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CAV Advanced Technologies

During project quarter eleven CAV Advanced Technologies has completed the report for fatigue testing of the LFW samples. This report is the result of many months of planning, sample building, testing and analysis and provides an insight into the fatigue behaviour of linear friction welds.

The report has been shared with an OEM for review and comment to look at moving this technology one step closer to use on an aircraft.Testing has included different fatigue cycles, different weld parameters and different heat treatment activities as well as looking at baseline non welded materials. This work is showing promise in weld behaviour and also for defining the best parameters for welding and heat treatment.

Ten Solutions

Discussions were held with numerous major aircraft manufacturers to promote the features and benefits that near net shape manufacturing, using Linear Friction Welding could offer. In addition, gauging their reaction and interest but more importantly, their appetite for adopting the process. Nurturing these relationships to the point where we could evaluate a large number of suitable candidates based upon their potential to deliver significant Buy-to-Fly material savings. To speed up this process we created the NNS Shortlist Calculator to evaluate candidate parts for suitability, without the need for a detailed design study.

Guidelines for the design of LFW preforms were developed. Baseline manufacturing allowances and tolerances for material, preform part geometry and process parameters were established. Tooling fit up, and the reactive forces created by the LFW process were modelled using finite-element analysis to establish the optimum tooling arrangement required to produce good quality and repeatable welds. This work laid the foundations to the tooling development in WP2 and the production tooling for the TiFab demonstrator part in WP4.

In order to provide the most comprehensive analysis of candidate parts that were suitable for the LFW process. Design, capacity and utilisation tools were developed. These modules not only looked at how the parts were to be manufactured, but also evaluated the sequence of operations and equipment to be used. The output from these tools created a parts list, critical dimensions, billet volumes, perimeter measurements, weld areas, size of LFW machine and legacy part data. It also established the amount of time required to produce the part, delivered information regarding the capacity and utilisation that the part required in each production operation and compared this to the current method of manufacture. This provided an instant and comprehensive picture of the potential savings along the whole value stream. Enabling us to determine with some clarity, a suitable candidate part type to be selected as the demonstrator required in WP4.

Having established the design, capacity and utilisation tools earlier in the programme a cost-modelling module was developed and added to the suite of programmes. Mapping out the whole design and manufacturing process for tailored blank production, drilling down into each individual step of the entire process to establish the complete operational and equipment needs to produce aircraft components. All of this information linked via the cost model to a series of over arching cost drivers. Creating a multi-facetted array that was capable of establishing the cost of a linear friction welded tailored blank. In addition and using the same cost drivers, it mapped out the cost of producing the component using traditional manufacturing methods. Creating summary reports, detailing and comparing the cost of both methods of production. The module is also capable of determining the amount of equipment used, production floor space required and the number of personnel needed to run the facility.

Throughout the work package and the project, we utilised tools from the Industry 4.0 and Digital Factory arsenal. The use of electronic communications and data transfer allowed us to disseminate information, concepts and ideas efficiently and effectively, regardless of the location of the team and potential users. 3D design, 3D simulation, FE modelling, discrete event simulation and value stream analysis were also used extensively during all stages of this work package. We can say that our efforts in the programme have been an unqualified success. We have engaged extensively with some of the world’s foremost aircraft producers, analysed over 170 different aircraft structural components, and achieved a 100% success rate for LFW tailored blank solutions, with material savings of 30% or more on each part assessed. Identifying cumulative savings of over 200 tonnes of Titanium Alloy per year.


In the framework of Work Package 4 of the TiFab project, Thompson completed a feasibility study on the demonstrator candidate component. A Near Net Shape (NNS) design concept proposed by the project team was examined in view of assessing its suitability for the Linear Friction Welding (LFW) manufacturing process. A number of various adjustments were applied to the proposed design to optimise its fitness for LFW. Subsequently, tooling sets were designed and manufactured for both LFW machines available: the E130 and the newly-built LR50. This resulted in development and fabrication of a versatile, cost-effective production tooling set for the LR50 machine which decreased the tooling weight by 90% in comparison with the E130 tooling requirements. Various methods of post LFW flash removal were investigated and a slitting disc cutter was selected as the most appropriate for the TiFab demonstrator.

The LR50 LFW machine was recommissioned and its software updated, resulting in the whole system becoming Industry 4.0 ready. The last batch of TiFab demonstrators welding on LR50 is imminent thus completing the sample pool already containing parts produced on E130 and E20 LFW machines. Weld data from all three LFW machines is being collected and cross-examined by the consortium members.


General LFW tooling guidelines have been established, together with more prescribed tooling recommendations for the project demonstrator. These guidelines have led to the development of a production grade modular tooling system, together with component, tailored blank specific, inserts. This solution allows retaining tooling performance while enabling the economic application of Linear Friction Welding.

The capability of LFW for the manufacture of titanium aerostructure parts has been evaluated. LFW conditions have been established that produce good quality welds in terms of metallurgical and tensile performance. An independent in-process quality monitoring (IPQM) system has been designed as part of the welding procedure development to comply with industrial quality assurance requirements. The capability of this IPQM system has been proven using normal and intentionally off-normal weld samples. The output of this system, a weld report, offers evidence to empower the LFW Process Engineer in his/her decision making role, for weld qualification, statistical process control, and quality assurance.

Studies have also been completed for all of the process operations in the value stream. Creating a map of the production operations and the inter dependences of the various operations enabled a picture of what a facility for producing tailored blank aircraft components might look like. The latest knowledge within the fields of Digital Manufacturing and Systems Engineering have been applied to provide a system concept which is capable of achieving business case metrics in a safe and controlled manner. A state of the art fully automated Linear Friction Welding production system concept has been developed based on the application of Industry 4.0 philosophy and full digital integration on the shop floor and throughout the supply chain. Event based simulation modelling is used to achieve both low and high volume production of a candidate part based on generic assumptions.