The communications relay of a submarine sticking out of the water, while the rest of the vessel remains submerged.

Over the last two decades, friction stir-welding has emerged and been established as an extremely effective alternative to traditional MIG welding for use in marine applications, particularly as the industry moves towards increased use of aluminum. The powerful combination of reduced weight from aluminum and increased strength of FSW welds can yield spectacular benefits for marine designs.

Aluminum can help you obtain weight and production savings and improve the quality and efficiency of your vessels and structures. Aluminum reduces weight without sacrificing structural strength. The unique qualities of extruded aluminum component design provides you with exceptionally high torsion strength resistance.

If you’re looking to cut costs of construction for your cruise ships, mega-yachts, defense vessels, passenger ferries, leisure craft, as well as offshore platforms and rigs, read on!

FSW is Well Suited For Marine Applications Because of The Nature of The Welds

The friction stir welding process is best utilized on long straight welds, as this allows for a more cost-effective and efficient process. Unsurprisingly, this happens to cover a significant portion of the flat structures that are used in the marine industry, such as floors, decks, bulkheads, and more parts that don’t require complex curves. Many of the structures that are welded in this process are alloyed aluminum extrusions.

Friction-stir welding is a great compliment to alloyed aluminum as it can successfully weld any of the normal range of aluminum alloys – whether that be the plate, extruded sections, forging, or castings – including high strength alloys such as 7xxx and 2xxx series aluminum. The ability to weld dissimilar materials effectively (for example, steel to aluminum) is an additional benefit of FSW.

An image showing the different potential marine applications of FSW, such as military vessels, cruise ships, and civilian transports.

Benefits of FSW For Marine Vessels

For projects both large and small, the FSW process stands to speed up the construction process and save money. The cost savings comes from the elimination of the required man-hours of traditional MIG welding, and also provides a stronger, higher quality weld, which cuts down on secondary repair costs down the line. Also, using complete components such as Modular FSW panels reduces the time and labor costs of measurement and cutting on the construction site.

Additional Benefits

  • Minimal distortion on the weld, and better aesthetics
  • More environmentally friendly (no UV radiation or fumes) as well more user-friendly
  • Removes flaws that are inherent to conditional welding methods – no porosity, no hot cracking, stronger fusion of the constituent elements
  • FSW is becoming more widely adopted and is less susceptible to errors due to the automated process

Examples of Components That Are FSW Ready

Flooring, Deck, and Bridges

Flooring | Bulkheads | Decks | Walkways | Gangways

Structural Systems

Panels | Walls | Docks | Seawalls

Ready to get to work? Check out Taber’s FSW capabilities and let’s get started.

About Taber: 

Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS., in 1995 which houses a cast house and two additional presses, and multiple expansions of value added fabrication services. Taber continues to extrude billet in a wide range of alloys and sizes, including 7″billet molds, and has diversified its markets beyond military since its inception to include aerospace, automotive, marine, infrastructure, and sporting goods, among many others. For these markets, the company supplies extruded products in a variety of soft and hard alloys. In 2018, Taber added ultra-precision extrusions to their capabilities allowing them to further serve customers in electronics, computer, and medical industries. Today Taber is proud to announce yet another exciting launch into Friction Stir Welding.