TWI's Technology Centre in Yorkshire houses one of the most powerful friction stir welding (FSW) machines in the world. It was installed to extend the boundaries of research and development in thick-section FSW and has over 130kW of spindle power. The machine operates over an area of 6.6m x 3.6m, with 12 programmable machine axes and a maximum down force of 15 tonnes. It also has a retractable work table to allow larger components to be welded.
A unique feature of a machine of this size is an opposed welding head located directly beneath the upper head. This gives the opportunity for twin-sided welding to be performed, offering the potential to weld materials up to 150mm thick in a single pass.
The machine is well equipped with data capturing/logging systems to record the weld data and water-cooling to manage tool and component temperature.