Monday, February 22, 2021

Element Six to provide PCBN tools for European friction stir welding (FSW) research programme

Brand new tooling technology enables mass adoption of FSW for applications including ship building, steel pipelines, wind turbines, automotive and aerospace manufacturing.

Element Six (E6), part of the De Beers Group, has announced its participation as tooling solutions provider in a European Union (EU) research initiative to scale friction stir welding (FSW) for mass adoption in the shipping industry.

RESURGAM (Robotic Survey, Repair & Agile Manufacture) is a programme established to improve the productivity of how shipyards fabricate new, advanced technology vessels and increase their access to specialist repair and maintenance.

FSW is a high integrity, low distortion and environmentally benign welding technique allowing the automated production of high-strength welds. The technique, which also works under water, offers a combination of improved quality, production speeds and cost efficiencies.

As part of the initiative, Element Six will develop specialised polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) FSW tools with a range of sizes for welding steels that are required for various marine applications. Leveraging over 40 years of market-leading PCBN material expertise in cutting tools, E6 has already worked closely with The Welding Institute (TWI) to demonstrate that PCBN FSW tools offer significantly extended tool life and superior weld quality in steel.

FSW is already widely used for manufacturing aluminium materials. Key to the project will be the transfer of FSW technology into the welding of steel, which accounts for the vast majority of global metals production. Success will enable the construction and ongoing maintenance of larger, stronger and stiffer shipping vessels.

Element Six brings to the market its unparalleled capability to produce reliable, consistent and long-life PCBN FSW tools for welding of steel - an important competitive advantage which removes barriers for widespread industrial adoption of E6’s solutions in a wide range of applications including oil, gas and water pipelines, automotive, aerospace and energy.

Abhishek Tanwar, Sales Director for Grits and Distribution at Element Six, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in the RESURGAM initiative as an advanced tooling solution provider. Friction stir welding has the potential to transform the manufacturing and repair of steel structures through better joints, as well as safer and more eco-friendly processes. Thanks to their excellent high temperature and hardness properties, our PCBN tools are uniquely equipped to deliver this. The RESURGAM programme is another important step towards more widespread adoption of a welding technique that will significantly improve productivity and reduce environmental impact in the shipping industry.”

RESURGAM is a large, multinational, €6 million project funded by the EU Commission involving leading researchers and shipyards from nine European countries. Element Six will work alongside a range of groups, including TWI, leading researchers from shipyards, other manufacturing industries and academia. 

If you are interested in learning more about FSW, you can watch the free webinar below, organised in collaboration with TWI.

The RESURGAM project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101007005

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Learn more about friction stir welding of steel

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