Friction stir welding (FSW) has been used since 2008 at Fundo Wheels in Norway for the production of light-weight aluminium wheels for the Volvo XC 90 Sport Utility Vehcicle. It uses a retractable pin tool developed by NASA for overcoming the need for repairing the end hole of circumferential welds, when welding rockets and tanks of space craft.
MTS manufactured and supplied a friction stir welding machine to Fundo Wheels, an aluminum rim manufacturer in Norway for the production of aluminium wheel rims for the Volvo XC 90 SUV. The machine is used to join two parts of the hybrid rim. The hollow rim consists of a cast aluminum face and a spin formed rim made from an aluminum sheet. The two pieces are friction stir welded by internal and external welds using a retractable pin tool invented at NASA and produced by MTS. By using the retractable pin tool the cycle time was reduced by 70 percent.
The friction stir welded rim is not only stronger, it is also significantly lighter than a conventional rim. For the Volvo XC 90, the weight savings on four wheels are a total of16 kilos. This is a major benefit, because it improves the driving performance of the vehicle and saves a lot aluminium in the production.