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 

Published Industrial Applications of FSW in the Automotive Industry

The following applictions of using friction stir welding or friction stir spot welding in the automotive industry have been published:

  • 2020 Tesla Model Y (Octovalve and battery box)[9][10]
  • 2018 Morgan Aero 8 (Complex HFQ® panel with variable tailored thickness of 3-2-3mm)[5][6]
  • 2013 Honda Accord (front subframe)[1]
  • 2012 Mercedes SL - R231 (tailor welded blank and three box profiled floor sections on each side of the transmission tunnel)[4][7]
  • 2012 Land Rover L405 (subframe mounts)[4]
  • 2011 McLaren 12 C (structural part)[2]
  • 2010 Toyota Prius (rear hatch)[1]
  • 2008 Delphi Automotive (sealed enclosures and heat exchangers for BMW and Chrysler)[14]
  • 2007 Riftec for Audi (B-pillar of Audi R8 Spyder)[1][15]
  • 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata (trunk and hood)[1]
  • 2005 Ford GT (part of space frame)[1]
  • 2005 Pierburg (EGR cooler)[11]
  • 2004 Mazda RX-8 (rear doors and hood)[1][8]
  • 2003 Panoz Esperante (structural part)[3]
  • 2003 Lincoln Town Car L (suspension components)[1]
  • 2001 Volvo V70 (rear seat frame)[1]

Significant FSW Development Studies in the Automotive Sector

2003 Eliica  (Electric Lithium-Ion battery Car) by Keio University 

© AnetodeCC BY-SA 3.0

References

  1. K.C. Colwell: Two Metals Enter, One Leaves: The Miracle of Friction Stir Welding. Expect to see more of this technique used in vehicle construction moving forward. 15 May 2013.
      
  2. Kuka: Component, Cell, Solution & Service from one Single Source.
      
  3. C.B. Smith, J.F. Heinrichs, W. A. Crusan (Friction Stir Link) and J. Levereett (Panoz Auto Development): FSW stirs up welding process competition. 2003. 
       
  4. Energy regeneration systems Friction Stir Welding new technology and repairability. Thatcham Insight - Automotive insight for Members, No.5, January 2013.
       
  5. TWI combines heritage with innovation for the Morgan Motor Company. 17 July 2018.
       
  6. HFQ® Friction Stir Welded (FSW) Cross Member.
       
  7. Amarilys Ben Attar: FSW Generalities and activities at Institut de Soudure.
       
  8. John Sprovieri: Friction Stir Spot Welding. Assembly Mag, 7 April 2016. 
     
  9. Munro Live: Model Y, E(pisode) 23 - Octovalve Manufacturing Processes, HVAC Summary, 3D Printing, Patreon Giveaway.
       
  10. Lynn Brown: Dismantling and Analysis of Vehicles to Develop Optimal Applications. 25 February 2019.
       
  11. Success Story, 3D friction stir welding and deburring of complex aluminium die-cast components, Pierburg AG.   
       
  12. Uwe Krawinkel & Oliver Thomer: Friction stir welded exhaust gas recirculation coolers. ATZproduktion worldwide, volume 2, 2019, p14–17.
       
  13. Mazda Develops World's First Steel and Aluminum Joining Technology Using Friction Heat. 2 June 2005.
       
  14. Welding method yields leakproof joints - Delphi Automotive. Automotive News, 14 October 2013, p. 34.

  15. Axel Meyer: Lightweighting Technology Selection Based on a Material and Process Benchmark - An Aluminium Extrusion Case Study Successfullly Transferred into Series Production. Automotive Lightweight Procurement Symposium, 5-7 October 2014 in Düsseldorf.
       
  16. A. F. von Strombeck, Rührreibschweißen von Hohlkammerprofilen. Lightweight Design 6,  2012, p. 44–47.