This article explains some of the latest innovations in welding which are used for hi-tech applications across various industries
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We have already learnt about welding in our previous articles and know that how this technique can be used to join metals in a strong and effective manner. The strength of a weld is such that it can withstand lots of stress and strain. Welding has been around for quite some time, and in this article we will study the latest trends in welding and how the techniques have changed over a period of time.
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For most people, the very mention of the word welding brings to his/her mind the image of a person wrapped in mysterious looking clothes, with a protective shield on his face, and holding a hot rod emitting light and heat. Well, this is true to date, and this most basic form of electric welding is still used in smaller works. But in most of the industries welding is just not the same.
There are so many types of welding that it is not possible to describe every type in detail in a single article, but still I will try to paint a vivid picture of the latest trends. Firstly where do you think will you find the latest technology out of these locations – a small workshop, a DIY amateur welder, or in the aerospace industry? Well, I am sure this question does not require much thought to answer.
Since machinery such as aircraft, helicopters, submarines, and spacecraft are the ones which require the most sophisticated technology, one would certainly expect to find the latest techniques and technology in these sectors.
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Weight reduction is extremely important for the aviation and space sectors. It requires approximately twenty thousand dollars for every extra pound of weight that a spacecraft carries with it. Welding rather than other techniques such as riveting may save weight, so its importance can be well understood.
Of course welding is not the only means employed to reduce weight, but is among a few techniques such as the production of lighter, stronger metals and so forth. Techniques such as laser welding are used in hi-tech production units because these have very low distortion rates coupled with a high degree of strength and a flexibility of operation. Of course, the speed of these techniques is such that the entire mechanism needs to be automated since the rate of response is quicker than any normal human reflexes could handle.
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Friction Stir Welding
Friction stir welding or FSW is one the latest methods of welding and mostly deployed for spacecraft and aeroplanes. One of the biggest disadvantages of traditional welding is the use of intense heat which completely melts the metals causing them to fuse together and form the joint. This is not suitable for sensitive materials used in the aerospace industries, and hence a technique is required which uses low heat and does not melt the parts.
If you see the diagram below, you will see how the moving part creates frictional heat which brings the metals very near to their melting point and joins them together. This is a unique style and is readily used in delicate situations. The picture on the right below shows an actual FSW machine used in industry.
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Another trend which was predicted as early as the year 1997 in Auto, Incis certainly seeing the light of the day. It is the use of low frequency TIG welding mainly due to the use of lighter metals in manufacturing. Tungsten Inert Gas welding is basically about the use of inert gas which shields a tungsten electrode which is non-consumable.
In fact, the above few techniques are only the tip of the iceberg and we will talk more about these trends in some of our later articles.
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References and Image Credits
New Trends in Welding in the Aeronautic Industry- Research Paper by P.F. Mendez and presented at a conference in Spain
Welding Trends in 21st Century. An article published in Auto Inc. Magazine, Vol. XLV No. 3, March 1997 by C. Harler.