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Method and apparatus for locally clamping components that are to be joined by friction stir welding

Image Number 2 for United States Patent #7490750.

The apparatus (50) includes a friction stir welding tool (100), a local clamping means (200), and an interface (300) that joins the tool (100) and the local clamping means (200). The local clamping means (200) is in close proximity to the at least one sidewall (130) of the tool (100) and has a housing (210) and a plurality of contact devices (220). The local clamping means (200) transfers a clamping force to the first and the second components (C1, C2) and holds them firmly in place during welding. The local clamping means (200) includes a plurality of contact devices (220) that may take the form of casters, rollers (222), and ball bearings (224). The location of the contact devices (220) is significant as external clamping is greatly reduced, and often eliminated, as the contact devices (220) are brought into close proximity to the area of the weld.

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