Friday, October 30, 2015

New Automotive Welding Technology Expected to Create Much Stronger Bond

Ohio State University engineering team has developed a new automotive welding technology that creates strong bonds between metals that are formerly ‘un-weldable’. 

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The engineer team at the Ohio State University announced that they have developed a new welding technology called vaporized foil actuator (VFA) welding, which requires 80% less energy than spot welding but produces bonds 50% stronger. Also, the process creates strong bonds between metals that were weakened by the melting and re-solidification in conventional welding. 

“Materials have gotten stronger, but welds have not. We can design metals with intricate micro-structures, but we destroy the micro-structure when we weld. With our method, materials are shaped and bonded together at the same time, and they actually get stronger”, said Glenn Daehn – professor of materials science and engineering from Ohio State, who helped develop the technique. 
A diagram demonstrating the vaporized foil actuator welding technique.  (Cr: Glenn Daehn, Courtesy of The Ohio State University). 
Instead of melting the metal parts like in resistance spot welding, the VFA process allows a short and low-energy electrical pulse to come inside a piece of aluminum foil, availing a high-voltage capacitor bank. When the foil vaporizes, the resulting plasma would mash the metal pieces together, bonding atoms of one metal to the other’s atoms. Viewed under a high-powered microscope, the bond is often characterized by wave patterns where veins of both materials wrap around each other. 

Thus far, the engineers have managed to bond different combinations of aluminum, copper, iron, magnesium, titanium and nickel, and commercial steel and aluminum alloys with the weld regions which are stronger than the base metals. 

A microscope view of copper (top) welded to titanium (bottom) utilizing the VFA welding technique (Cr: Glenn Daehn, Courtesy of The Ohio State University).
The engineer team now wants to coordinate with manufacturers to further develop the technique, which will be licensed through the Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office. 


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