High Integrity Fabrication
Proposition: Development and implementation of innovative joining solutions
The High Integrity Fabrication theme delivers innovative research projects to develop fusion and solid state welding technologies for a range of applications in the high value manufacturing sector. Projects prove the capability of joining technologies for a range of difficult to weld materials, and provide a robust capability demonstration before full adoption in a manufacturing environment.
The theme has an extensive array of world-class equipment available to develop and undertake research work in two key technology areas:
- Fusion Welding; including laser materials processing and automated arc welding.
The MTC has the UK’s most powerful fibre laser with a maximum power output of 20kW. Translation of the laser is achieved with a 6-axis 3.5m reach robot, and is complemented with industrial scale work piece manipulation capable of handling components up to several metres in diameter and several tons in weight. A number of different processing heads are used to enable state-of-the-art welding (autogenous and laser GMA hybrid), cladding (wire and powder), hardening, cutting, and brazing (off axis and coaxial).
- Solid State Welding; using precision controlled rotary and linear friction welding.
The High Integrity Fabrication theme has a world leading friction welding capability. Extensive investment has enabled investment in two tri-mode rotary friction welders (125T and 300T) with inertia, direct drive and hybrid capability. These machines have advanced controls, including precision upset and final length control through the application of pressure and torque modulation. Accurate alignment of geometrical features can also be achieved through orientation control. The MTC also has the world’s largest linear friction welding machine, with the benefits of fast cycle times and dissimilar materials joining capability for a range of larger scale cross-sections.
In-house machining, metrology and metallurgy facilities and cross-disciplinary collaboration, with the Intelligent Automation, Manufacturing Simulation and Advanced Tooling and Fixturing themes, ensure the MTC can provide complete manufacturing joining solutions to our clients to promote the development of these solutions through the Manufacturing Capability Readiness Levels (MCRLs).
Projects within the HIF theme begin with ‘weldability’ studies for new material combinations, parameter development, and the demonstration of control, tolerance, and efficiency improvements that can be achieved with state of the art equipment. Once established, the processes are then used to produce full scale, complex geometry components fabricated from inherently difficult to weld materials in pre-production volumes.
Future developments for the theme include increasing the level of automation and process control, to enable real-time feedback control to eliminate defects during welding process, and so reducing rework and scrap. Additionally, both linear friction welding and cladding technologies will be used as an ‘additive’ process to fabricate near net shape components. This novel approach can reduce the use of raw materials, minimise machining time and reduce production costs.