Steelwork without welding?

Simon Slamka
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It is possible!

With new technology we are able to think of new innovative ways of manufacturing. Even for something like steelwork. We have worked on a project to design, fabricate and install a lightweight steel structure inside a paint shop building for one of the leading European car manufacturers. We set ourselves the goal to come up with a design that will utilise the possibilities of our new 3D plasma cutting machine, while offloading our welding shop. The key was to create a joint of 4 different profiles that will be bolted on site and manufactured without welding. Seemingly impossible, but there is a way.

The whole structure was designed from hollow tubes, pipes and bent C-shaped profiles. The individual sections were made from tubes, connected between each other with C-shaped profiles and bracing was made from pipes. The tubes were 3D cut by plasma to form an interlocking connection with rivet nuts installed in one of them. The interlock would hold the sections together so it was possible to easily install the connecting C-shaped profiles. After that, all profiles were bolted together by fixing on the rivet nuts. This created a strong connection which was easy to install, fast to manufacture and there was no welding.

It has to be noted that the C-shaped profiles had bent end plates which are usually welded, but in this case, to avoid welding we just used 2mm thicker steel. Also adjustable feet to level the floor differences were used. These are standard across the range with welding involved.

Safety and efficiency of the design have been approved by certified statical engineer.

Steelwork without welding?