What Types of Welding Methods Are Commonly Used for Aircraft?
While welding has already been a primary method of assembling aircraft structures for many years, the continous introduction and improvement of various methods has greatly increased the quality and efficiency of assemblies to benefit modern aircraft. By utilizing arc welding, fiber laser welding, linear friction welding, and more, manufacturers can create robust attachments that can withstand the many forces and loads faced during flight. In this blog, we will discuss some of the primary types of welding used for aircraft, allowing you to best understand how certain assemblies are formed.
Arc welding is a popular method for joining metals together, and it is carried out by utilizing electricity to melt components. To ensure that there is sufficient electricity for a process, arc welding equipment require some form of power supply. Constant current supplies serve as the most popular method for a number of applications, due to the fact that they provide a steady current level even as voltage varies. Tungsten inert gas welding, or TIG welding, is an arc welding type in which tungsten is used as a non-consumable electrode. With TIG welding, thin metals can be melted down for connections with ease. In regard to aviation applications, TIG welding is most often utilized for various engine components. The industry has also begun to invest in other promising types of arc welding, such as reduced spatter metal inert gas welding.
In more recent years, power beam welding has been introduced to the industry and has quickly been taking it by storm. With power beam welding, optical fibers are doped with rare-earth elements in order to serve as an active gain medium for fiber lasers. With the use of rare-earth materials such as ytterbium (Yb), engineers have been able to steadily increase the efficiency and beam time of such welding machines for the benefit of welding applications. Generally, power beam welding is most often used for the assembly of engine components.
When manufacturing the bladed disk assemblies for an engine, linear friction welding serves as the most popularly used method by many top gas turbine aircraft engine manufacturers. To conduct linear friction welding, a workpiece is placed on an oscillating welding machine surface and is revolved in relation to the piece it will be attached to. With the application of high compression, the two pieces will begin to heat up due to friction until the materials begin to plasticise. By continuing to compress the assembly, the pasticised materials and contaminants are burned off until the workpieces can bond their metals. While linear friction welding is most often used for joining metals, it can also serve well for woods and plastics.
As one of the last major forms of welding for aircraft structures, laser additive manufacturing is often used for the construction of engine components. With laser additive manufacturing, a laser can be used to melt down a specific area of metal to create a pool. Then, a nozzle is used to pour ceramic powder or metals into the pool in order to create a specific shape. If there is a high need for precision and accuracy, selective laser melting may be used. With such machines, 3D CAD models can be used for construction and may be obtained through scanning the cross-sections of a component.
As compared to other types of aircraft assembly methods, such as fastening structures, welding holds some advantages that makes it a desirable process for many aircraft components. For one, welding can be conducted very rapidly, reducing the amount of downtime an aircraft must face during maintenance. Furthermore, welding can be economically efficient and thus can save money that would be spent on other maintenance and construction procedures. Lastly, methods of welding such as TIG welding were specifically designed for the manufacturing of aircraft parts to benefit their assembly.
At Cogent Sourcing, we can help you find the welding parts and systems that you need for your operations with ease. Peruse our expansive catalogs to find welding machines, welding rods, box welding components, welding tape, and other similar items that have been sourced from top global manufacturers. If there is a particular listing from our website that you are interested in, you may request a quote at any time by filling out and submitting an Instant RFQ form. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our offered services or would like to begin the purchasing process, our team of industry experts are readily available 24/7x365 and are just a phone call or email away.