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Automation of Composite and Hybrid Joining Process

Project Code: 34718

Start date and planned duration: January 2022, 36 months


  • Develop an automated 3D geometry composites welding capability at TWI.

  • Demonstrate the capability by joining the 3D parts in an automated process with an equivalent performance to a current state-of-the-art flat geometry and progress towards a fully automated capacity.

  • Create an equivalent performance capability with other TWI technologies i.e; a) Automated robotic NDT (IntACOM™)  b) Automated robotic friction processes (RFSSW, CoreFlowTM)   c) Automated robotic laser welding (Lasertau)  d) Automated robotic thermal spaying 

Project Outline

Industry required robust joining technology for real three-dimensional components, often with complex geometry. Laboratory innovation and prototype joining solution are often generated and evolve in a one or two-dimensional geometry, with simple static jigs or pressure applicators. Although demonstration of the feasibility in the laboratory at up to TRL 3/4 is of value, industry needs to see the technology working on real geometry components.

Significant challenges have had to be overcome, not only in the welding steps, but also in the automation. The same challenges are now being faced by the aerospace industry, automotive industry, with the increasing trend for adoption of composites to reduce the mass of vehicles, in the marine industry, where composites in ships are being exploited more and more. Even the oil and gas industry is evaluating welding as a joining approach for non-metallic composite pipes, where thousands of kilometres of reinforced thermoset resin (RTR) pipe is being installed every year.

All these industrial applications will requires significant levels of automation in order to deliver high quality products in high volumes (number of welds per minute).

 The aim of the project is simply to progress the composites joining theme towards offering a complete and integrated joining solution to industrial members. The ultimate goal is acquisition of a six-axis robot to facilitate progression of innovation through to TRL 6 ‘Technology validated in an industrially relevant environment’.

 Industry Sectors

-         Aerospace

-         Automotive

-         Oil & Gas

-         Energy

-         Sporting Goods

 Benefits to Industry

The automation of composite joining processes will help in easier and faster transition and adaptation of TWI technology into industry by progressing up the technology readiness level. The knowledge obtained from the preliminary work will assist in seeding the confidence for building multi-staged automated processes at different stages of product manufacturing.

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