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Lifting the lid on innovation: exploratory projects at TWI

Back to Media and Events £19.5m project launched for Port Talbot engineering centre 11th International FSW Symposium 2016 – Call for Papers 2013-07-creepimage-inspecting-creep-damage-in-critical-power-plant-components 2015-05-contributions-invited-for-uk-strategy-for-additive-manufacturing 2015-10-cswip-employer-specific-ndt-in-compliance-with-iso-9712 2016-09-cutting-edge-technology-for-nuclear-decommissioning 2017-08-david-williams-ieng-mweldi-an-engineering-inspiration A career in welding inspection A forum to share knowledge and exchange manufacturing ideas Accelerated Innovation Programmes launch at TWI ActFast: Real-time fibre-optic monitoring for laser welding Additive manufactured medical implants to enter mainstream Additive manufacturing guidelines will support industry adoption Additive Manufacturing UK Strategy update available for download Addressing advances in laser additive manufacturing Advanced electron beam facilities meet advanced industrial challenges Advanced ultrasonic full matrix capture inspection software launched Advisory group promote novel NDT methods in aerospace African company approaches TWI for plastics welding training AILU awards recognise TWI laser technology innovators Alan Taylor to represent TWI at international conference Apprentice welder wins medallion at WorldSkills 2015 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 AWFTE to hold first all-day forum at TWI Back to work with TWI's 2018 'Business Resolutions' BeamAssure™ – electron beam welding quality assurance tool Best practice for nuclear construction industry welding Best young welders' teams from throughout Europe will compete BIS Chief Scientist and Director of Innovation visit TWI Blended learning gets results for Spanish NDT students Boccard UK engineers receive plastic welding training from TWI Brazilian student sees advantage of blended learning course BS 7910:2013 - Assessing flaws in metallic structures BS 7910:2013 receives first amendment Budding engineers join Structural integrity project Call for papers: 12th International FSW Symposium Call for papers: International Ocean and Polar Engineering Conference Celebrating success - spotlight on young engineers Centre of excellence created for the next industrial revolution CII and TWI awareness seminar in composites technology Coatings and surface engineering: addressing the needs of industry Cold spray experts launch all-round introduction course 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 Designed for future growth: TWI celebrates construction milestone Developing technology to reuse industrial waste heat 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 Effective operation of undersea well control valve stacks eLearning package for CSWIP 3.1 Welding Inspector launched Engineering laboratory marks new era of R&D at TWI Engineers develop chewing machine to test denture adhesives Entrepreneur tours TWI Technology Centre (Wales) Entry is now open for SkillWeld 2016 Evolution of ageing management Exploring opportunities with friction stir welding of steels Extending Aircraft Life Using Cold Spray Technology Familiarisation Course to EN ISO 3834 Fibre delivered laser beam cutting optimisation First MPhil student graduates from NSIRC Franco-British Symposium on Composite Materials Friction stir welding – joining the future of industry Friction stir welding and Japanese jewellery Friction stir welding of high performance steels Gammax IIS, Bury St Edmunds, employs Weldspec and Welderqual Gareth Hurrell wins Advanced Engineering Apprentice Award Gathering of experts at 2016 NSIRC Annual Conference Government funds £10 million technology hub in Teesside Graduates visit TWI to capitalise on Industrial Membership Has your PCN NDT Certification been voided? TWI Can Help… Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal opens new laboratories at TWI Highlighting women in engineering: Ángela Angulo High-pressure hydrogen testing at TWI Hot Gas and Extrusion Welding Appreciation: a new course from TWI Ice-repellant coating for aerospace and energy industries Industry benefits of composites microwave processing Innovation Centres at TWI deliver progress for industry Innovation ensures thermoplastic storage tank integrity International FSW Symposium technical programme available 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 Investigating real-time testing and monitoring of pipelines Investigating the use of lasers for nuclear decommissioning Irish Rail calls TWI for bespoke visual inspection training Joint industry project to develop mobile rail head repair solution Laser research drives greater take-up of cutting technology Laser scanner improves TWI weld analysis services for Members Lasers for decommissioning: the story so far LEP deal launches plans for a new large-scale test facility at TWI Lifting the lid on innovation: exploratory projects at TWI Lord Heseltine opens new TWI technology and training centre Meeting discusses on North Sea oil and gas asset management 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 Names of latest Engineering Council registrants