Most welders are familiar with the traditional arc welding process of joining metals, but few are yet to start taking advantage of the Friction Stir Welding (FSW) technology. This technology is still relatively new and is gradually gaining popularity. It began back in 1991 as an experiment by Wayne Thomas at the Welding Institute. As at the moment, this technology is mostly used in aerospace applications, but it is slowly gaining some traction in other industries including the automotive industry. It is also used in the shipping industry among other advanced manufacturing where traditional welding is less effective. The NASA space shuttle especially utilizes this technology almost entirely in all their welding works.
FSW is a fairly easy and effective welding process. The welding machine consists of a non-consumable pin or probe attached to a shoulder above. This should move along the joint while rotating at a very high speed and rotating the pin as a result. The movement generates a lot of heat and creates a thermo-mechanical affected zone. However, this heat does not melt the two metals that you are joining, but creates a weld with mechanical properties that joins the two metals. You have to use advanced controls and automation to ensure that the pin maintains a constant high speed and pressure to maximize the mechanical properties of the resultant weld. The technology is ideal for longitudinal as well as circumferential modes.
You should clamp the two workpieces to the machine to ensure they remain static during the process. If you fail to do this, they will not join as strongly as you would like them. Once clapped into place, the probe spins until it comes into contact with the pieces. A servo drive rotates the FSW tool achieving precise speeds. This helps keep the machine durable. The machine then automatically pauses the probe from going further downwards and drills a little bit into the working pieces. It then moves it along the workpieces creating a weld that joins the pieces. As it moves along, it plasticizes the pieces but maintains the heat just below the melting point hence never melts the metal like in arc welding. The result is a quality and strong weld since the metals never heat into a liquid.
It is important to understand how each tool works to achieve the maximum benefit and ensure it lasts for the longest time. The design of the FSW tool determines its longevity. You can optimize this tool further to increase speed for better welding and to keep it in good condition. Use recommended software for automation. As for the clap, a hydraulic module is the best when welding to ensure the workplaces remain firmly in place. You can also make very fine adjustments using this module for a perfect weld. In most cases, an aluminum pin is the best to use in this machine, but you can occasionally use hardened tool steel.
In general, you will save a lot using this technology as it utilizes a lot of non-consumables as opposed to the traditional forms of welding and gets quality and durable welds.