Novel application of LFW to enable near net shape forming of components

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Metallurgy and Materials


An applied research project led by GKN Aerospace, taking an existing joining technique, Linear Friction Welding (LFW), and applying it in a novel way to achieve near net shape forming, resulting in a step-change in overall UK manufacturing competitiveness. It enables both a significantly reduced raw material requirement and machining time and cost, delivering a much improved 'Buy to Fly' ratio and environmental sustainabilty. Environmental benefits will be achieved through the whole supply chain from reduced energy used during material supply and part manufacture of both hard and soft metals.

Work will be undertaken with Thompson Friction Weld, who have a proven experience in using LFW, and academic support from the University of Birmingham for weld characterisation, optimisation and validation. This advanced manufacturing technology will enable high value cost efficient environmentally beneficial manufacturing to be exploited in the UK in an increasingly competitive global market. The project adresses two challenges identified in this call: Intelligent processing of metals/net shape hybrid structures and Innovation in new manufacturing process competencies.

Planned Impact

The consortium partners of Thompson Friction Welding, The University of Birmingham and led by GKN Aerospace can offer an unique combination of UK capability to exploit this research project, which will take an existing joining technique, Linear Friction Welding (LFW), and apply it in an novel way to achieve near net shape forming in large airframe structures.

This will result in a step-change in UK manufacturing competitiveness by delivering improved 'Buy to Fly' ratios and consequent environmental benefits (through both reduced materials waste and lighter structures). The linking of an Original Equipment Manufacturer (Thompson) to an Aerospace Manufacture (GKN) is one obvious route to impact, but underpinning scientific research by the University partner (Birmingham) is critical to providing the confidence to broaden to the technology to other materials' combinations and cross-sectorial applications.


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Description The processing window for these alloys is broad such that the technology can be applied with confidence to a wide range of component geometries.

Microstructure and underlying texture can be controlled sufficiently well even in the as-welded conditions, and can be optimised further by additional heat treatments.

Welds can be produced to be defect free and no significant structural integrity issues are predicted in their future use.
Exploitation Route The technique is applicable to a wide range of sectors and materials where the production of near-net shape components is required.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

Description The underpinning studies have been used to support the production of the largest proto-type linear-friction welded component to date world-wide. This will be exploited by the industrial partners.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Transport
Impact Types Economic