World's largest linear friction welding machine

Developers claim to have created the world's largest linear friction welding machine, capable of welding a suface area of 10.000mm2 - nearly twice as much as previously achieved – and which breaks the record of weld forge load at 100tonnes.

Moog and Thompson Friction Welding have collaborated on the E100 machine and control system, designed to extend the use of linear friction welding (lfw) in the automotive and aerospace industries. The technology could be used to produce components such as vehicle flooring and securing the blades on jet engines.

According to both companies, the E100 is a breakthrough as friction welding technology has never been used before over such a wide operating envelope. It incorporates automated handling systems and rapid machine open/close features, which cut production cycle times when compared to manual operations, while recharging of the accumulators takes around 30 seconds for the largest and longest welds.

The E100 now opens up new possibilities for welded fabrication of parts that previously needed to be machined from solid metal, a process that can result in up to 80% material waste. According to Thompson, the technology is set to transform how jet engines are manufactured by cutting production cycle-times and dramatically reducing waste of expensive materials such as titanium.

Thompson manufactured the E100 at its UK facility and found the perfect development partner in Moog with the requisite expertise in hydraulics, servo system design, control engineering and manufacturing.

Steve Darnell, regional business manager, for North West Europe, said: "The machine weighs 100tonnes, is 2.5m tall and has a huge capacity of 100tonnes in terms of the amount of force that it can apply to a welded joint. This demanded a suitably high performance hydraulic servo system to be designed and built by Moog."

According to Darnell, the benefits of pre-form manufacturing by linear friction welding are numerous. The process, sometimes known as solid-base additive manufacture, allows complex shapes to be manufactured without the wastage of excess material normally associated with machining from solid block, casting or forging, saving both manufacturing time and raw material costs. Manufactured parts are close to the final shape so that very little final machining is required to produce a fully functional component.

For more on friction welding, see the Feb 10 issue of Eureka

Chris Shaw

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