Symposium at TWI celebrates 25 years of friction stir welding


The 11th International Symposium on Friction Stir Welding (FSW), marking 25 years since the invention of the process, took place last month at TWI in Cambridge. Held for the first time in the UK, the symposium was organised by the FSW Users Group and attracted over 200 delegates from 28 different countries.


Christoph Wiesner, Chief Executive, TWI gave the opening welcome for the event, and this was followed with presentations from friction stir welding expert Mike Russell, also from TWI, and the inventor of friction stir welding Wayne Thomas.                                          

Brent Christner, Eclipse Aerospace, then spoke about the development of the first friction stir welded jet aircraft, the Eclipse 500, later unveiling one of four prototype planes put forward for Federal Aviation Administration approval.The N504EA was donated to TWI by Eclipse Aerospace and professionally restored for display by Marshall Aviation Services.

The technical programme for the three days contained 90 papers of process developments, presented by specialists in all aspects of friction stir welding technology; there was also an excellent poster display. Of particular note in the programme were:

Applications. How FSW is being applied to rail car body fabrication, LNG tank construction and Aerospace including space propellant tanks and components in the European Ariane space programme.

Robotics.Techniques for welding 3D components including stationary shoulder FSW, new machine concepts and tool path trajectory corrections.

High temperature materials. Developments in tool technology, difficult to weld materials such as ODS alloys and several papers of joining of titanium alloys.

Techniques. Stationary shoulder FSW a technique of growing interest, tailored blanks, ultrasonic assisted FSW and friction channelling as a potential solution for producing internal cooling passages.

Process control. The use of ‘temperature’ feedback as a means of understanding and adaptively controlling the FSW process.

Weld inspection. In process / real time assessment of the weld and also resulting forces as a means of prediction of weld quality. Weld quality assessment and predictive systems are needed as FSW continues to penetrate into industry.

Modelling. A variety of theoretical models to aid the understanding of different FSW techniques and tooling.

The 11th International Symposium also included the first meeting of the FSW Users Group and a social event at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, under the wing of Concorde. It concluded with a full tour of the new facilities at TWI with demonstrations of friction processing, electron beam technology, non-destructive testing, surface engineering, laser technologies, additive manufacturing and TWI training and support services. Of great interest was a demonstration by Kawasaki Heavy Industries of its Refill Friction Spot Joining (RFSJ) robotic system, installed at TWI for research and development. Other exhibits on display included a Tesla Car, the Apple iMac and a section of a London Underground train carriage donated by Bombardier (Derby, UK).


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