Pratt & Whitney’s Middletown, IN, facility now has what is being called the “world’s largest capacity linear friction welding machine.” The machine was delivered in early May and installation is expected to be completed in September.
Built by Manufacturing Technology Inc., South Bend, IN, the machine wil be used to friction weld critical aircraft engine components to support Pratt & Whitney’s military programs and next generation product family.
“We are proud to select Manufacturing Technology Inc.’s linear friction welding machine, which offers a faster, safer and more reliable process. The machine reduces lead time by precisely welding airfoils, while also improving the quality of the part,” said Greg Treacy, general manager, Compression Systems Module Center, after the machine was delivered early in May.
“Across all of our sites at Pratt & Whitney, we are investing heavily in our facilities and this is just another example of how we are incorporating the latest most advanced manufacturing techniques into our processes. This machine is the largest and most innovative, automated and ergonomically capable linear friction welding machine.”
The main frame base “superload” travelled on a 19-axle flatbed transporter approximately 4.3 m wide (14 ft) and 61 m (200 ft) long. The machine was delivered using six standard flatbeds carrying loads ranging in weight from 18,143 to 108,862 kg (40,000 to 240,000 lb).
Including all components and subsystems, the linear friction welding machine weighs approximately 181,437 kg (400,000 lb), or 200 tons, and requires an installation area of approximately 12 by 18 ft (40 ft by 60 ft). The machine is 6.1 m (20 ft) tall and housed in a pit 2.7 m (9 ft) deep.
Linear friction welding is a joining process in which one piece moves up and down at high speeds while the other piece moves parallel to the ground and is pressed against the first piece with great force. The heat generates one of the strongest possible manufactured welds that present-day technology can accomplish.