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November 2006 edition

Advances in Friction Stir Welding for aerospace applications

By Dwight Burford, Christian Widener, and Bryan Tweedy

Friction stir welding (FSW), an innovative solid-state joining technique, is finding greater use in aerospace applications through advances in materials development evaluations, structural design and testing programmes, tooling and process innovations, and standards and specification developments.

To advance FSW from the research stage into direct application, performance and properties data are needed. Therefore, the NIAR in Wichita, Kansas, began a multi-pronged approach to facilitate technology transfer of friction stir welding into production applications. Research programmes are focused on materials evaluations (e.g. corrosion resistance), structures evaluations, weld tool development, and process innovations.

This article is an edited version of the expert paper and summarises the findings that were underpinned by detailed tests whose results were provided and are logged at WSU. A major conclusion is that significant advances continue to be made.


Patented in 1991 by The Welding Institute, Ltd. (TWI), friction stir welding (FSW) is an environmentally friendly, lean manufacturing process with potential for revolutionising the aerospace industry. Eclipse Aviation, for example, has reported dramatic production cost reductions with FSW when compared to other joining technologies.

With the need to continually find methods for reducing manufacturing time, increase reliability, and decrease costs, FSW is one technology that aerospace manufacturers cannot aff....

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National Institute for Aviation Research Certification Services, Fatigue Testing, Computer-aided Testing, Prototyping, Computer-aided Analysis, Aerodynamic Test Services, Composite Testing Services, Corrosion Testing Services, Fracture Testing Services, Non-Destructive Testing, Inspection Service, Electromagnetic Test Services, Environmental Testing Services, Stress Analysis
Universal Alloy Corporation Metal & Alloy Extrusions
TWI Ltd Non-Destructive Testing, Technical/Eng/Scientific Studies, Metallurgical Testing, Training, Failure Investigation, Friction Stir Welding, Composite Design Consultants

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