The friction stir welding technique is known to have major advantages over traditional welding technology.

The research team at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Transport in Russia has been developing multiple types of composites with an aluminum matrix to increase stiffness and enhance the mechanical properties of structures like bridges, as well as new technologies for joining these composites together. The focus is on the development of a new aluminum alloy friction stir welding technology for bridge construction.

This alternative welding method is much more economical due to its faster welding speed, very efficient to use in construction and overall the most cost-effective option. Researchers determined that when constructing pedestrian bridges, the new high-strength aluminum alloy successfully competes with traditional steel in stiffness and corrosion resistance.

aluminum structures are much lighter than steel. Source: Adobe Stock/dbviragoaluminum structures are much lighter than steel. Source: Adobe Stock/dbvirago

Additionally, aluminum structures are much lighter than steel, so these bridges are easier to build and are more cost-effective in the long run. For example, steel bridges mechanically fluctuate with temperature, so when temperatures are lower, the metal becomes brittle. This does not happen with aluminum. Compared to steel, aluminum bridges can be installed quickly and easily with no special equipment like heavy cranes. This dramatically speeds up the construction process, making for a revolutionary technology that we will likely see with more and more pedestrian bridges in the future.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com