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Design thinking

How friction stir welding can increase design freedom

Are you designing a product that requires long welds? An offshore application where aluminium will help cut your maintenance costs? Here are some tips about how friction stir welding can help you do the job.

Friction stir welding is being used for aluminium applications in industries that include:

  • Rail
  • Shipbuilding
  • Automotive
  • Transportation
  • Power electronics
  • Offshore

Let’s say you want a long and wide aluminium panel, something bigger than the norm. Or a strong and impermeable aluminium frame to protect the batteries in an electric car. Are your design options limited? What are your options?

FSW eliminates melt-type welding problems

Even though friction stir welding (FSW) has been used commercially for at least 20 years, I still find people who are afraid of the technology. But you can trust it. Here’s why.

It generally overcomes problems with porosity and cracking, because FSW is a solid-state joining process and this eliminates melt-type problems. In addition, since the welding takes place at a temperature below the metal’s melting point, the results are minimal heat distortion plus low residual stress levels, making deformation control easier. This is a major reason why the flatness of FSW panels is superior to their fusion-welded equivalents in plate or profiles.

FSW exceeds strength of fusion welds and it is more repeatable than other welding methods. The consistency is higher. No filler material, preheating or shielding gas are used. FSW leaves a neat and clean appearance that normally does not require any rework.

Better than traditional fusion welding

In short, this is what you get with FSW, compared with traditional fusion welding:

  • Increased strength
  • Improved sealing with void-free and leakproof joints
  • Welds flush with the parent material
  • Tight tolerances due to reduced heat distortion

The tensile strength performance of friction stir welded aluminium alloys is superior to fusion welding, with consistently better joint efficiencies. Data also shows that the fatigue performance of the FS welds is superior to that of fusion counterparts.

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to learn more about FSW or about joining similar and dissimilar materials, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the right expert.