SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Manufacturing Technology, Inc. (MTI) recently shipped North America’s first linear friction welder capable of full-sized part development to the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) facility in Detroit, where it will contribute to cutting edge light-weighting research in the automotive and aerospace sectors.
Weighing 122,000 pounds (61 metric tons), roughly the same weight as a Boeing 737, the LF35-75 welder reportedly has the largest tooling envelope of any linear friction welder in the world, enabling production of the largest full-scale parts available. The welder will bring the same linear friction welding technology used in aerospace to achieve light-weighting blisks and integrally bladed rotors (IBR) to aircraft engines and the automotive industry.
The word “blisk” is derived from “bladed disk,” a critical aviation component that can be manufactured via additive manufacturing, casting, or CNC machining. A blisk is a single part used in aerospace engine design that is sometimes called an integrally bladed rotor.
“This is the only machine of its kind in the world, and we are extremely excited about the possibilities this machine brings moving forward,” said MTI President and CEO Dan Adams, in a statement. “Our North American customers in the aerospace, automotive, defense, rail, and mining industries have been looking for a machine that is capable of full-scale parts. Previously, these customers would have to travel all the way to Europe. But now, they have access to this technology right here in Detroit.”
In order to best serve North American customers, MTI and LIFT will have shared capacity of the machine.
MTI, a company with expertise in friction welding technologies, will run and maintain the machine at LIFT’s facility in Detroit. MTI will also complete customer-directed work on the machine and support any programs that LIFT has moving forward.
“Deploying a machine such as this linear friction welder will increase our light-weighting research and development exponentially,” said Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director, LIFT. “We are thrilled to have MTI as a partner and thankful for their willingness to develop and deliver such an impressive piece of equipment for us here in Detroit.”
LIFT (lift.technology), one of the founding members of Manufacturing USA, is a public-private partnership designed to help develop and deploy advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies. The partnership is also focused on implementing education and training programs to better prepare the workforce of today and tomorrow.
MTI (www.mtiwelding.com) has established itself as a leader in friction welding, including rotary friction, linear friction, low force friction, and friction stir welding technologies. In addition to providing contract manufacturing services, MTI has delivered machines to Boeing, GE, Rolls-Royce, Pratt and Whitney, Federal Mogul, and many of their tier one suppliers.