Collaboration between EADS and KUKA: License for DeltaN friction-stir welding technology from EADS planned

11 September 2012

Wide-ranging memorandum of understanding signed by KUKA and EADS during ILA 2012

EADS’ patented DeltaN friction-stir welding technology will be licensed to Germany’s KUKA Robotics and its system partners in order to market innovative robotic FSW technology. The respective agreement also covers joint engineering services and training activity for KUKA customers using this solid-state joining process. The partners are also evaluating possibilities for the establishment of a DeltaN application centre at the new Bavarian International Campus Aerospace & Security (BICAS) in Germany.

A memorandum of understanding, signed on Tuesday, September 11, at the 2012 ILA Airshow in Berlin with the EADS Technology Licensing initiative, sets the framework for KUKA to offer its industrial robots with the DeltaN welding technology, which provides high-quality welds using the friction-stir welding technique.

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Marking the memorandum of understanding’s signing at the ILA Berlin Air Show are (from left to right), Otto Kellenberger, Kuka’s Master of Engineering Key Technology Management – Aerospace Applications; KUKA CEO Dr. Till Reuter; and EADS Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti.

Friction-stir welding offers a cost-effective, fast and weight-saving alternative to conventional riveting used in joining metallic components und optimises the usual welding processes and its costs for Aluminum alloy sheets whether or castings. The DeltaN technology results from more than 12 years of development at EADS Innovation Works – the corporate research and technology arm at EADS – which has pursued advances in friction-stir welding for aerospace-related purposes.

KUKA’s use of DeltaN technology is expected to provide benefits for its industrial robots acquired by system integrators and end-use customers, with applications including the automotive and computer industries, as well as other sectors.

As part of the licensing agreement, KUKA and EADS also will consider joint engineering and training for robot systems with the DeltaN technology, along with potential joint sales and marketing of DeltaN-equipped robots.

In addition to licensing, EADS and KUKA are evaluating the establishment of a DeltaN application centre at the new Bavarian International Campus Aerospace & Security (BICAS), which is being established at EADS’ Ottobrunn site near Munich. BICAS will develop into an international innovation hub for science and business during the coming years. Its aim is to enable academia and companies from around the world to work together at the Ottobrunn high-technology site. Partners in the BICAS consortium are EADS and IABG, along with the Technical University of Munich, the Bundeswehr University Munich, the Munich University of Applied Sciences and Bauhaus Luftfahrt, with the German DLR aerospace centre (Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt DLR) as an additional partner.

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KUKA’s industrial robots will benefit from DeltaN technology, which evolved from a long-term development at EADS Innovation Works.

EADS’ DeltaN friction-stir welding technology incorporates a simple and robust design, featuring a stationary shoulder portion and a rotating welding pin. This concept places the high revolutions on the pin and zero revolutions on the shoulder, providing significant reductions in welding distortion and vertical down-forces when compared with typical standard tools, while also increasing the pin’s lifetime by reducing lateral loads.

Friction-stir welding is a solid-state joining process in which the metal is not melted. The technology is used for applications where the original metal characteristics must remain unchanged as much as possible. It works by mechanically intermixing the two pieces of metal where they are to be joined, transforming them into a softened state that allows the metal to be fused using mechanical pressure. This process is primarily used on aluminium, and most often on large pieces which cannot be easily heat-treated post-weld to recover temper characteristics.

Cheers Interactive, the EADS Technology Licensing initiative’s global partner, structured and enabled the envisioned friction-stir welding cooperation with KUKA.