Thoughtful design, the result of Bond’s machine expertise and the team’s seeking to truly understand production needs, led to the launching of the innovative PM2 Friction Stir Welding (FSW) machine in 2023. The first of its kind, this high-volume FSW machine brings many benefits to manufacturers wanting to reduce their work envelope and not skip a beat with product out the door.

Part of Bond Technologies’ PM series of machines, the PM2 is Bond’s solution for products like vehicle inverters, electronic enclosures, or small parts that are manufactured in volumes from thousands to millions per year. Sophisticated process controls and data management features are combined with a durable, easy-to-operate mechanical design to give customers a fast, reliable solution for demanding production applications.

Compact, highly reliable, and easy to operate – the PM2 is ideal for small to medium-sized parts constructed from aluminum alloys.

“The PM2 is designed for demanding production environments,” said Dave Hofferbert, President of Bond Technologies. “This is simply the best high-volume production FSW machine on the market.”

Two Modes of Operation

For customers that have different sizes of parts to weld, the PM2 machine offers two modes of operation. The first is geared toward high-volume production, with 500 mm by 500 mm travel in the XY direction, and 300 mm in the Z direction work envelope.

The PM2 has dual shuttles with a quick-change fixture interface and can also operate in synchronous mode for larger parts. The dual shuttles allow manufacturers to weld one part while the other shuttle is preparing for the next weld – increasing production and output for companies who have a PM2 on the floor.

“It can handle two fixtures running side by side, such that one is always available for load and unload, and the other one is always being welded on,” explained John Bosker, Vice President of Engineering. “The advantage of that is welding time – the weld head is always welding, and it is done in parallel with the load/unload operation, so you get the best throughput within one machine.”

Customers might also have a lower volume production part that is larger than the 500 x 500 footprint, explained Bosker. So, the PM2 has the capability of joining the two shuttles together and creating a 500 x 1000-mm work envelope.

“In synchronous mode, the machine is either welding or loading and unloading – so it is not high-volume production. But manufacturers don’t have to buy an entirely different machine for running larger parts. It saves them on capital cost, having the option to run larger parts as needed,” said Bosker.

Less Space on the Factory Floor

All of this is available within the same floor footprint.

Bond’s client, whom the PM2 was initially designed for, discussed product sizes with Bond – and needed a machine for the larger work envelope.

“We learned this larger size was only 10 percent of production time,” said Bosker. “It didn’t make sense to consume that much floor space for a machine that needed such little production time.”
The floor space needed for 1000-mm-wide parts is about the same floor space as two PM2 machines.

“The PM2 was the solution. You have the same capacity and throughput as well as the redundancy of two machines –where if something happens, something goes wrong – the other one is still running production parts,” explained Bosker. “We felt this was the best utilization of floor space and capabilities.”

Easy to Switch PM2 Between Modes of Operation

PM2 machines are intended to be operated in batch mode, but fixture changeover (from one part fixture to another part fixture) can be accomplished in five minutes.

“We designed the front of the machine so that you can roll up to it with a die cart – set the cart at just the right height – take the fasteners loose from the fixture, and then pull it straight out of the front of the machine,” said Bosker. “You then simply bring your next fixture, slide it into place, put fasteners in and it’s ready to go.”

One of the features the PM2 offers is that pneumatic plumbing for operation is all pre-plumbed and connected to the backstop on the machine. Likewise, with the electrical connections. When the fixture is pushed up against the backstop, it will automatically line up and connect.

“You then change the weld program that is appropriate for that fixture and part, and you are back in production in five minutes,” said Bosker.

For a changeover between large and small part production, the operator would remove the safety divider between the two shuttles (necessary during the dural feature operation). Once the divider is removed, the machine automatically detects that the divider wall is gone and switches to large fixture mode and the two shuttles then move as one. When the divider wall is reinstalled, the machine again detects it and switches to two-shuttle mode instead. The changeover between modes of operation is also designed to be done in as little as five minutes.

The weld engineers at the manufacturer set up a weld program appropriate for each fixture and part. Once those programs are developed, the maintenance person or operator on the factory floor will run the production quota for each day and change out the PM2 as needed. Changeovers do not require an engineer to do so, Bosker noted.

Seamless integration with Factory Information Systems

With its high speed, real-time data acquisition, weld pass/fail notification, and full part-traceability, companies can ensure both quantity and quality of the final product, when using the PM2 in their production process.

It’s important to note how seamlessly the PM2 integrates with Factory Information Systems (FIS), also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).

“How does the customer know that the correct fixture is installed for a given part program, given welding tool, and given part? The machine has a barcode system,” explained Bosker. “When a fixture is first loaded and a new part program is loaded, it will request the operator scan a barcode on the fixture, scan a barcode on the tool, and scan a barcode on the part – to know that all are ready to go, and match.”

FIS, connected to the PM2 machine, coordinates and verifies that parts, tools, fixtures, and machine operations are done in the correct order, that the previous operation was complete and successful, and that the next operation is ready for a particular part. This is all-important for effective operations management.

“It tracks every operation and every success and fail that a part goes through,” said Bosker. “A manufacturer will have 100 percent tracking of every part they put out the door. Our PM2 machine is now part of that system to track and do its operations.”

Further, tool-wear tracking makes it possible to understand when a tool needs replacing or is close to failure.

PM2 – a High Volume FSW Machine Unlike Any Other

Countless industries can benefit from the PM2’s assistance in high-volume production needs. The automotive industry has been an early adopter – but it is ideal for any manufacturer that needs a superior and repeatable weld.

“What makes this machine so great is that it truly is a collaboration of our unique machine design capabilities and a true understanding of production needs,” said Bosker. “We looked at this from a user perspective, an operator perspective, the tool change perspective, quality management perspective, and so on. All of the things that a manufacturing company must concern themselves with in order to put a high volume of high-quality parts out the door.”

PM2 Features:

• Dual A/B pallet arrangement for maximum throughput
• Designed for manual load/unload or robotic tending
• High-speed real-time data acquisition
• Barcode scanning of product and FSW tool
• Graphical program editor
• One touch push button for quick change of FSW tool
• Weld pass/fail notification
• Correct part load verification
• Correct clamp-up verification
• Vacuum supply to nest
• FIS (factory information system) integration available

Friction stir welding (FSW) is a relatively new technology for joining metals together using a spinning tool that produces frictional heat. Sometimes described as more of a forging process than actual welding – FSW is a solid-state joining technique used to join metals not easily fused with traditional welding. Ideal for materials such as aluminum, copper, and other metal alloys, FSW is commonly used in the Aerospace, Railway, Automobile, Ship Building, and Marine industries. Friction Stir Welding makes possible very high-quality welds with minimal distortion. It is also a process that can be easily automated, making it an ideal solution for industrial and manufacturing use.

Put the PM2 Machine to Work on Your Factory Floor

If you are ready to discover how you can put the PM2 Machine to work for you, let us know! Bond Technologies offers a full line of friction stir welding (FSW) machines, FSW tools & accessories, custom engineering solutions, and a host of services to help you integrate FSW technology into production. Request a quote on your project by emailing sales@bondtechnologies.net or contacting us here.