Welding in the aerospace industry has seen some very fascinating and exciting developments in recent years. The ever improving knowledge of welding material, designs and welding as a whole are paving the way for welding being implemented in aeronautics.
Welds have been replacing rivets and bolts since World War 2 and hence, has become a favourite for the military, ship building and the aeronautics industry. This is for the simple reason that welding is cost-effective as compared to rivets, welds require less year-on-year maintenance, welding is structurally sound while being light-weight and rivets simply just add on to the weight of the aircraft or of the project.
Preferred types of welding in this industry are diffusion welding, laser welding and electron-beam welding. There are a few other very promising welding methods which are slowly gaining popularity and establishing quick effects too. These are, friction stir welding and variable polarity plasma welding.
While welding in aerospace is making ground-breaking improvements, there are certain challenges that are posed in the aerospace & defense industry. Let’s have a look at those:
Materials used in welding for the aerospace and defense industry are often different from the common usage. Why? They need more malleable, ductile yet at the same time sturdy and lightweight metals.
Thus, ‘exotic’ metals and materials are used in aerospace applications. These are materials like stainless steel, and aluminium to begin with and high-end materials like inconel and titanium are widespread.
Complex Joint Designs
With unique and new structures in this industry, there are many complex joints and designs that have to be aced. Welding is the right choice for it, because rivets cannot do a job as smooth and seamless and very importantly, as lightweight as welding can. This requires efficient processes in the assembly line as well as the best of the best methods of welding.
For the purposes of overcoming the challenge of joints and uncommon designs of megastructures, electron-beam welding and laser welding are the best choices to weld two complicated parts and metals.
In case of both aerospace as well as military counterparts of it, airtight sealing is required to protect sensitive material, both electronic and otherwise. Expensive gear that has to be uncompromised at all points, without any other failures and at all costs need this hermetic approach to be followed through.
This would not be possible without welding, and thus welding is not just a great choice, but also a must.
High thermal conductivity
Most metals, alloys and materials used in these industries have a very high thermal conductivity. Along with this, these materials also have a high crack sensitivity which makes it challenging for the welder.
The materials are difficult to weld with the common methods of welding since high standards of quality, airtight sealing and more is required of them. Therefore, more advanced ways of welding like electron-beam welding and laser welding are the preferred methods.
These are a few among the many challenges that one faces in the aerospace industry while welding. But it’s a vast universe in itself, and a very interesting one at that!