published today 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 capabilities shown during seminars in China and Japan New centre for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies launched New developments in plastic welding highlighted New eBooks added for Professional and Industrial Members New equipment boosts ultrasonic inspection capability New facility for testing the barrier performance of polymers New fracture testing accreditation New fracture toughness testing standard published 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 project aims to spread the use of additive manufacturing New project to advance laser additive manufacturing New sensor technology for safe shale gas extraction funded New specialist equipment and project to improve tidal energy New TWI article breaks down the changes to ISO 15614-1 New ultrasonic testing courses from the TWI Virtual Academy New version of RiskWISE® released New welding apprenticeship standards receive government approval New Welding of Moulded Plastic Components course New welding procedures CSWIP course launched Nominations now open for The Welding Institute Awards 2018 Novel solution for submersible pumps in oil and gas industry NSIRC invites PhD proposals from leading universities NSIRC to operate from new, expanded facilities at TWI NSIRC welcomes first BP-sponsored PhD student Offering expertise to tackle knife crime epidemic Online tool launched for electromagnetic field assessments Open Day sparks the start of a new era of research for TWI Phased Array Ultrasonic Training – An Innovative Approach Pioneering tests being conducted on bespoke TWI rig Plant Inspection training meets need for competent workers Plant Integrity applies guided wave expertise to handheld device Plant Integrity exhibiting at the IPEIA Conference, Alberta, Canada Plant Integrity exhibits at Middle East Corrosion Conference Plastics welding experts answer your questions at Aquaculture UK 2014 Polyethylene pipeline testing service launches in N. America Polymers expert delivers graphene talk at TWI Preparing students for industry: the Brunel Innovation Centre Progressing graphene as a supercritical fluid barrier Project investigates Powder Metallurgy for astrospace use Project to detect hydrogen attack opens to partners Purpose-built pressure testing facility opens for business at TWI Purpose-built pressure testing facility to be constructed at TWI Quality control project could transform laser welding Reducing impact of air transport using additive manufacturing Registration open for 2017 Structural Integrity Conference Registration open for the UK's national welding competition Registration opens for 11th International FSW Symposium Registration opens for TWI BS EN ISO 15614-1 (2017) training Report examines state of engineering in the UK Richard Dolby / Rolls-Royce Prize launched RJD Engineering gains Factory Production Control system Certification Robotic automated NDT inspection boost for the aerospace industry Rolls-Royce's Martin Boyd discusses the benefits of becoming an IEng Safety warning issued following catastrophic clamp failure Sharc Matter: First -time market access to TWI's VitoNano Technology 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 apprentice set for WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 SkillWeld medallist goes on to take gold at EuroSkills 2016 SOCAR and TWI celebrate new competence training partnership STEM Fair workshops inspire next generation Stephen Kinnock MP supports new business initiatives at TWI Wales Strengthening links with Chinese industry Students begin UK's first MSc in Structural Integrity 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 celebrates 25 years of friction stir welding Symposium highlights developments in linear friction welding Taking the next step as a CSWIP Welding Inspector Tate Modern use solvent technology for art restoration Team Romania scoops gold in WeldCup 2015 Technician and STEM Ambassador of the Year awards open Technology tournament inspires young engineers to fly high Teletest business transfers to Eddyfi Technologies The 50-year view of fracture The Test House Gains UKAS Accreditation For Digital Radiography The Transport Systems Catapult and TWI Announce Partnership The Welding Institute Annual Awards and Dinner 2016 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 Thermal spraying facility opens for industrial research Ties strengthened with Indian industry at UK–India Manufacturing Week TowerPower to reduce costs for offshore wind inspections Training workshop delivered to power company Eskom True Stress-True Strain Tensile Testing to Failure TWI adds to new standard for thermoplastic component joining TWI agreement with AVIC Manufacturing Technology Institute TWI and DNV collaborate to host 'Welding Experts' event TWI and leading university establish new innovation centre TWI and Lloyd's Register launch Fullagar Technologies initiative TWI and Lloyd's Register projects advance take-up of AM TWI and Rolls-Royce team up to develop Welding Engineering Diploma TWI and Teesside University launch Health Innovation Centre TWI announces Technical Open Day in conjunction with WeldCup TWI Arkwright Scholars a step