North American Manufacturers Embrace Friction Welding

KUKA Systems and its sister company's friction welding systems are proving increasingly important in the manufacturing industry with their almost limitless applications.

Automotive and other manufacturers have a strong interest in incorporating more lighter weight, bimetallic components into their products. It’s the way of the future, and it’s fuelling North American demand for advanced friction welding systems like those from KUKA Systems North America LLC (Sterling Heights, MI) and sister company Thompson Friction Welding.

Much of the rising demand for friction welding systems comes from an awareness among manufacturers, especially vehicle and heavy equipment OEMs, who believe that it’s the best method to join similar and dissimilar metals,” says Robert Giaier, director, KUKA Systems North America.

Combining metals lightens driveline components in vehicles, from the family car to the largest mining, construction and agricultural equipment,” adds Giaier. “Maximizing the use of lighter weight components is key to meeting more stringent government fuel efficiency standards.”

Among joining methods, friction welding is a highly efficient process to produce those components. Users enjoy substantial material savings as well as superior quality. No additional material or heat sources are used for the weld, which has workplace safety and environmental benefits.

The potential applications are almost limitless – engine valves, aluminum shock absorbers, aircraft engine turbines, drill pipes, hydraulic components, printing rollers, cross members and much, much more can be constructed using friction welding

KUKA and Thompson each has a history of innovation in friction welding dating back almost half a century. KUKA developed its first friction welding system in 1966, and followed with innovations like short-cycle and defined-angle friction welding.

Today, its portfolio of rotational machines is ideal for joining round shapes. “Our state-of-the-art friction welding machines are faster, more efficient, more precise than ever and produce a very high quality weld,” says Giaier. They are available with a maximum forge force ranging from 20 kN (2.039 tons-force) to 10,000 kN (1,020 tons-force).

Linear friction welding machines like Thompson’s E100, the world’s largest, are used widely in the aerospace industry but also offer significant benefits for general industry. Linear friction welding, where the surface of one opposing piece oscillates rather than rotates under pressure against the stationary piece to create friction, is predominately used for non-round parts. Thompson has linear machines in sizes from 10 to 150 tons, available in a longitudinal or cubic design.


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