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The business was the first to identify the main factors controlling hydrogen induced heat affected zone cracking. It developed cracking tests and hydrogen measurement methods and later produced a comprehensive prediction procedure for avoiding cracking in structural steels, and determining the importance of sulphur content in cracking.
The prediction procedure formed the basis of a key British Standard for many years and now incorporates the European standard which superseded it. TWI's hydrogen measurement methods were adopted by the International Institute of Welding in the late eighties.
The first code of practice for spot and projection welding was developed half way through the last century on the site near Cambridge where TWI is now established.
These practices were immediately adopted by the International Institute of Welding and today form the basis of robotic spot welding of automotive parts.
The first examination of low stress brittle fracture was demonstrated in the laboratory, shortly after the second world war, using the wide plate test, named after Alan Wells, a future director general of The Welding Institute.
More than half a century later this 4000 tonne test rig is still the industry standard in both fracture initiation and crack arrest testing.
General yielding fracture mechanics and the Crack Tip Opening Displacement test were developed during this period.
Today the method is still an essential element of most fracture mechanics international standards and a fundamental tool for weld flaw assessment.
The British Welding Research Association, as TWI was then known, invented oxygen assisted laser cutting, and by the early seventies had developed a fast axial flow CO2 laser.
The first commercial fast axial CO2 lasers were built under licence from TWI in 1974. There are now over 12000 laser cutting systems worldwide.
The BWRA, as TWI was then known, was the first to demonstrate and explain why the fatigue life of joints is largely unrelated to steel strength.
This revelation led to the successful application of fracture mechanics for the fatigue assessment of joints throughout the oil and gas community offshore and on.
The first comprehensive fatigue design rules for welded joints were developed at TWI's site, near Cambridge.
Today these rules form the basis of most international fatigue standards, and have been adopted by civil, mechanical, structural and production engineers the world over.
The Welding Institute, as TWI was then known, pioneered the development of the MIG and TIG welding processes.
Today nearly every power source manufacturer in the world produces programmable sets for MIG welding. Some 5000 are currently sold per year.
The Welding Institute was first to determine the factors governing the incidence of lamellar tearing, and to determine safe short transverse ductility levels for its avoidance.
Today this costly problem - many millions of pounds were lost in the preceding three decades - has been virtually eradicated in the developed world by improving steel making practices.
TWI was the first to develop aluminium and copper ball bonding for fine pitch electronic chip interconnection using wires as small as 25 microns diameter.
Today TWI holds a unique knowledge base in fine wire interconnect which is being applied internationally for the benefit of its Member companies.
The crucial role of non-metallic inclusions in the formation of tough steel microstructures was identified.
Today high fracture toughness in weld metal depends on fine grained transformed microstructures which have nucleated on a fine distribution of inclusions, as well as the levels of aluminium, titanium and oxygen.
The organisation drew up the first quantitative guidance for assessing the significance of defects in welded structures.
Today the UK leads the world in these forms of assessment. The flagship standard on the subject, BS7910, was adopted by the civil, marine, oil and gas and power generation communities. Much of the standard was originated at the British Welding Research Association, as TWI was then known.
TWI was at the forefront of work to identify and quantify the microstructural and compositional factors controlling weld area properties in duplex stainless steels.
The work prompted steel makers around the world to modify their products to make them more weldable.
During this period The Welding Institute was the first to achieve high power in-vacuum electron beam welding at 75kW and penetrate up to 300mm in steel in a single pass.
Today TWI remains in the world's vanguard of organisations which performs high power in-vacuum electron beam welding.It routinely undertakes thick section welding tasks at powers upto 100kW for the power generation sector.
This period saw the invention and development of a long range ultrasonic inspection technique which was to change pipe inspection forever.
Overnight, defect detection of remote pipeline was made possible in difficult locations, even where the pipe was lagged or buried.
TWI was the first to quantify the weld area molecular and morphology changes in polyethylene and polypropylene.
At the time the technique was considered groundbreaking.
TWI was first to develop linear friction welding of metals.
Today the process is adopted by aero engine producers the world over. It has revolutionised the manufacture of compressor rotors in jet engines and is being developed for a variety of lower cost applications.
TWI invented friction stir welding. It was initially used to join aluminium but is now capable of joining a wide range of materials.
Nearly 200 organisations have been licensed to use the solid-phase, environmentally friendly process. It has even been used in space vehicles. Many more materials have now been joined using the process including magnesium, copper, zinc, lead and some plastics.
TWI was the first to develop a high power reduced pressure electron beam welding process.
Today it leads the world both in chamber and local vacuum Reduced Pressure Electron Beam Welding and holds the process patent. It is now adopted widely by the power generation, oil and gas and heavy engineering structural communities.
A non-contact defocused laser beam process for ablative removal of concrete surfaces.
A major potential user is the nuclear power industry where concrete surfaces can become contaminated to a depth of a few millimetres.
TWI's laser direct metal deposition systems use lasers supplying beams which can be focused to a spot from 0.2mm to 2.5mm plus in diameter. This makes the process suitable for depositing both fine detail and bulk material alike.
The process provides rapid, accurate placement of material at low heat input allowing the use of crack-sensitive alloys such as nickel based alloys of particular interest to gas turbine manufacturers and repairers.
This is a surface modification technique which uses electron and laser beams, to re-shape materials precisely and 'grow' protrusions out of the surface of a material.
Surfi-Sculpt works on a wide variety of materials, not just metals. Any material that forms a stable liquid phase under the action of the beam may be processed, and this includes some materials that are not electrically conductive in the normal sense.
TWI has a total of seven resonance testing machines for full-scale fatigue testing of pipe joints accommodating diameters in the range 4 to 36" (100 to 914mm). New control systems and software developed in-house, allow the required loading spectrum to be reproduced reliably at the resonant frequency of the full-scale pipe sample.
This unique system is now used for extreme high-cycle variable amplitude tests, up to 200 million cycles, on 16" (406mm) diameter pipe in a Group Sponsored Project. Other components such as pipe to forging joints, threaded pipe connectors or solid components such as drive shafts can also be handled.
The equipment is designed for testing materials in high pressure hydrogen environments. A range of tests can be carried out including fatigue, tensile testing and fracture toughness testing. The new facility is capable of operating at 1000bar, within a temperature range of +85 to -150°C.
Development of a world-leading sour service cracking and corrosion fatigue test facility producing fatigue design curves for welded steel catenary risers in sour service, representing a significant step forward for the oil and gas industry.
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