closer to engineering career TWI at Engineering and Construction Recruitment Exhibition TWI attends tribology anniversary reception TWI attends UK-India Manufacturing Week TWI celebrates National Women in Engineering Day TWI CEO Christoph Wiesner awarded OBE TWI Certification chief executive to become president of EWF TWI Certification partners with construction skills scheme TWI China TWI combines heritage with innovation for the Morgan Motor Company TWI commence 'SubSeaLase' decommissioning project TWI composites specialist to speak at National Space Centre TWI contributes to LIGHTer International Conference TWI delivers plastics welding training course to Fusion Marine TWI develops essential metallography training to ensure best practice TWI engineer wins international award for research TWI enters research centre agreement with AECC BIAM, China TWI expansion bringing jobs and investment to Teesside TWI expert appointed visiting professor by top university TWI experts available for consultation at NACE Corrosion 2015 TWI extends capability to test adhesives and composites TWI Finite Element Analysts achieve accreditation TWI flies high at Farnborough International Air Show TWI helping to spearhead skills initiative in India 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 helps grow Innovation, Research and Technology sector TWI helps push European car body initiative TWI holds materials workshop at Cambridge sixth-form college TWI holds successful cold spray technology course TWI hosted Innovation Centres continue to grow TWI hosts graduation ceremony for EWF/IIW Diploma engineers TWI hosts successful exploration and production workshop TWI inspection team in high demand at JEC World, Paris TWI joins 'Integral' nuclear waste project TWI lands NDA innovation award for nuclear decommissioning TWI launches course for advanced digital radiography TWI launches new MSc in Engineering Leadership and Management TWI pioneers 'invisible weld' process TWI Pioneers New Dissimilar Weld for European Space Agency TWI plays its part in Working to Engineer a Better World TWI provides fracture toughness training and consultancy in Singapore TWI rewards outstanding undergraduate engineering projects TWI set to exhibit at Offshore Wind Energy 2017 next month TWI set to exhibit at the Farnborough International Airshow TWI set to present at AWS Conference on Plastics Welding and Joining TWI signs Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco TWI South East Asia commended by Malaysian government TWI supporting the 2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures TWI Supports Underwater Laser Cutting Project TWI supports West Suffolk's Outstanding Apprentice of the Year Award TWI Technology Centre Wales secures over €1m through EU programme TWI Technology Fellow given Visiting Professorship at LSBU TWI technology used for ground-breaking SpaceX flight TWI to develop underground storage tank monitoring system TWI to exhibit at 56th Annual British NDT Conference TWI to exhibit at SPE Offshore Europe TWI to launch aerospace inspection software at the Paris Air Show TWI to present at major industry conferences in India TWI to train Environment Agency landfill inspection staff TWI Training success story - Vera Dragoi TWI wins Cambridge Business Weekly Award for International Trade TWI wins RIBA Awards TWI working to progress composites in the automotive industry TWI-led project to reduce costs and improve aircraft efficiency TWI's Dr Philippa Moore: A role model for female engineers TWI's Dr Shiladitya Paul called as guest editor of Coatings journal TWI's flow loop available again after three-year testing UAE seminar demos TWI's unique PolyTest inspection system UK friction stir welding courses see increasing demand UKTI mission to India explores opportunities for UK aerospace sector Ultrasonic imaging climbing robot passes field trials Update on CPD for Welding Institute Professional Members Upgraded surface engineering facilities showcased Vibration-based in-flight composite health monitoring Video series sheds light on studying a PhD with TWI Vince Cable India visit promotes UK business successes Visit Plant Integrity Ltd booth at Corrosion 2016 exhibition Visit TWI at First World Congress on Condition Monitoring Volumetric testing of polyethylene pipe joints with PolyTest Welding Institute Annual Awards 2018 Welding Institute Annual Conference to focus on AM Welding Institute branch promotes welding careers Welding Institute Engineering Council Registrations increase Welding Institute's latest Engineering Council registrants Welding the unweldable: TWI friction stir welds ODS steel WindTwin project to revolutionise wind turbine technology Workshop explores state of play of mooring chain research Workshop to address dissimilar materials joining challenge World's largest linear friction welded component produced World's most precise weld made at TWI Yorkshire MP pays visit to TWI in Rotherham Young welders and metalworkers recognised at WorldSkills UK
12 October 2016
Power cables joined using a technique developed as part of a TWI exploratory research project
Power cables joined using a technique developed as part of a TWI exploratory research project

