On-site metals advice boosts sub contract facility

A metallurgy consultancy service, which aims to help firms save costs with advice on smarter manufacturing solutions, is now available at KUKA’s UK sub contract friction welding facility.

Professor Kameel Sawalha has moved his independent laboratory business, Aston Microscopy & Engineering, to the site at Halesowen where the advanced welding systems supplier joins components for manufacturers involved in a wide variety of industries.

He is a fellow and chartered engineer and holds a BSc degree in mechanical and production engineering (Napier University), MSc in manufacturing system engineering (Warwick) and a PhD in materials engineering (Aston). His expertise not only covers metallurgical and corrosion investigation, but also failure analysis and materials selection advice. He has published numerous scientific papers and has been a visiting professor of material at a number of academic institutions.

The addition of the metallurgy consultancy means KUKA can offer a full suite of laboratory amenities such as EDX analysis for assessing weld integrity and failure as well as associated services including heat treatment and prototype manufacture and development. Among its state-of-the-art equipment is an electron microscope for high-resolution imaging purposes. The facility comprises seven Thompson brand friction welding machines for joining a vast array of components not only in various diameters and lengths, but also in a selection of dissimilar materials such as copper to aluminium.

“Professor Sawalha’s consultancy enhances our capabilities to offer a comprehensive resource for manufacturers on all aspects of friction welding metallurgy and weldability,” explained Jayne Shimwell, KUKA’s technical services manager.

According to KUKA, more component makers in industries including aerospace, automotive, construction machine and mineral exploration are choosing friction welding as it’s a cost-effective, accurate and 100% repeatable technology. “We have plenty of experience of helping customers combat rising raw material costs with smarter, more efficient manufacturing solutions such as developing new weld parameters that use less material,” said Jayne.

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Largest UK subcon friction welder

Our facility includes a Thompson friction welding machine offering a 150T forge force capability for joining components including drill pipe, pump shafts, valves and piston rods of up to 120mm diameter. 

The machine's long bed means it can join components up to 12 metres in length with a minimum diameter of 50mm and a maximum diameter up to *110mm.
It features 100% in-process monitoring, external flash removal and is automated, with lifting crane for assistance.

Compared with other welding methods, friction welding creates a full, homogeneous bond and 100% quality from first to last batch (unlike manual welding) and is fully repeatable.


* based on structural steel bar

Cylinder maker boosts output with Thompson machine

European hydraulic cylinder manufacturer Kyashif has boosted productivity thanks to a Thompson direct drive rotary friction welding machine. The Bulgaria-based business chose the PR Series model equipped with a KUKA robot so it could speed up the production of joining pre-chromed plated piston rods to rod end connectors at its facility in Dzhebel.
The Thompson machine also met the company's requirements for a compact manufacturing cell which could fit in an area on the shopfloor where space was limited. Kyashif is using the equipment to produce standard and custom cylinders from 40-320mm diameter and up to 6000mm in length.
"Many of Kyashif's potential customers were asking for a friction welded quality joint rather than the alternative arc welding method, in particular, because new alloy metals are more suited to the friction welding process," explained Colin Nicholls, European sales manager.
"Kyashif's owners are delighted that output has been improved, especially with the addition of the robot for the part loading/unloading operation. They're also impressed by the machine's ability to accommodate a wide variety of component sizes," he added.

Machine is stateside bound

North America's largest direct drive rotary friction welding sub-contractor has picked a Thompson machine to boost its capacity. American Friction Welding, based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, will shortly take delivery of the 50 ton model, which will be used to join a wide variety of components up to 8ft in length.
The single-ended machine, which features Thompson's latest software and HMI, new controls and hydraulics, will extend AFW's capabilities for friction welding products typically used in the semi-conductor, defence, electrical and aerospace industries.
New machine features include a self-centring clamp, manual positional backstop, part orientation and an adaptive forge function for accurate length control. A single tool, two-axis flash removal system has also been added for detaching upset from more complex geometries.
This latest machine will bring the number of Thompson friction welders in use at AFW's facility to nine, underlining a relationship which now spans more than 25 years.
"As a quality and technology-driven company, it's important to maintain a competitive edge by having the most up-to-date equipment that not only increases capacity, but also shortens lead times for customers," explained John Fischer, AFW's president. "Thanks to an ongoing commitment to innovative technology and proven reliability at the sale and after the sale, Thompson remains an invaluable supplier," he added.