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Friction Stir Welding

Friction stir welding is a welding process invented by TWI in 1991. The process involves a spinning tool, in contact with the material to be welded, with sufficient down force to create frictional heat in the material (about 80% of the material's melting point). This causes the material to become soft, allowing the spinning tool to create the weld.

Friction stir welding is now widely used in the aerospace, automotive, rail and ship building industries.

LowStir Friction Stir Welder

Unlike other friction stir welders, the LowStir friction stir welding system includes a unit that attaches to most standard milling machines via an ISO taper, making it an affordable option to smaller enterprises. It is supplied with software to calibrate the system, monitor the welding process and log welding parameters for later analysis. The LowStir system, developed following a European funded research project involving TWI, Fatronik, Applied Measurements Ltd, Sigmapi Systems Ltd and Suffolk Precision Ltd, is now manufactured and marketed by the LowStir Consortium (the latter four companies listed - see Who We Are).

How friction stir welding works




LowStir Mk.1 unit in action

LowStir Mk.1 Unit

The original LowStir unit was a great success, combining high levels of cost and energy efficiency with strong, reliable welds. Like all friction stir welding, the LowStir provided a quicker, easier, and more efficient process than traditional arc welding. Unlike other friction stir welders, LowStir converted existing equipment, for the first time allowing small and mid-sized businesses to experience these benefits at a fraction of the cost of other friction stir welders.

Unlike the wireless LowStir Mk.2, the LowStir Mk.1 unit was physically cabled to the monitoring computer, requiring two bulky communications modules, as well as a substantial supporting structure to keep the cable out of the area of operation. Since this was proving slightly impractical in certain situations, work began on the current version of the LowStir system - a completely wireless system with the same efficiency and low cost as the Mk.1 system.

For more details of the current LowStir system, please see the Product page.

Best viewed with Mozilla Firefox   Last updated 06-July-2010