TWI is first and foremost a research organisation, investigating innovative concepts with the aim of developing improvements to processes and technologies for the benefit of our Industrial Members.

Of all the types of research that take place here, the most eclectic and experimental projects can be found in our exploratory programme. This article will introduce this strand of research, and describe some of its notable recent developments.

Types of research at TWI

Over the years our commitment to research has led to breakthroughs in many, diverse areas. Notable achievements include conducting the world’s first gas-assisted laser cut in 1967, inventing friction stir welding in 1991 and, over the last couple of years, developing full matrix capture, an advanced form of phased array ultrasonic testing, from proof of concept to commercial readiness.

Research at TWI takes several forms. Our core research programme, funded to the tune of £4 million using 50 per cent of our Membership fees, encompasses more than 50 projects each year. These projects are driven by the needs of our Members; results are published as Industrial Member reports, available exclusively to Members of TWI.

We also carry out and frequently lead publicly funded projects, most often in collaboration with other research organisations and businesses. Usually funded by the European Union or UK-based programmes such as Innovate UK, these projects seek to develop new and existing technologies, for environmental or economic gain.

Joint industry projects see us coordinate small groups of sponsors, often from within our Membership, to seek a solution to a shared problem. Pooling resources in this way allows everyone involved to reap the benefits of substantial research without having to bear the expense of conducting it singlehandedly. Then there are single client projects – confidential research carried out for individual Members. These are focused investigations tackling specific problems – the consultancy side of TWI’s business.

Separate to all of these strands of research is our exploratory research programme. This is where the ethos of innovation at TWI is most vividly represented, where our scientists and engineers are given the freedom to explore completely new ideas. Some may never progress beyond the concept stage, but others will be explored, fleshed out and assessed for viability; a small number may even grow into truly disruptive technologies.

Current areas of exploratory research

Around 40 exploratory projects are begun every year, under the headings of metal processing, non-metal processing, materials characterisation, materials testing and structural assessment.

Here we will summarise ten projects from the last 12 months; many are still ongoing, but each has already shown potential to bring tangible benefits to TWI Members. In the next Connect, we will explore one of these projects in more detail, recounting the challenges involved, explaining the chosen approach and describing the developed solution, in a technical article available exclusively to Members of TWI.

Laser metal deposition manufacturing

Although additive manufacture is seeing widespread adoption across industry, there remains no dedicated software for one of its most promising variants, laser metal deposition (LMD). TWI’s Yorkshire-based additive manufacturing team developed new computer-aided manufacturing software to plug this gap, along with a specialised five-axis control plug-in to allow creation of complex parts using a three-axis LMD nozzle in coordination with a two-axis CNC rotary table.

