WP 3

Objectives

  • Design and construction of an equipment, capable of generating orbital friction welds with a high degree of reproducibility that meets the operational needs of the rail industry.
  • Design and construction of control systems in order to automate and accurately control the weld cycle.
  • Design and construction of instrumentation to record process cycle parameters.
  • Execution of trials with the equipment to confirm and validate the systems integration.
  • Development of detailed specifications of the equipment similar to industrial application machiery, required to carry out the welding process.

Achievements

A revolutionary concept in orbital friction welding has moved from being a theoretical concept and into a large scale industrial machine, and one of the largest in Europe.

In doing so WRIST has delivered to industry a revolutionary enabling technology which will in turn offer new freedoms and opportunities for designing and manufacturing components across industry from railways to aeroplanes, space launching vehicles, components for car engines, etc.

WRIST has successfully designed and built the machine and are in the process of trialing the machinery before undertaking the full programme of producing the large number of test welds under varying conditions necessary to characterise the weld process and validate it for the principal application which is the welding of high performance bainitic railway rails, which cannot be successfully welded together by any other process.

The revolutionary process welds components together by friction, but the components are stationary, so long or large components can easily be welded together. There are no vibrations or movement of the joined parts during the welding process.

The friction welding process is the first one to achieve a uniform friction process over the entire cross section, without the need for reciprocating or rotating parts, and vibration free, and because the process is continuous and smooth over time without any reciprocating vibrations, the friction weld is achieved more efficiently with less energy and uniformly over the entire cross section, making for more uniform and higher quality welds.

There have been numerous other technological innovations in the process of developing the machine which in themselves can be useful for industry such as special oil seals and the design of the bearings. A special gear box was also designed to meet the needs of the machine core.