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Multi-Tasking MC for Job Shops Adds Friction Stir Welding Capabilities

Mazak's HYBRID Multi-Tasking machining center, the VTC-300C FSW, combines milling capabilities with those of FRICTION STIR WELDING (FSW).

With a full traveling-column design, automatic tool changer and powerful 40-taper spindle in addition to the FSW package, this machine helps shops achieve reduced lead times and greater part accuracy with less required capital equipment and floor space -- all while enabling completely novel methods for processing parts with stronger welds than ever before.

Designed and manufactured in Kentucky in partnership with the Provo, Utah-based Mazak MegaStir, the VTC-300C FSW joins Mazak's series of HYBRID Multi-Tasking machines, which adds such capabilities as advanced additive, joining and gear-cutting technologies.

The machine's FSW package uses a process that involves frictional heat and forging pressure to create full-penetration, defect-free welded joints stronger than conventional methods. A solid-state joining process with a non-consumable tool pin, the Mazak FSW head joins two metal plates without melting the workpiece. Commonly considered a forging process, FSW is well-suited for joining alloys with low melting points, including aluminum, copper and brass, among others.

The FSW process is performed with a Mazak MegaStir-supplied tool holder equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled wireless sensor connection; a second tool holder or FSW tool pin is available as an option. The closed-loop FSW process control utilizes integrated thrust and temperature sensors for constant thrust control and the ability to perform manual thrust offsets during welding operations.

The VTC-300C FSW comes equipped with robust HMI software designed for the quick and simple programming of plunge/traverse/extract operations, with all process data logged and stored.

The new welding technology complements the existing VTC-300C machine platform, which delivers a standard 15,000-rpm, 30-hp, 40-taper spindle capable of handling a wide variety of metal cutting applications.

The machine also features Mazak's MAZATROL SmoothG CNC, which makes it easy to generate programs for highly complex parts production. It has several advanced functions that ensure the shortest possible machining cycle times, especially with fine-increment programs for free-form die-mold machining.

In addition to FSW, the new HYBRID Multi-Tasking technologies include AUTO GEAR (AG), a combination of SMOOTH Gear Cutting technology and fully optimized machine tool platforms; HOT WIRE deposition (HWD), a fast additive manufacturing solution that utilizes an arc torch in addition to lasers; and both single and multi-laser metal deposition for the ultimate in additive manufacturing (AM).

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