WICHITA, KS -- The Advanced Joining & Processing Lab within Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) recently purchased a new articulated arm robot for friction stir welding (FSW).
Lab personnel will now begin to transition FSW technologies they have developed on the lab's MTS 5-axis FSW gantry machine to the new 6-axis robotic platform. The IRB 7600-500 Power Robot from ABB has a reach of 2.55 meters (about 8.4 feet) and a handling capacity of 500 kilograms (about 1,100 pounds).
"This is a very sturdy robot, the largest robot of this type provided by ABB," says lab director Dr. Dwight Burford. "It is capable of performing continuous friction stir welds as well as spot welds, which we call in-situ integral fasteners, for qualification purposes."
The robot will be particularly important in the lab's work with swept friction stir spot welds, which have greater strength than rivets, especially in aluminum sheet under 0.10" thick.
Currently student lab technicians, with the help of NIAR's Research Machine Shop, are developing an end effector and adapter plates for the robot. An additional end effector and adapter plates are being developed by an outside organization.
Full-time researchers and student lab technicians will undergo robotics programming training in the coming weeks using ABB's Robot Studio software package.
The robot was purchased using funds provided through the NIAR-Industry-State (NIS) research program. All NIS research projects are identified and selected by an executive committee composed of representatives from Boeing, Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and Spirit AeroSystems.
"Our industry partners are very interested in robotic applications, which offer manufacturing flexibility and low cost solutions," says Burford.
FSW is an automated solid state joining process that offers numerous benefits in joining metals including minimizing or eliminating defects typically encountered in fusion welding, such as excessive weld distortion, weld cracking and lower mechanical properties. Other benefits of FSW and its variations, friction stir spot welding (FSSW) and friction stir processing (FSP), include improved joint strength, reduced manufacturing time, reduced complexity of the manufacturing process, reduced parts count and weight and an ability to work with previously unweldable materials.
The technology is increasingly replacing rivets and fusion welding on aerospace structures. It provides an energy-efficient and environmental alternative that eliminates the need for filler metals and shield gases while providing better material utilization.
The Advanced Joining and Processing Laboratory provides research driven by FSW, FSP and FSSW. The lab was developed in part by the NIAR/Industry/State (NIS) program and the Federal Aviation Administration. The lab is utilized by industry partners participating in the National Science Foundation Center for Friction Stir Processing and NIS programs, the FAA and numerous other clients.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bombardier Aerospace offers 24/7 technical support for operators of Bombardier Learjet, Challenger, and Global aircraft. For Learjet technical support: (316) 946-6100 or email@example.com...