Within the framework of the AiF-funded research project “Click&Weld” a computer- and knowledge-based operating concept will be developed. This will be compareable to state of the art CAM systems used, for instance in metal-cutting manufacturing.
Currently, Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is predominantly employed by large companies, which can afford to maintain special departments with adequate joining technology knowledge. Additionally, some companies within the German market provide specialized contract work to manufacture or join parts using FSW. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) make up 99% of all German companies, yet they play only a minor role in the commercial use of FSW. One of the primary reasons for this is a lack of expertise in the field of FSW. However, the recent expiration of the FSW patent in 2015 and the subsequent elimination of license fees, as well as the rising demand of aluminium as a structural material in lightweight applications have increased the attractiveness of FSW within SME.
To raise the competitiveness of the FSW process, an innovating operating system will be developed. The CAM software, including a knowledge pool, will assist users through path planning, parameter selection, program creation and verification of the welding seam. The FSW process expertise has to be edited and will be automatically provided to the users through a process database. In this way, it will be possible to join complex geometries quickly and reliably. Furthermore, the system will be able to assess the welding seam quality using the measured process-values (force, torque, temperature).
To accumulate the necessary process knowledge for the database, the relations between process parameters, - values and seam quality will be modelled empirically and provided in the database. Furthermore, the project partner will develop a user-friendly CAM software that can be used to program the welding systems. Lastly a method for the efficient adaptation and extension of the database to further materials and sheet thicknesses will be developed.
Results and Use
A simplified handling procedure is one of the planned basic achievements. The down time, which is expensive and caused by the time-consuming selection of suitable welding parameters, for example when changing a workpiece or weld geometry, can be reduced. Thus, SMEs will be able to offer parts, e.g. produced in small batches, at economical prices.
The IGF project 19389 N of the German Welding Society e.V. is funded by the AiF within the framework of the program for the promotion of industrial joint research (IGF) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag.