This is a story idea from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of the tip.
Researchers at ORNL have developed a hybrid process where they use a laser in combination with friction-stir welding (FSW) -- a technique that has been in development for about 10 years for joining small metal alloys parts -- to extend its application to more materials. FSW uses a rotating tool to join metal components without melting. The process is best suited for alloys with low melting points, such as aluminum, and materials that are difficult to weld with conventional methods. However, extending FSW to high-temperature metals and alloys such as steel and titanium has been problematic because of tool wear and material requirements. Adding a laser to the FSW process to preheat and soften the metal parts reduces wear on the tool. ORNL's hybrid laser-assisted FSW technology will enable the industrial application of FSW to joining high-temperature metals and alloys. The work is funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Fusion Materials.
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