Shipbuilding and Marine Construction
The shipbuilding and marine industries are two of the first sectors that have adopted the process for commercial applications.
The process is suitable for the following applications:
- Panels for decks, sides, bulkheads and floors
- Hulls and superstructures
- Helicopter landing platforms
- Marine and transport structures
- Masts and booms, e.g. for sailing boats
- Refrigeration plant
At present the aerospace industry is welding prototype and production parts by friction stir welding. Opportunities exist to weld skins to spars, ribs, and stringers for use in military and civilian aircraft. This offers significant advantages compared to riveting and machining from solid, such as reduced manufacturing costs and weight savings. Longitudinal butt welds in Al alloy fuel tanks for space vehicles have been friction stir welded and successfully used. The process could also be used to increase the size of commercially available sheets by welding them before forming.
The friction stir welding process can be considered for:
- Wings, fuselages, empennages
- Cryogenic fuel tanks for space vehicles
- Aviation fuel tanks
- External throw away tanks for military aircraft
- Military and scientific rockets
- Repair of faulty MIG welds
The commercial production of high speed trains made from aluminium extrusions, which may be joined by friction stir welding, has been established.
- High speed trains
- Rolling stock of railways, underground carriages, trams
- Railway tankers and goods wagons
- Container bodies
The friction stir welding process is currently being used commercially and is also being assessed by several automotive companies and suppliers.
Existing and potential applications include:
- Engine and chassis cradles
- Wheel rims
- Attachments to hydroformed tubes
- Space frames, e.g. welding extruded tubes to cast nodes
- Truck bodies & tail lifts for lorries
- Mobile cranes
- Armour plate vehicles
- Fuel tankers
- Buses and airfield transportation vehicles