Friction Stir Welding Comes to UAH

Recently, the Rotorcraft Center obtained licensing for the Friction Stir Welding (FSW) process from The Welding Institute (TWI) and began pursuing this capability in house. RSESC has worked to demonstrate FSW on campus with the goal of producing weld articles in order to:

  • Study process parameters and their influence on flaws in FSW
  • Develop flaw specimens for evaluating NDE methods
  • Test material properties in welds
  • Demonstrate this cutting edge technology to graduate and undergraduate students

An underutilized milling machine was identified for conversion to an FSW machine and a pin tool was designed, built, and integrated into the machine. On the morning of October 21st, 2009, a first attempt was made to join two plates using FSW.

This test met the Rotorcraft Center’s success criteria by successfully joining two 6064-T6 plates of ¼” thickness. Researchers identified several possible improvements to the machine setup during operation, and are currently implementing these changes. The updated machine should provide for welds with fewer flaws and eventually process control.