Friction Stir Welding Research
Bond Technologies continues to push FSW technology forward
Pushing the envelope of what Friction Stir Welding can do – how it can be applied, and what new materials can be forged – is a passion of the Bond Technologies team.
With the technology being invented in 1991, just over 20 years ago, an enormous amount of research continues to be done in the world of FSW – and Bond Technologies helps move that technology forward each day.
“We’re pretty geeked out about it,” said Dave Hofferbert, President of Bond Technologies. “To be a part of an emerging technology, and actually be in a position where you get to influence it – that’s a pretty rare thing.”
When FSW was first invented, there were a handful of industries that adopted the new technology and turned it into a valuable, profitable tool, Hofferbert explained.
But, there remains so much untapped potential – and to help uncover that potential, Bond Technologies works to foster close relationships within the research community. FSW machines from the Bond team, like the RM7 and RM10, are used for research and development purposes by The Welding Institute, Brigham Young University, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Spirit Aerosystems. Additional collaboration is ongoing with The Ohio State University and Edison Welding Institute.
Overall, there are three leading groups who are pushing Friction Stir Welding forward:
Universities & Colleges
Engineering students and those studying manufacturing and emerging technologies are doing a great amount of research when it comes to FSW.
National & Global Labs
Numerous private laboratories, focused on engineering and technology, are dedicated to developing and testing advanced manufacturing technologies. Pacific Northwest is among these.
Partnership Programs such as LIFT
Consortiums such as this, often funded by the federal government, allows researchers to do targeted projects such as Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding for titanium. These groups are made up of private companies, industries, labs and universities all collaborating on research.
“In order to do the research, they need the ability to actually do the research,” Hofferbert explained. “They look to companies like Bond for these capabilities – the machines, pin tools and software.”
The RM Series machines are Bond’s most popular machines for research and development facilities and universities. These machines created under the original company Transformation Technologies (TTI), remain the ideal research machine. The RM Machine’s rigid frame work and high torque capabilities make it ideal for welding a wide variety of materials including aluminum, steel and titanium alloys. Low runout spindles are well suited for extending the life of high strength tools such as PCBN and Tungsten.
“Our focus with Friction Stir Welding has been high temperature alloys. We pioneered the use of Polycrystalline Cubic Boron Nitride (PCBN). It is sensitive to fracture with abnormal modes, and requires a very rigid machine,” said Dr. Carl Sorenson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Capstone Program at Brigham Young University. “(Bond) is a world leader in designing rigid machines. (The machine) enables our research department to move forward working with carbon steels, armor steel plates, nickel base super alloys, jet engine alloys and high-pressure steam alloys.”
Additionally, the RM machine allows researchers to acquire data at a very high rate, giving researchers information that otherwise would not be unavailable. The opportunity now exists to develop “in-process quality tools for industry.”
“The forces generated, the torque the spindles produce, temperatures – are all acquired at a higher rate of speed than any other machine in production,” Hofferbert said.
“We’re taking advantage of the very high data acquisition rate on our new Bond machine controller to begin a research program on in-process quality control. It’s new research and we are just getting started,” Sorenson said of research being done at Brigham Young. “Bond has provided support that allows us to then establish our own control algorithms. When we demonstrate that it works, Bond has taken that and implemented it into their own controls.”
This type of in-process quality control would apply to the nuclear industry, where quality is critical, Sorenson added.
For researchers, the RM machine is such a vital component to successful research and data collection that TWI in the United Kingdom – the very company that originally invented Friction Stir Welding – is using one of the original TTI research machines to this day.
“Bond has excellent machine designers. Their machines do what they say they will do. They have excellent control engineers who are interested in making a better controller,” Sorenson said. “They are always interested in listening to us and implementing what we discover. We request advances in the machine control and they agree to do what they can. Typically, what they do is better than what they initially promised. These advances allow us to experiment with novel control strategies and advance the state of the art in Friction Stir Welding.”
And advancing the state of art in Friction Stir Welding is one of Bond’s main priorities.
“To be able to participate in an emerging technology and become a global leader – honestly, it’s pretty cool,’ said Tim Haynie, CEO of Bond Technologies. “And It’s strategic for us – we’ve been able to move the needle and make a huge impact on the state of the art within FSW, and we want to keep pushing forward.”