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UNO Achieves Milestone in Shipbuilding
By Dr. Whittenburg (on 4/4/2012 @ 12:52:33, in Vice President Ramblings, read 1215 times)
The University of New Orleans has achieved a milestone in titanium shipbuilding research at its National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM), located at the NASA Michoud Facility in New Orleans East. Engineers are pioneering a technique called friction stir welding, in which metal pieces are welded together without melting them, causing less damage to the materials. The longest of the welds is more than 16 feet, which is more than twice as long as the previous record for a continuous titanium friction stir weld. The titanium shipbuilding project is being financed by a three-year $4.8 million dollar grant from the Office of Naval Research. The purpose of the research is to advance the science and technology of titanium shipbuilding. Using a special robotic welding tool at NCAM, engineers produced a completed titanium panel, approximately 20-feet by 10-feet. The panel will be part of an experimental, full-scale titanium mid-ship section. Titanium alloys offer advantages over steels and aluminum alloys traditionally used in shipbuilding. They are more resistant to corrosion, have a high strength-to-weight ratio and have a high resistance to fatigue. Pingsha Dong, a professor in UNO’s School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and director of UNO’s Welded Structures Laboratory, says that despite these advantages, the cost of materials and the lack of robust welding and joining techniques have prevented the shipbuilding industry from realizing the potential of titanium for shipbuilding applications. The progress of UNO’s titanium shipbuilding project has earned considerable attention in the maritime media including Maritime Reporter & Engineering News and Seapower magazine.