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Welding Technology for the Axle Market

Global joining solutions provider MTI has collaborated with technology company HMK, the Siemens motion partner, to pioneer the development of a double axle friction welding machine worth in excess of 2 million pounds for a leading trailer manufacturer.

The 16m friction welding machine, which was delivered in February of 2017, welds a complete axle in just one cycle. "The machine sets a new standard for the axle industry, reducing cycle times by up to 10% and potentially reducing the requirement of a third shift," said a spokesperson.

"MTI invested 2,000 hours to design this machine, but the cost and efficiency benefits it will deliver to customers are unbeatable," said MTI Managing Director Richard Jones.

A fully automated machine, the double axle friction welder eliminates slow and manual part load and unload operations. Specifically designed for the axle market, fully finished axles for multiple applications are delivered with precision part accuracy and statistical data monitoring for the quality process.

"It has already well exceeded expectations of the customer, and with these results as evidence, we look forward to introducing the double axle friction welder to new clients and markets," said Jones.

Surpassing rigid industry specifications, the machine delivers workpiece orientation to less than ±1° and achieves TIR up to 0.25 mm. The double axle machine also features a CpK rating of 1.67, a critical performance measurement utilized by the industry which requires a CpK of 1.33 or above to satisfy most automotive customers.

The friction welder also features automatically positioning clamps and offers near unlimited recipes through its PC interface, allowing different axle production runs to be scheduled on one machine. This eliminates the need to juggle schedules across multiple single-weld machines.

Several other complex features have been designed into the machine to allow the customer to enhance its patented technology developments for future axle designs.

As MTI's most advanced double axle friction welder, the machine is the first of its kind to utilize Siemens' SIMOTION high-end motion control system along with the latest motor and drive technology from Siemens' SINAMICS range, which is Industry 4.0 ready.

MTI's friction-welding kernel has been architected to maximize its use of the SIMOTION platform. By fully utilizing the available task architecture and execution system, the system can adjust the priority of tasks within the processor according to when their execution is at its most critical for the friction-welding process. As a result, the friction-welding process can be controlled down to a sub-millisecond level.

Processing of the servo-drive position loops is also passed down to the drive using Dynamic Servo Control (DSC) to reduce task-load on the processor and improve performance. "The system offers unrivalled control over process parameters, including spindle position in-cycle, for even tighter finished part tolerances than previously thought possible," said the spokesperson.

The machine takes full advantage of the Safety-Integrated functions offered with the SINAMICS drive system to allow safe operation of the machine via teach pendant for set-up.

MTI is focusing on introducing the double axle friction welder to new customers in the axle and trailer industry while simultaneously expanding into the truck transmission market.

For more information contact:

Manufacturing Technology Inc. (MTI)

1702 W Washington St.

South Bend, IN 46628


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