patterns formed are unique to FSW and have the potential to be widely varied by changing the lay-up of the materials to be bonded and the friction stir conditions. After reaching steady-state conditions the patterns formed are stable and repeat in a regular manner but with a small natural and random variation, making each piece unique.
  • The bonds formed in the friction stir zone are a combination of the intimate physical contact between the metals resulting in metal-to-metal bonds plus thermally enhanced mechanical alloying, producing microstructures not possible by conventional processing.
  • The nature of FSW means that large ingots of bonded material can be produced relatively easily using multiple passes of the friction stir tool through laminate layers. Other possible material lay-ups are possible, giving many possible variations in pattern, for example, bars of materials side by side or materials with regions inset with a second material.
  • On the smaller machines, such as the TTI, the maximum ingot size is ~ 300mm x 150mm, with thickness determined by the number and thickness of the layers to be bonded but in the region of 10mm to 30mm. Such large sizes are impossible using any other Mokume Gane production technique. In theory the larger PowerStir machine could make much larger sheets measured in metres.
  • With the constant development of FSW and the increasing availability of machines and tooling capable of carrying out FSW, there is a great potential for both large companies and smaller individual makers to begin to experiment and develop new Mokume Gane materials.

In time this approach could also lead to the production of visually stunning architectural panels. To find out more about friction stir welding click here, or contact Stephen Cater.

For more information please email: