Thompson friction welding machines, built by KUKA in The Black Country UK
KUKA offers a range of compact and modular Thompson friction welding machines with forge capacities up to 400T for the flexible implementation of friction welding processes, of a wide range of material combinations and components. But, why do our customers return again and again…?
Here we asked Jamie Brighton, AWS Sales Engineer and KUKA brand ambassador, what expertise and heritage do we draw upon that position us as a global leader in the provision of high quality, reliable and, technically advanced rotary friction welding solutions.
K: Why do our customers choose rotary friction welding, over traditional welding methods?
J: There are many advantages to rotary friction welding – A solid state joining process, RFW generates the strongest form of bond and supports 100% maximum repeatability of bond between materials. KUKA’s control software on a Thompson friction welding machine dictates that each weld is created using specific parameters, to ensure a 100% bond is created at every weld. Each weld is precisely monitored using quality control software which reduces checking and testing.
Rotary friction welding is a method used to join many different types of materials. There are many, many material combinations and KUKA is always willing to try new recipes as part of our ongoing development programme. With friction welding, there is no need for any consumables or external heat/flux. This also means friction welding is friendly to the environment creating no harmful fumes or gases.
Minimal preparation is required for friction welding. Using our pre-bond method, we can weld rough-sawn material as the rotary motion is able to prepare the surface during the bonding process. The Thompson friction welding machines are equipped with automatic length control which means that every weld will result in the same length end-product, even after the weld burn off, minimising waste and providing a cost-efficient welding solution, delivering; short cycle times, providing overall unit cost savings; material optimization reducing material costs; dissimilar material bonds, reducing material costs.
K: What expertise do we have at KUKA, that enable us to satisfy our client’s requirements?
J: KUKA Systems design, manufacture, supply and install the Thompson range of friction welding machines. KUKA are already an established global leader in the provision of friction welding equipment, with over 55 years of experience in this field, and have successfully pioneered this business sector year on year.
Locally we have: –
Many years of friction welding experience at our Halesowen facility
An experienced team of fitters and test engineers providing support and assistance when required
A global sales and service network
A broad knowledge of the market sectors into which we supply
Global endorsements and approvals from: BWI, TWI, AWS, ISO, API, GOST, DNV
Many global customer reference sites
The backing and support of KUKA AG
K: Into what industries are our Thompson friction welding machines delivered?
J: Many industries suit Thompson friction welding machines. These include: –
Automotive; valves, axles, driveshafts, turbochargers
Construction: piston rods, hydraulic cylinders
Metal Industry; heat exchangers, tools, gear shafts
Oil & Gas; drill pipes, drill rods
Electrical Industry; electrical connectors, battery contacts
Aerospace; Turbines, structural components
K: What ad-hoc features can we adapt to a ‘standard’ machine, that make KUKA truly unique, as manufacturers of rotary friction welding machines?
J: KUKA can include many different options to a standard manual machine which can be unique for the customer: –
Fully automated welding cell, incorporating KUKA’s industrial robots and conveyor systems
Automated flash removal
Automated gas lance for internal flash removal of tubes
Bar code reader incorporated into the machine software for traceability
Material length control
KUKA possess the expertise within our systems ‘arm’ to combine the KUKA and Thompson products, ultimately offering a full turn-key solution to customers, all conceptualised, designed and delivered under the KUKA brand. We also have the flexibility to design a system around the customers’ specific requirements.
K: What, in your opinion, are the key features of RFW that will support its continued use within manufacturing, into the future?
J: Adaptability to modern product iterations; A sustainable method of welding; Speed of weld to increase cost savings; The strongest known form of material bonding; Flexibility of machine build; Simple to automate, either by creating a new automated cell or by integration into current process lines; Easy to use KUKA software; No specific skill set required.
Two brands, one strong partner to cover different industries with tailor-made and standard solutions.