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Friction Stir Welding

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It creates a dovetail joint while softening and bonding the surfaces of dissimilar metals like Aluminum and steel.

The first video linked  pay attention at  1:50  to see from above what a marvelous seam it creates.

The tool has little nubs the call scribes the nubs distort the base steel layer while the rotating body of the tool heats everything up making the aluminum a paste and the steel soft enough to form a  mechanical bond at the grain level of the metal



The second video linked is a more graphical explanation



This is what it can look like from the side


friction stir welding.JPG

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Thanks for posting these Cliff. They brought back some memories for me.


Lockheed Martin started to developed this back in the early 90's we eventually built two large machines to friction stir weld the panel/barrel sections on the External Tank for the Space Shuttle. Although the process was invented back somewhere in the 40's no one had ever taken the time to develope it into a production system.


The process was very successful. There we NO weld defects compared to conventional welding methods. No porosity, cracking or inclusions. When we switched to the aluminum lithium alloy, on the last tanks we built, FSW was about the only process that worked. Conventional welding was not reliable and produced too many weld defects because of the alloy.


As you can see in the videos the machines are massive. We tried doing test plates using Bridgeport mills. The pressure on the FSW button was too much for the milling head. We finally built stand alone machines to do developement. When we had the process perfected we built the two machines I mentioned above. We had to build them in a 20' deep pit in order to get the completed barrel sections off of the tooling ( we only had 42' to the bottom of the purlins for height clearance). The pit was roughly 100' L x 60' W x 20' D.


I belive that Boeing followed suit and was using FSW for some of their airplane components.


We built a third machine prior to them terminating the Shuttle program. That machine is being used to weld up the Orion Capsule. You don't hear much about this program, but it was supposed to be the next Manned Space Capsule. I think they did an unmanned test launch a few months ago.


Anyway, I'm glad to see the processes didn't die with the Shuttle Program.

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@schnewj, I love it when you guys talk about your day jobs, many of you guys have or had really unique lives in your careers, thanks for sharing.

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