Project Announcement: Machine Learning for Advanced Lightweight Vehicle Structures

The US Department of Defense is partnering with industry and academia on an initiative to enable the use of advanced materials for achieving lighter weight vehicles. Specifically, this project will investigate how to employ friction stir welding (FSW) in the durable joining of lighter weight multi-materials and traditionally non-weldable materials.

The most promising material solutions identified for application in lighter weight bodies and chassis include advanced high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites, and combinations of these as mixed-material systems. While these materials show great promise, the DOE Vehicle Technologies (VTO) and the U.S. Drive Partnership have identified that joining solutions are the most significant challenges to overcome for these multi-material systems.

FSW provides a reliable and proven joining solution due to its solid-state process characteristics’ ability to provide superior weld strength when joining multi-materials. Concerns from industry are that FSW requires a unique knowledge base which is unique when compared to conventional fusion welding, thus to acquire the quality, consistency and benefits of FSW requires an experienced individual from an extremely limited workforce.

This initiative’s objective is to develop and integrate sensors and software to enable Machine Learning (ML) for the FSW process. This will allow this solid-state joining technology to be self-correcting, while not requiring a subject matter expert, and thus allowing easy industry implementation. Other objectives include:

  • Develop a high-level functioning FSW process control system able to make dynamic process adjustments based on welding conditions.
  • Develop a FSW manufacturing cell capable of welding large items such as vehicle hulls utilizing manipulators and multiple FSW heads.
  • Produce an FSW manufacturing cell to demonstrate the technology while working to perform technology transitions allowing the effort to become fully realized and utilized.

If you feel your organization has the technical capabilities and would like to be considered for this project, please complete the form below and upload your organization’s technical capabilities statement.

Interested Submissions Due by 8/22/2023.

We encourage participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), including Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs).