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Largest Linear Friction Welding Machine in North America Under Development

The technology is designed for joining dissimilar metal parts and will be used for lightweight metals research.

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Manufacturing Technology Inc. (MTI) is developing what it says will be North America’s largest linear friction welder in terms of force capacity and tooling envelope, and deliver it to LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) in Detroit, Michigan, for use in lightweight metals research and development projects.

The LF35-75 welder, currently under development and set for completion in 2018, will be housed in LIFT’s Corktown manufacturing center. The machine will bring the same linear friction welding technology used in aerospace to achieve lightweighting in blisks and Integrally Bladed Rotors (IBR) in aircraft engines.

MTI President Dan Adams says that this machine is so important to the field that his company has entered a cost-sharing agreement with LIFT for greater industry accessibility.

LIFT, one of the founding members of Manufacturing USA, part of the U.S. government’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation program, is a public-private partnership designed to help develop and deploy advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implement education and training programs. Acquiring this machine is part of a recent $50 million investment in the shared manufacturing facility of LIFT and IACMI (The Composites Institute). The machine will be able to weld full-size demonstrator parts.

Linear friction welding, a young technology within the automotive market, is gaining momentum with the increased need for lightweighting and advanced alloy utilization combined with decreasing capital costs, according to MTI. Applications within the automotive market that are currently being investigated or developed using the technology include structural components such as chassis and doors made of metallic alloys. Additional applications include energy absorption components such as crash cans, which generally involve a tubular structure joined to a plate structure. Other applications may also include any other joint of two dissimilar, non-axisymmetric metallic components of the same or different metals that need to be joined. 

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