Welding together high-strength metals using standard methods can be challenging because the high heat temperatures and re-solidification process can weaken the metal along the bond.
Researchers at the Ohio State University Impulse Manufacturing Laboratory, lead by materials science professor Glenn Haehn, have developed a new welding system that uses a high-voltage capacitor bank to produce a very short electrical pulse within a thin piece of aluminum foil.
As the foil vaporizes, the resulting hot gas pushes the metal pieces together very rapidly, joining them without melting. The welded bond is made by impact, so there is no seam of weakened metal from melting. This new process is called VFA - vaporized foil actuator welding.
John Kosowatz, senior editor with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has posted a fascinating article about VFA, New Welding Process Joins High-Strength Metals, that includes an interview with Haehn and links explaining the new welding workings.
Haehn has patented the VFA techniques and says they suit the automotive manufacturing process well and intends to continue research into other commercial applications.