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New Welding Technique Developed That Uses Less Energy and Welds Un-Weldable Metals

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:14AM

Welding is a crucial technology for the manufacturing of many objects and structures, but it does have some important limitations. For one thing it can take a lot of energy and many metals cannot be welded together, without the welds being weak. Researchers at Ohio State University have recently developed a new welding technique though, that addresses both issues.

In resistance spot welding, metals are welded together by applying an electric current that heats a metal by their natural resistances. This heat is enough to partially melt the metals involved, creating the welds, but requires a lot of energy and the melting and re-solidification process can weaken the metals. The Ohio researchers' solution solves both problems by vaporizing aluminum foil. The method is called vaporized foil actuator (VFA) welding and works by connecting aluminum foil to a high-voltage capacitor bank. The capacitors release a powerful pulse into the aluminum foil, causing it to vaporize and create a burst of gas. This burst forces the two pieces of metal to be welded together at speeds nearing thousands of miles per hour.

The result of this method is a weld between the metals' atoms, without melting the metals and weakening them, allowing more metals to be welded than previously possible, including steel and aluminum alloys which were previously un-weldable. Vaporizing aluminum foil also takes less energy than spot welding, so the method itself is more efficient. In addition to that, this technique can shape metal parts at the same time, saving a manufacturing step.

Source: Ohio State University

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