KUKA expands friction welding facility


Renowned inventor and product designer Sir James Dyson once described manufacturing as more than just putting parts together: “It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering.” It’s a view shared by advanced welding systems supplier, KUKA, who recognises the growing demands placed on engineering capabilities by manufacturers keen to fully exploit the potential of the smart factory. 

Smarter manufacturing solutions need to be developed to match the expectation from producers that high-quality products can be made faster with less materials and manpower. The analysis and selection of materials are critical in avoiding product failure and repeating mistakes, it believes. If a quality problem is only determined at the end of the process, it’s often too late to remedy. All the value has been added by this point and the cost of rework or scrap is very high.

As part of a new investment programme to underline its recognition of the important role of materials science in the specification and design of products, KUKA has expanded its established, sub contract friction welding facility with the addition of an on-site metallurgy consultancy.

Experienced metallurgist Professor Kameel Sawalha has moved his independent laboratory business, Aston Microscopy & Engineering, from Aston University to KUKA’s premises at Halesowen where it joins a wide variety of components using the friction welding method. He is a fellow and chartered engineer and holds a BSc degree in mechanical and production engineering (Napier University), MSc in manufacturing system engineering (Warwick) and a PhD in materials engineering (Aston). In addition, Prof. Sawalha has published numerous scientific papers and has been a visiting professor of material at a number of academic institutions.

He examines and reports on the integrity of welds performed by the friction welding technique, a cost-effective, accurate and repeatable joining method that achieves parent material bonds with no requirement for third-party consumables such as filler, wire or gas. His metallurgical investigations range from straightforward elemental analysis to in-depth studies of failure or fracture mechanisms. He also offers materials selection advice, assessing their suitability for friction welding and recommending improvements where appropriate.

In fact, more component makers in industries as diverse as aerospace, automotive, construction machine and mineral exploration are turning to friction welding to help combat rising raw material costs.

“Some of our smarter manufacturing solutions involve the development of new weld parameters for the joining process. This generally results in significant savings as we’re able to reduce the amount of material consumed,” explained Jayne Shimwell, KUKA’s technical services manager.

The facility’s many success stories include the achievement of a £175,000 annual saving for a customer who produced 200,000 steel tubes a year. KUKA’s sub contract team created new weld parameters that used 10mm less steel per component.

“Extending our array of sub contract services with an on-site metallurgy consultancy ensures we can provide a comprehensive resource for manufacturers on all aspects of friction welding metallurgy and weldability,” said Jayne.

For more information about KUKA’s services or to discuss requirements, email subcontract@kuka-systems.co.uk or phone 0121 585 0888.



About Author

Comments are closed.