Element Six to develop PCBN tools for EU friction stir welding research programme

March 2, 2021

Element Six will develop polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) friction stir welding (FSW) tools as a participant in the EU research project RESURGAM (Courtesy Element Six)

Element Six, headquartered in Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK, part of the De Beers Group, reports that it is participating as a tooling solutions provider in a European Union (EU) research initiative to scale friction stir welding (FSW) for mass adoption in the shipping industry.

RESURGAM (Robotic Survey, Repair & Agile Manufacture) is a research programme that was established to improve the productivity of shipyards fabricating new, advanced technology vessels and increasing their access to specialist repair and maintenance.

FSW is high integrity, low distortion and environmentally-benign welding technique allowing the automated production of high-strength welds. The technique, which also works underwater, is said to offer a combination of improved quality, production speeds and cost efficiencies.

As part of the RESURGAM programme, Element Six will develop specialised polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) FSW tools with a range of sizes for welding steels that are required for various marine applications. The €6 million research project is funded by the EU Commission and will involve leading researchers and shipyards from nine European countries. Element Six will work alongside a range of groups, including The Welding Institute (TWI), leading researchers from shipyards, other manufacturing industries and academia.

Leveraging over forty years of market-leading PCBN material expertise in cutting tools, Element Six has already worked closely with The Welding Institute (TWI) to demonstrate that PCBN FSW tools offer significantly extended tool life and superior weld quality in steel.

FSW is already widely used for manufacturing aluminium materials and Element Six explains that a crucial part of the research project will be the transfer of FSW technology into the welding of steel, which reportedly accounts for the vast majority of global metals production. Success will enable the construction and ongoing maintenance of larger, stronger and stiffer shipping vessels.

The company brings to the market its capability to produce reliable, consistent and long-life PCBN FSW tools for welding of steel – an important competitive advantage that removes barriers for widespread industrial adoption of its solutions in a wide range of applications including oil, gas & water pipelines, automotive, aerospace and energy.

Abhishek Tanwar, Sales Director for Grits and Distribution at Element Six, commented, “We are delighted to be involved in the RESURGAM initiative as an advanced tooling solution provider. Friction stir welding has the potential to transform the manufacturing and repair of steel structures through better joints, as well as safer and more eco-friendly processes.”

“Thanks to their excellent high temperature and hardness properties, our PCBN tools are uniquely equipped to deliver this,” he continued. “The RESURGAM programme is another important step towards more widespread adoption of a welding technique that will significantly improve productivity and reduce environmental impact in the shipping industry.


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