Interlocking tubes and laser welding create high-strength, lightweight panel structures.
A new way of forming lightweight sandwich panels has been developed by TWI, the industrial fastening research group.
Machined or extruded tubes form the interior of the sandwich. On the outer surface of each tube are simple male and female connections in the form of studs or slots. Once connected, the tubes become mechanically locked in a solid array in the X-Y plane. External skins are stake welded to the top and bottom of the array using a CO2 or Nd/YAG laser to penetrate the material from the outside. The result is a high-strength sandwich panel, rigid in all three directions.
TWI has given the name Ex-Struct to the concept. Materials that may be used in its manufacture include steel, alloys, and plastics.
Paul Burling, TWI, Cambridge, UK; Tel: +44 1223 891162; Fax: +44 1223 892588; E-mail: Paul.Burling@twi.co.uk.
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