Friction-stir-welding

I was introduced to frictional stir welding with this story about this interesting new mini jet that is now in production.
This jet weighs less than a full sized SUV, carries 6 passingers, has two little jet engines that sip fuel, can still fly and even climb on just one engine, can land on 10,000 airstrips in the USA. Anyhow I wanted to bring attention to how the aircrafts skin is put together. No rivets. If I understand this correctly the only heat involved is that produced by a little spinning probe that comes into contact at the seam of the two thin aluminum sheets to be joined....then it's...well...."stirred" together !!?
It's hard to believe that this welding process works. Evidently it works and works well.
http://www.eclipseaviation.com/about_eclipse/innovations/friction_stir_welding /
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GatherNoMoss wrote:

I think FSW was 1st used on plastics, there are a few bizarre (at 1st look) welding methods.
I like the one where 2 pieces are pressed together and then slid back-and-forth against each other (another friction welding process)
D
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Caterpillar has used a similar process for many years. Their pre-combustion chambers are made in 2 pieces, then spun is opposite directioms and jammed together. Wham--instant weld. Walt

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That sounds like friction welding which has been around in production for many decades. Often used for welding ends on cars axles, before that for more esoteric processes until it filtered down to the mainstream production environment.
E. Walter Le Roy wrote:

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Any amount of info here
http://www.twi.co.uk
(was The Welding Institute; in the UK)
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Back when I was a wee youngster, a battery (2 C batteries, not included) powered widget shaped more or less like a drill, and a box of plastic parts was sold as "The SpinWelder". Plastic rod on drill thing, plastic parts together, spin 'er up, apply rod, watch friction heat things up enough to melt and fuse, and before you know it, you're running a bead - only it's in plastic.
If my memory of the smell is correct, it was working in plate (as opposed to foamed) polystyrene, and it worked *QUITE* well. It even looked like a real metal weld.
I can see it being equally functional in metal, although possibly requiring slightly more "oomph" than a couple of C batteries can supply :)
--
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Airbus is using it: http://www.aluminum.org/Template.cfm?Section=Home&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID 21
And so is Boeing: http://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2004/september/i_tt.html
It's been around awhile.
Dan
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GatherNoMoss wrote:

Anyone that has run a drill too fast in aluminum has seen a version of friction stir welding. Friction stir welding is the strongest weld as compared with any of the other aluminum welding techniques. Since no air can get to the metal, there is no weld contamination. I believe the space shuttle fuel tanks are FSW welded.
The two seams are butted together and a mandrel running at high speed at a slight angle is moved up the seam. You could probably produce acceptable results in a sturdy mill like a cinci with a stainless bar for the tool.
There were several good articles on FSW in some welding mags. a while ago.
John
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FSW is today also made by parts from a USA based company, Megastir, ( http://www.megastir.com/ )
Roger Andersson Swedish Tool & Die Technology

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GatherNoMoss wrote:

YEA. Saw a demo at EAA a couple of years ago. Done on a Bridgeport with nothing but a small steel rod in the spindle. Even have a sample peice they were handing out. Quite AMAZING. :-) I havent gotten a (roundtuit) trying it myself yet. It was by Eclipse and they are in Abq now. Wish I had a "connection" there to get a look at the factory. ...lew...
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