Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a modern welding process that offers numerous advantages over conventional welding methods. It has gained wide acceptance in industries ranging from aerospace and shipbuilding to automotive, railcars, and research and development. The unique characteristics of friction stir welding technology make possible completely new products and greatly improved assemblies that are currently arc welded. In this blog post, we will explore the questions you should ask to determine if FSW is right for your industry and production needs.

1. What materials are you welding?

FSW works well with aluminum, copper, titanium, and magnesium alloys, and can be used for other materials as well, including dissimilar metal combinations. FSW is particularly useful for applications that require high strength, high quality, and high fatigue resistance. However, FSW machinery requires high force input to achieve acceptable results, so purpose-built equipment is generally required.

2. Do you have the necessary equipment to incorporate FSW into production?

As we mentioned above, purpose-built equipment is generally required for FSW applications. Bond Technologies offers a full line of friction stir welding machines, from compact machines up to large-scale multi-axis, multi-spindle systems. This line of rigid, high-stiffness, versatile machines is designed to meet the needs of most friction stir welding (FSW) applications. All of Bond’s standard welding systems are available with a long list of options and custom engineering to adapt systems to specific applications.

Although our standard machine product lines offer the most cost-effective and quickest solution, Bond designs and builds custom friction stir welding machines to meet client needs in cases where an application requires specialized equipment.

3. What is the production volume?

FSW is ideal for high volume and low mix production as weld development and fixturing setup to ensure a high-quality joint is time-consuming. FSW requires rigid fixturing to achieve high-quality welds. If you have high-volume production in mind, you will need to consider these costs carefully. FSW offers high-quality welds, but the initial investment is substantial.

To push high-volume production manufacturing forward, Bond recently launched the PM2 FSW machine. The PM2 is part of Bond’s PM series, designed as a solution for products like vehicle inverters, electronic enclosures, or small parts manufactured in volumes from thousands to millions per year.

What sets the PM2 apart is its compact, highly reliable design coupled with sophisticated process controls and data management features. It’s designed for demanding production environments and offers a fast, reliable solution for production applications. The PM2 is just one solution for incorporating FSW into your production needs.

4. What is the joint geometry?

FSW can weld a variety of different joint geometries but by and large the most common weld joints we see are butt and lap joints. The amount of material present around the weld has a big impact on weld quality so careful consideration needs to be made to the design of the joint and part itself.

5. Do you have the expertise in-house?

You will need to invest in training and support to achieve success with FSW. Consider whether you can hire or train personnel to operate and maintain the equipment successfully. Bond employs FSW process experts who have worked with FSW for decades. As part of our commitment to our customers, the team’s extensive experience is available to Bond customers in the form of process technology training for management, shop supervisors, quality inspectors, and machine operators. As part of the engineering services Bond offers, we will work with your team to ensure the successful adoption of the process and a smooth transition to production.

6. How can FSW work for you?

FSW is a versatile, high-quality, and cost-effective process that can be used in various industries and applications. Before adopting FSW, it is essential to evaluate its suitability for your product design, production volume, and in-house expertise. If you have any concerns or questions about FSW, Bond’s team of experts is ready to assist you. With the right preparations and considerations, the adoption of FSW will yield significant ROI.

Unsure of whether Friction Stir Welding will work for your application?

At Bond Technologies, we believe in providing comprehensive support to our customers, going beyond simply selling machines. Our dedicated team of engineering and process experts is here to assist our FSW, Friction Extrusion, and Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding customers every step of the way. Our comprehensive approach encompasses not only building the finest FSW machines but also understanding your process and helping you develop expertise in friction-based processing. From custom machines to product prototyping to production — Bond can help you determine if FSW is the solution for you. Contact us today and let us help you turn your vision into reality.