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Impact welding equipment developed at Ohio State debuts at Tri-Rivers Career Center

In early April, engineers at The Ohio State University delivered the first prototype vaporizing foil actuator welding (VFAW) system to Tri-Rivers Career Center, whose RAMTEC program trains welding practitioners. It marks the first time this manufacturing technology can be used by entities outside of Ohio State. RAMTEC, which is one of the nation’s leading robotics and advanced manufacturing training facilities, is using the system to train current and future technicians.

VFAW prototypeMaterials Science and Engineering Professor Glenn Daehn’s team has amassed more than half a dozen patents for impulse manufacturing and VFAW, where a high-voltage capacitor bank creates a very short electrical pulse inside a thin piece of aluminum foil. Within microseconds (millionths of a second), the foil vaporizes, and a burst of hot gas pushes two pieces of metal together at speeds approaching thousands of miles per hour. Using electrical current and an aluminum foil, VFAW can produce welds at a lower cost per joint and without the usual reductions in material strength in the weld region that accompanies traditional processes. Additional benefits include the ability to join metals without adding materials and weight, and reduced factory floor space and energy use relative to other methods.

"RAMTEC is looking forward to developing various processes, procedures and experiments with dissimilar materials and machine settings that will test the full range of VFAW welding capabilities," said Mark Edington, robotics coordinator at RAMTEC. "We then plan to translate these tasks into real-world applications for potential industry usage along with automating the process."

The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) supported the innovation and its potentially significant impact on Ohio’s manufacturers as they face growing international competition and demands for more efficient designs.

Daehn's lab also received $2.7 million from the Department of Energy in 2016 to further develop VFAW as a viable technology for creating multi‐material, lightweight vehicles.

Tags: Research