Partnership success with EADS’ friction-stir welding technology for industrial robots

2 November 2012

EADS’ patented DeltaN FS® friction-stir welding technology was spotlighted at the recent EuroBLECH show in Hanover, Germany, where partner KUKA Roboter GmbH unveiled a new industrial robot tailored specifically for use with this highly efficient joining process.

The biennial international exhibition for sheet metal-working technology provided the international debut for KUKA Robotics’ KR500-3MT heavy-duty robot with its payload capacity and force control adapted for use of the DeltaN FS® welding tool.

In addition, this KR500-3MT version enables an operator to manage both the robot and its DeltaN FS® welding tool from a single control panel – an integration that results from a cooperation between the German robot manufacturer and EADS Innovation Works, the research arm of EADS, which developed the DeltaN FS® technique.

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Operating inside a protective display area at the EuroBLECH show, the KUKA Roboter KR500-3MT industrial robot demonstrates its welding capabilities using EADS’ patented DeltaN FS® technology.

DeltaN FS® friction-stir welding technology is available for licensing opportunities through the EADS Technology Licensing initiative, which is overseen by the EADS Corporate Technology Office.

For the first public appearance of KUKA’s integrated DeltaN FS® robot, the company’s 200-square-meter exhibit at EuroBLECH incorporated a fully functional KR500-3MT, which performed lap-joint and butt-joined welds – demonstrating the range of capabilities with EADS’ friction-stir welding process.

“EuroBLECH was a true milestone in many respects,” explained Wulf Hoeflich, who heads the EADS Technology Licensing initiative. “Not only was this KUKA Robotics’ official introduction of KR500-3MT with DeltaN FS® and its first demonstration of the EADS-parented friction-stir welding at any industrial show, the event also marked an official rollout of DeltaN FS® co-branding with EADS, underscoring the market maturity of this technology.”

The KR500 robot equipped with the DeltaN FS® technology licensed by EADS has been sold in significant numbers through Grenzebach – a German system integrator and process solutions provider, and the largest shareholder in KUKA Robotics parent company, KUKA AG. Grenzebach markets friction-stir welding with DeltaN FS® for production line applications in cooperation with KUKA Robotics, and its success represents the first large-scale commercialization of friction-stir welding to date.

The teaming between EADS and its licensees was evident at EuroBLECH. In addition to the presence of executives and managers from KUKA Robotics, also attending the industrial show were the EADS Technology Licensing initiative’s Wulf Hoeflich; Juergen Silvanus, EADS Innovation Works’ Expert in Welding Technologies; and Vishal Udani, the Senior Vice President of Technology Licensing at Cheers Interactive – the EADS Technology Licensing Initiative’s global licensing partner.

Industrial uses for DeltaN FS® technology – which is supported by numerous EADS patents – range from aerospace, defense and automotive to computer production, railways, shipping offshore and more, with the robotic solution contributing to a reduction in capital investment for users.

In addition to the high joint quality and strength that comes with the use of EADS’ technology, the DeltaN FS® static shoulder tool design provides production advantages that include minimum localized heat impact, superior static and fatigue properties for the weld, high accuracy in joining 3-D and complex geometries with laser-guided position control, and significantly lower distortion when compared to standard friction-stir welding and fusion welding.