Electron beam additive manufacturing

Already having led to a patent, work on this project continues to develop the potential of electron beam melting, a form of additive manufacturing that uses an electron beam as a heat source to create parts with properties comparable to wrought material. The patent granted is for a novel electron beam gun that extracts electrons from a radio frequency-excited plasma, sidestepping the wear issues affecting traditional electron guns.

Thick-section aluminium friction stir welding

Twenty-five years on from its invention, friction stir welding (FSW) continues to offer opportunities for new and improved methods of fabrication. This latest work is exploring simultaneous double-sided FSW, which has the potential to weld thick-section aluminium in a single pass, drastically reducing the time required compared to the established weld-flip-weld technique.

Cable joining

Power cables’ unique structure has hindered the development of an efficient and effective method of joining them together. TWI has been experimenting with a new technique, based on friction stir spot welding, which promises to overcome these issues. We have already lodged a patent application and continue to refine this technology.

Examination of weld root features

This research established the cause of very shallow crack-like features occasionally found at the weld root of duplex and super duplex stainless steels. As part of the investigation TWI developed a finite element analysis model, which we used to perform thermal and stress analyses of the flaw. This led to the discovery that the flaws were a result of local tensile strain at the root.

Development of an app for calculating fugacity

Fugacity plays a major role in thermodynamic calculations, particularly at high pressures, where deviation from ideal gas behaviour becomes more likely. With companies in the oil and gas sector increasingly seeking to conduct tests in conditions that simulate high-pressure service, calculating fugacity has become an important requirement. TWI developed a web-based software tool to help its Members quickly and easily achieve this, for a variety of gases and fluids.

Testing of polymers in aggressive environments

Sometimes exploratory projects aim to improve technologies that already exist. In this project, TWI further enhanced methods of monitoring the effects of exposure of non-metals to harsh environments. One of these is permeation testing, which has been developed further to include corrosive gases at elevated pressures, water vapour, hydrocarbons (up to C8) and seawater. TWI now has facilities to apply differential scanning calorimetry and mechanical testing to assess changes in the material. Members are already benefiting from these advancements, which are now being used in single client and joint industry projects.

Hot testing of thermally sprayed aluminium

Thermally sprayed aluminium (TSA) is a well-established method of coating steels for corrosion protection, with potential for use on pipelines transporting hot fluids from oil and gas wells. However, a current lack of design codes and standards for use of TSA on hot components is limiting its take-up. This project has involved experiments to ascertain the applicability of existing standards and to understand the mechanisms affecting hot components coated with TSA.

Integrity management software

TWI’s CrackWISE software is widely used across industry to automate the fracture and fatigue assessment procedures found in BS 7910 for engineering critical assessment. The latest evolution has moved beyond the content of BS 7910, and now incorporates TWI’s specialist knowledge in this area. IntegriWISE, fitness-for-service assessment software, was also updated in this project, being expanded to include corrosion assessment to a DNV standard. These software packages continue to evolve according to the needs of industry.

Development of a corrosion-monitoring tool using pulsed eddy current technology

This project has been exploring the possibility of using pulsed eddy current technology for corrosion monitoring. So far a new pulse generator has been designed and built, capable of generating high-amplitude current with variable pulse width. This is housed in a custom frame, designed to provide 360-degree coverage of the outer surface of a pipe, and controlled using a LabVIEW virtual interface. Work is ongoing to refine the tool and move it towards market readiness.

Future plans

The above ten summaries are the highlights, but together they make up less than a quarter of the total number of projects currently underway as part of TWI’s exploratory research programme.

Articles exploring these projects in depth will be published in subsequent issues of TWI’s newsletter, Connect, beginning next time with a closer look at how TWI has evolved friction stir welding to the point where it is now capable of joining thick sections of aluminium in a single pass.

To find out more about TWI’s research programmes, visit the research and innovation page, or contact us.

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