Massive lightweighting machine to be installed at LIFT facility in Detroit

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow facility to house 122,000-pound machine
Device was developed by Manufacturing Technology Inc. of South Bend, Ind.

Equipment to be used for research and development in aerospace, automotive industries

A massive one-of-its-kind machine machine for lightweighting research and development is headed to the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow facility in Detroit.

Manufacturing Technology Inc. of South Bend, Ind., built and delivered the LF35-75 linear friction welder to be stationed at LIFT’s 100,000-square-foot testing and training facility on Rosa Parks Boulevard. There MTI and LIFT will share the 122,000-pound machine — approximately the same weight as a Boeing 737 airplane — for research in the automotive and aerospace sectors, a news release said.

LIFT looks to build lightweighting blisks and integrally bladed rotars for aircraft engines and automotives.

“Deploying a machine such as this linear friction welder will increase our lightweighting research and development exponentially,” LIFT CEO and Executive Director Nigel Francis said in a news release. “We are thrilled to have MTI as a partner and thankful for their willingness to develop and deliver such an impressive piece of equipment for us here in Detroit.”

It is said to have the largest tooling envelope of any linear friction welder in the world and can produce large full-scale parts. MTI, which will run and maintain the machine, will continue to use it to fulfill customer orders and assist LIFT’s projects. MTI will send one of its engineers and one support staffer to Detroit to work on machine projects.

“This is the only machine of its kind in the world, and we are extremely excited about the possibilities this machine brings moving forward,” MTI President and CEO Dan Adams said in the release. “Our North American customers in the aerospace, automotive, defense, rail, and mining industries have been looking for a machine that is capable of full-scale parts. Previously, these customers would have to travel all the way to Europe. But now, they have access to this technology right here in Detroit.”

The LF35-75 should arrive this week, Bessee said. Once installed in a pit at the LIFT facility, just the top third of the machine will be visible. It will be commissioned and ready to go by the middle part of the first quarter of 2019, he said.

LIFT is a public-private partnership of the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute partially funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.