INEEL Engineer Advances Friction Stir Welding

The American Welding Society today awarded its A. F. Davis Silver Medal to Engineering Fellow Herschel Smartt, Ph.D. - for significant research in controlling robotic friction stir welding - during the Society's 85th Annual Convention in Chicago. This is the second Davis Silver Medal for Smartt, who leads the Metals Joining and Manufacturing Group for the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Smartt's research colleagues from Vanderbilt University were also recognized.

The research paper that earned Smartt and others this recognition appeared in the Society's Welding Journal in 2003 and was selected by the Society's awards committee as the year's best contribution to the advancement of welding technology in machine design.

Friction stir welding, invented and patented by The Welding Institute, is a solid phase process that joins high-strength alloys to form high-integrity weld joints without melting the metal. The benefits of friction stir welding include fewer microstructural flaws and defects, highly consistent welding performance and real-world applications in automotive, aerospace, marine and rail industries.

"The significance of Herschel's and his co-researchers' findings cannot be overstated," said Marty Sorensen, INEEL Industrial and Materials Technologies department manager,  "because they demonstrated that for robotic friction stir welding, the use of force feedback is much better than position feedback to make superior welds."

Smartt said, "We discovered that to control optimum weld conditions, instrumentation needs to directly sense the force being applied to the welding tool, and the feedback used to maintain the applied force as its position changes and the weld is made. With this knowledge, robotic welding equipment can be designed for greater efficiency and flexibility in welding different shapes and types of materials."

Smartt has over 33 years of research and development experience in manufacturing materials, processing, machine design and intelligent machines. He chairs the Society's R&D Committee and is an ex-officio member of the Government Affairs Liaison Committee.

"What means the most to me about this field of work and this recognition, is the chance I've had to interact with a larger community and provide some benefit," said Smartt. "I've especially enjoyed serving on several Society committees, where we've awarded thousands of dollars in grants and fellowships to the next generation of welding researchers."

Smartt received the INEEL Lifetime Achievement Award for Inventorship in 2003. Over his career, he has received 14 patents, has authored 59 technical papers, two book chapters and 18 technical reports and given 58 presentations for national and international conferences. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he received bachelor's degrees in anthropology and mechanical engineering, and masters and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering.

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