Symposium at TWI marks 25 years of friction-stir welding

June 8, 2016
The 11th International Symposium on Friction Stir Welding (FSW) took place May 17-19, 2016 at TWI.

The 11th International Symposium on Friction Stir Welding (FSW), marking 25 years since the invention of the process, took place May 17-19, 2016 at materials joining and engineering technologies consulting firm TWI (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England). Held for the first time in the UK, the symposium was organized by the FSW Users Group and attracted over 200 delegates from 28 different countries.

Christoph Wiesner, TWI's CEO, gave the opening welcome address for the event, followed by presentations from FSW expert Mike Russell (also from TWI) and FSW inventor Wayne Thomas.

Brent Christner of Eclipse Aerospace (Albuquerque, NM) 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 technical program for the three days contained 90 papers on process developments, presented by specialists in all aspects of FSW technology. Topics of note included:

  • 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 program;
  • Techniques for welding 3D components, including stationary shoulder FSW, new machine concepts, and tool path trajectory corrections;
  • Developments in tool technology, difficult-to-weld materials such as ODS alloys, and several papers of joining of titanium alloys;
  • Stationary shoulder FSW (a technique of growing interest), tailored blanks, ultrasonic-assisted FSW, and friction channeling as a potential solution for producing internal cooling passages;
  • The use of temperature feedback as a means of understanding and adaptively controlling the FSW process;
  • 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); and
  • 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 the 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, Derbyshire, England).

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