North America’s Largest Linear Friction Welder Now Operational at LIFT in Detroit

The first and only linear friction welder capable of full-sized part development in North America is now fully operational and ready for project work at LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a national manufacturing innovation facility operated by the American Lightweight Materials Innovation Institute, in Detroit.

The friction welder, built and installed by Manufacturing Technology Inc. (MTI) has the largest tooling capacity of any linear friction welder in the world. This allows for the production of the largest full-scale parts available. Previously, companies interested in using a linear friction welder of this scope would have to travel to Europe.

The LF35-75 is 22’ x 8 x 14’ and weighs 122,000 lb. (61 metric tons)—roughly the same weight as a Boeing 737.

Currently, linear friction welding technology is used in aerospace to achieve light-weighting blisks and integrally bladed rotors to aircraft engines. With the machine being available for research and development, LIFT and its partners will explore how this technology could benefit other industries, specifically automotive and defense.

“We encourage companies—both large and small—to reach out to us at LIFT to see how this machine and our other services can help them achieve their goals,” said Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director, LIFT.

“We are thrilled to have this machine up and running in Detroit,” said MTI President and CEO Dan Adams. “From aerospace, automotive, defense, rail, and mining industries, our customers have been looking for a machine that is capable of full-scale parts, and now they have it right down the road in Detroit.”

In order to best serve North American customers, MTI and LIFT will have shared capacity of the machine.

The South Bend, Ind.-based MTI will run and maintain the machine at LIFT’s facility in Detroit. MTI will also complete customer-directed work on the machine and support any programs that LIFT has moving forward.