FSW in the Automotive Industry


Friction Stir Welding is used in the automotive industry by many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers.

 

One of the earliest developments in this sectors addressed friction stir welding of 'Tailor Welded Blanks' in 1999 (see video).


Tailor Welded Blanks are flat metal sheets, which first welded flat from dissimilar materials or varying thicknesses, and subsequently deep-formed to make automotive body panels. In a Group Sponsored Project at EWI in Columbus, Ohio, and TWI in Cambridge, UK, the companies BMW, DaimlerChrysler, GM, Ford, Rover, Tower Automotive and Volvo investigated 1999 friction stir welding for making blanks by welding thin Sheets to thick sheets. 

 

Sheets of 1.5 mm and 3.0mm thickness were clamped side by side onto an jig, which was tilted by 9°. They were welded by a rotating tool, of which the axis was also tilted by 9°. With the large, modular FSW machine FW22 at TWIO the door inner Panels of car doors were welded in a laboratory environment. These were subsequently deepformed at BMW. They were 1,5 kg or 30 % lighter than a conventional steel.

 

Applications to passenger cars:

  • Boot lids and doors in Japanese cars
  • Wheel rims in Australia, China and Norway
  • Battery Tubs in French and German electric car

In lorries: 

  • Tippers and tail gates
  • Telescopic cranes and ladders of fire engines
  • Tanks of articulated silo trailers