FSW was developed for welding aluminium alloys, offering a superior and consistent weld quality in all grades. First adopted by shipbuilding for prefabrication of deck and panel modules, niche commercial applications now exist in most industries.
Friction Stir Welding is a solid state welding process in which the welding temperature is typically 70-80% of the melting point of the material being joined. Therefore no molten weld pool is developed. As no melting occurs, FSW this permits the 2xxx and 7xxx series’ of aluminium alloys to be welded. These alloys can be difficult, or in some cases impossible to join with conventional fusion welding because of their solidification characteristics. Welds in these more difficult to join alloys can be routinely produced (with good mechanical properties and freedom from weld flaws) using FSW, which is a continuous, machine tool based process.
Hot Form Quench (HFQ) is a pioneering technology that allows stronger structural aluminium panels to be formed for use in the automotive and transport sectors. HFQ technology provides a cost-competitive means of producing lightweight, complex aluminium components, opening the door to a new generation of solutions for the automotive, aerospace and rail industries. The production of lighter, stronger and more sophisticated structures in aluminium than has been possible to date creates new opportunities for car manufacturers and others to improve the performance of their vehicles while reducing their carbon footprint.
The combination of HFQ and FSW provides new opportunities for both technologies, to achieve the ultimate of formability and welding strength of aluminium alloys. Currently complex parts are formed separately and then joined. With LightBlank such parts will be joined as blanks and then formed, removing expenditure on complex fixtures, press tooling and machining for final assembly and reducing waste material.