Welding Challenges in Spacecraft Manufacturing and How to Overcome Them

Welding Challenges in Spacecraft Manufacturing and How to Overcome Them

We may not often think about welding, but it plays a crucial role in almost every manufacturing-related industry. It is used to build cars, bridges, skyscrapers, and even kitchen appliances, making it the backbone of the American economy.

Welding is so essential that without it, humans would have never been able to explore space, as we wouldn’t have been able to build satellites or spacecrafts.

But, as you’d imagine, welding for spacecraft manufacturing isn’t easy. Building a vehicle that travels at incredible speeds into the vacuum of space requires immense KnowHow and talent to pull off.

Let’s look at some challenges spacecraft manufacturers face and how welding processes have evolved to tackle them.

Welding Challenges in Spacecraft Manufacturing

Spacecrafts must be made from lightweight and high-strength materials that are both corrosion and heat-resistant.

This involves working with metals like titanium or aluminum alloys, for example. While these materials offer all the benefits that spacecraft need to function efficiently, it makes the welding process a lot more complicated.

But that’s not all — even with the right expertise in numerous processes, welders must ensure they follow all the latest safety regulations while adjusting to constantly evolving and complex designs. Every weld is held to the highest standard in the aerospace industry, and anything less than perfection can be disastrous.

At the end of the day, the stakes are much higher for welders in the aerospace industry than they are for DIY hobbyists. Even a tiny miscalculation, defect, or inconsistency can increase the risk of leaks, fires, and waste millions of dollars.

How Welding Has Evolved to Adapt

Given the complexity of aerospace manufacturing, experts are constantly testing and introducing new and innovative welding processes to help the industry Forge Forward

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding, for instance, was once the most popular process in spacecraft manufacturing. It was known for creating smooth, non-porous welds that could handle immense pressure.

But these days, other processes, such as plasma or friction stir welding, are entering the mainstream. The latter was, in fact, used to great success in building NASA’s Orion —  making it the first spacecraft to be manufactured entirely with friction stir welds. Experts realized that this process would cut down on the number of welds required and help reduce the aircraft’s weight without compromising on any functionality.

With these new technologies, welders can improve aircraft efficiency, reduce weight, and strengthen structural integrity.

Furthermore, by embracing automation, these welds can be made faster, free of human error, and more efficiently. This allows spacecraft manufacturers to save time and resources while ensuring that all safety protocols are followed. 

Weld Faster and Better with nexAir

As the aerospace industry constantly looks for ways to improve technology and make manufacturing more efficient, welding processes must rise to the challenge.

No one knows this better than nexAir.

One of the leading suppliers of welding equipment across the Southeast, nexAir has shared its KnowHow with several industries, including the aerospace sector. Since the 1940s, we’ve helped our customers Forge Forward, with the latest welding processes and equipment. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.

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