With the intense focus on lightweighting across multiple industries, we established a Solid State Joining Center at our Coldwater facility, where we focus on the development of joining technologies for lightweight and dissimilar materials such as aluminum, magnesium and composites. Solid state joining processes enables joining of materials at temperatures below their melting point and without the addition of filler metal or shielding gases. The metals being joined retain their original properties without the heat-affected zone problems involved when there is base metal melting.
Our Solid State Joining Center also houses a Materials Evaluation and Testing (MET) lab that provides microstructural evaluation in addition to mechanical testing for weld tensile and hardness verification. This on-site service provides prompt verification of weld integrity, enabling us to shorten the development time for laser, solid state and arc welding customers.
At the same time, we have deep experience with traditional MIG and resistance welding technologies. We have designed and produced automated weld cells using fiber lasers, CO2 lasers, MIG (GMAW) and friction solutions.
Friction welding, a solid state technology, creates mechanical friction between workpieces, heating the materials until they reach a plastic state (non-melting) at the joint interface. The materials are then forged together by force, creating a joint. Friction welded joints offers numerous benefits over other joining techniques including elimination of filler metal or flux, higher quality joints, a very small heat affected zone, and no coarse grain formations.
A proven joining methodology, friction welding can be applied as friction spin (or rotary) welding, linear friction stir welding (LFSW or FSW) or refill friction stir spot welding (RFSSW), as well as multiple variants of each approach. While most rotary friction welding is used on round, symmetrical parts, linear friction stir welding and RFSSW are key solutions for the future of aluminum joining allowing solid state welds on a wider range of part geometries.
A major advantage of friction welding is that it allows dissimilar materials to be joined. In fact, nearly half of the welds made through friction welding are for joining of dissimilar materials. Normally the wide difference in melting points of the two materials would make it impossible to weld using traditional techniques and would require some sort of mechanical connection. Friction welding provides a “full strength” bond nearly that of the parent metal with no additional weight.
Our SpinMeld™ rotary friction welding (RFW) systems provide an alternative to drawn arc stud or projection welding, or MIG and TIG for thicker components. These systems are well-suited to the ongoing trend of lightweighting as they eliminate the need for filler materials and can join steels, aluminum, cast or sintered metals, magnesium, molybdenum and a wide variety of mixed metal combinations.
As compared to alternative joining processes, SpinMeld systems offers significant advantages: The process is extremely quick, inexpensive, eliminates the need for consumables, provides in-process monitoring for quality assurance, and due to its solid-state nature allows the parts being joined to retain properties close to those of the parent materials. Shafts, valve bodies, pistons, brackets and airbag inflators are just some of the components well-suited for SpinMeld production.
In 2014, our Coldwater facility announced its SpotMeld RFSSW solution, based upon technology developed and patented by Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany. As a variant of friction stir welding, RFSSW has become a focus as a solution for spot welding aluminum and dissimilar materials. We’ve had success in spot welding aluminum (1000 – 7000 series), magnesium, non-ferrous and dissimilar sheet materials, making SpotMeld a viable alternative to single-point joining processes like resistance spot welding, laser welding and riveting especially for the future EV market.
Our Solid-State Joining Center is focused on furthering the development of processes that enable the joining of materials at temperatures below their melting point and without the addition of filler metal or shielding gases. We are partners with the Edison Welding Institute and LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) where our SpotMeld systems are being used for friction welding research.
As a manufacturing and collaboration partner with Ohio State, our team is helping to commercialize the University’s Vaporizing Foil Actuator Welding (VFAW) technology, developing and providing an automated pedestal system for VFAW. Based on explosion welding, but at a reduced and more management scale, the VFAW process relies upon an aluminum foil actuator that is electrically vaporized by means of a capacitor bank. This rapid vaporization generates a high-pressure pulse, which drives one metallic workpiece toward the other at extremely high speeds with the resulting impact causing the metals to weld together, forming an atomic bond upon contact. The technique uses less energy than resistance welding yet creates stronger bonds.
The VFAW process was invented and patented by Ohio State in 2012. To date, the engineers at OSU have successfully bonded different combinations of copper, aluminum, magnesium, iron, nickel and titanium.
Through our Solid-State Joining Center, we provide pre-production, prototype and low volume friction welding and refill friction stir spot welding part production using our in-house SpinMeld and SpotMeld systems. We can run a variety of materials and components that are round, hex or symmetric shaped such as standard nut, flange nut, stud or flat.
We can also work to produce custom parts that make use of advanced joining technology as well as apply a new joining solution to your existing parts. Provide some of the information below and we’ll contact you for more details and start the process with your team.