The objectives of the proposed project are:
- To raise TWI’s position and reputation in Robotic FSW Technology;
- To develop an increased understanding of Robotic FSW and understand the variables and capability;
- To provide member companies with information on the Robotic FSW, the state-of-the-art, capabilities, welding techniques, fixturing considerations and a case study on the industry representative component.
This project will undertake a programme of research into Robotic FSW of non-ferrous alloys.
It is recommended that the research encompasses:
- A literature study to assess the state of the art in Robotic FSW and the range of industrial components particularly suited to joining by a robot;
- Assessment of conventional Robotic FSW and new FSW variant such as Stationary Shoulder FSW;
- Investigation of the different joint configurations that can be welded with an emphasis on industrially relevant geometries and the particular requirements for jigs and fixtures;
- Demonstrate and fully qualify a production capable low force FSW process on an industry representative component.
Relevant Industry Sectors
Technical and Economic Benefits
Friction Stir Welding (FSW) of is a well-established technology for production of lightweight parts, primarily in aluminium alloys, but the industrial applications are mainly limited to straight joint lines welded in custom-built machines. The possibilities for re-configuration and welding multi-dimensional joints are therefore limited. In analogy to other welding processes, the industry would benefit from robotisation of FSW because it offers more flexibility in terms of automation, geometry types and re-configurability. However, the high process forces involved in FSW are a significant barrier. This is due to the lack of stiffness and limited force capability of robots. If these hurdles can be reduced, the potential market for robotic FSW is large particularly in smaller sized, high volume, multi-dimensional path components.
Particular interest in smaller sized, high volume, multi-dimensional path components has been expressed by:
- Automotive part suppliers where complex, light weight, dissimilar material components are very common.
- Suppliers of products which require liquid/air tight joints e.g. cold plates, electronic encapsulation.