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Welding

Taylor-Winfield Technologies is making linear friction welding more accessible

By Lauren Duensing

Above: Linear friction welding can help reduce waste and decrease costs when joining titanium parts.

August 2018 - Solid-state bonding, like linear friction welding, friction stir welding, butt welding and rotary friction welding, joins parts using a forging-type process. With linear friction welding, “we create the heat by friction, and then we create the bond by forge,” says Frank Deley, linear friction welding product manager at Taylor-Winfield Technologies, Youngstown, Ohio. The material gets “to a plastic state, but the goal is to not allow it to get molten and thereby change the grain structure.”

Although linear friction welding has many benefits, including repeatability, minimal material loss and minimal material degradation, right now it’s mainly used in niche, low-production applications, such as welding blades to a disk for jet engines. Historically, linear friction welding equipment has been expensive, large and difficult to maintain, which has stunted widespread implementation of the technology in manufacturing applications.

FFJ 0918 welding image1

There are many major applications where linear friction welding could be effective, such as for joining railroad rails.

Production machines

Taylor-Winfield is helping move linear friction welding out of the lab and onto more shop floors with its new line of advanced linear friction welding machines. The company is an exclusive licensee of APCI LLC’s patented electro/mechanical oscillation technology and incorporates this into its equipment designs.

Taylor-Winfield has worked with material joining technologies since the late 1800s, so when APCI decided to scale up production, it found a suitable partner.

“They were looking for someone that was solid and had a good reputation in welding, and they found us,” says Deley.

According to Katie Denno, Taylor-Winfield’s marketing manager, “Taylor-Winfield has been building machines for a long time. We have history and a good brand reputation, so linear friction welding directly aligns with our core competency of material joining.”

FFJ 0918 welding image2

Because friction occurs across the entire surface, weld times are short and dissimilar materials can be joined. This is an example of copper paired with steel.

During the linear friction welding process, one part oscillates while in contact with a stationary part that moves in, laterally, under controlled pressure, causing the friction and finally the forge. When the action is tightly controlled, it can join dissimilar materials and complex geometries, such as round to round, concave to round, shapes to plate, and tube to tube. It can also produce near-net parts, single parts made up of one or more smaller parts welded together.

“As long as you are able to hold the parts very tightly, you can join basically whatever geometry you want. It doesn’t matter,” says Deley.

In the past, linear friction welding relied on hydraulics to create the oscillation motion. The electro/mechanical oscillation mechanism developed by APCI and featured on Taylor-Winfield’s line of linear friction welders does not require hydraulics, “giving them a smaller footprint and making them less expensive,” Deley says.

“Because we are creating machines that aren’t as complex, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to run them. These are machines that can be used by trained operators. They use very little power, compared to competing equipment, and they are easy to maintain,” he continues.

Taylor-Winfield incorporated smart machine ideas into the process so it can monitor the equipment remotely. Another feature is production-style tooling for quick changeovers. “These machines can be either manually loaded or by robot, so manufacturers can easily process different geometries,” says Deley.

FFJ 0918 welding image3

The lateral motion of the weld eliminates the need for a symmetrical part.

Endless possibilities

Until now, the aerospace industry has been the bread-and-butter for linear friction welding, but there are many applications in the automotive industry that would benefit from the technology— joining aluminum to steel, for example, to achieve a strong, light part.

Because the technology has recently begun to migrate from the lab to select niche markets, “there’s no real book to consult to say, ‘OK, if I’m welding aluminum to steel, which recipe do I use?’” Deley says.

“As an equipment builder, we are figuring it out on our own so we can bring it to the market and help people adapt to this new style of welding,” Denno adds.

Taylor-Winfield creates these recipes in its R&D lab, testing and documenting the weld schedules to help manufacturers learn to achieve a better, stronger solid state bond with linear friction welding. Deley says, “The tough part is convincing [potential machinery buyers] that I can give them a stronger bond than they’re getting right now.”

FFJ 0918 welding image4

To illustrate the possibilities, Taylor-Winfield again turns to its lab work. “We can take our customers’ parts into the lab and demonstrate their options by comparing their parts with linear friction welding versus other welding methods,” Denno notes.

Target markets include energy, aerospace, automotive and transportation. Deley also has received inquiries from medical device makers regarding the joining of smart materials.

Aerospace manufacturers, for example, could reduce the amount of high-cost titanium they need to create an end product. “Right now, they have a ratio of approximately 20 to 1,” Deley says. “We could weld near-net-shape parts and reduce that almost down to 2 to 1 or 4 to 1. And you can take two different dissimilar types of titanium and weld them together, which could make the end parts stronger in tension and stronger in compression with the other material. We have yet to even imagine the total potential of this joining process as a result of this [oscillation] technology.” FFJ

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