HMK partnered with Siemens and MTI to lead the way in welding technology for the axle market

Global joining solutions provider MTI has collaborated with technology company HMK, the Siemens motion partner, to pioneer the development of a double axle friction welding machine, worth in excess of £2 million, for one of the world’s leading trailer manufacturers.

The 16m friction welding machine, which was delivered in February, welds a complete axle in just one cycle.

The machine sets a new standard for the axle industry, reducing cycle times by up to 10 percent and potentially reducing the requirement of a third shift.

“MTI invested 2,000 hours to design this machine, but the cost and efficiency benefits it will deliver to customers are unbeatable,” said Richard Jones, managing director of the Kingswinford based firm.

A fully automated machine, the double axle friction welder eliminates slow and manual part load and unload operations.

Specifically designed for the axle market, fully finished axles for multiple applications are delivered with precision part accuracy and statistical data monitoring for the quality process.

“It’s already well-exceeded expectations of the customer and with these results as evidence, we look forward to introducing the double axle friction welder to new clients and markets,” said Jones.

Surpassing rigid industry specifications, the machine delivers workpiece orientation to less than ±1° and achieves TIR up to 0.25 mm.

The double axle machine also features a CpK rating of 1.67, a critical performance measurement utilised by the industry which demands a CpK of 1.33 or above to satisfy most automotive customers.

The impressive friction welder also features automatically-positioning clamps and offers near-unlimited recipes through its PC interface, allowing different axle production runs to be scheduled on one machine.

This eliminates the need to juggle schedules across multiple, single-weld machines.

Several other complex features have been designed into the machine to allow the customer to enhance its patented technology developments for future axle designs.

As MTI’s most advanced double axle friction welder, the machine is the first of its kind to utilise Siemens’ SIMOTION high-end motion control system along with the latest motor and drive technology from Siemens’ SINAMICS range which is Industry 4.0 ready.

“We are very proud to have partnered with HMK to develop such a revolutionary welding machine,” said Jones.

“With its market-leading Siemens operating system and MTI’s patented welding technology, you would be hard-pressed to find another product that offers such flexibility and process control.”

MTI's friction-welding kernel has been architected to maximise its use of the SIMOTION platform.

By fully utilising the available powerful task architecture and execution system available, the system can adjust the priority of tasks within the processor according to when their execution is at its most critical for the friction-welding process.

As a result, the friction-welding process can be controlled down to a sub-millisecond level.

Processing of the servo-drive position loops is also passed down to the drive using Dynamic Servo Control (DSC) to reduce task-load on the processor and improve performance.

The system offers unrivalled control over process parameters including spindle position in-cycle for even tighter finished part tolerances than previously thought possible.

In addition to the aforementioned features, the machine takes full advantage of the Safety-Integrated functions offered with the SINAMICS drive-system to allow safe operation of the machine via teach-pendant for set-up.

Equipped with market leading machine performance statistics, MTI is now focusing on introducing the double axle friction welder to new customers in the axle and trailer industry whilst simultaneously expanding into the truck and lorry transmission market.

If you would like more information on this project, or the products and expertise that we supplied please contact us.


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