20 years of
friction stir welding

The advantages of FSW:

  • Strengths of 80 - 100% of the parent material
  • High degree of weld-strength
  • Gas- and pressure-tight
  • Little distortion 
  • Usually no pre- or post-processing required

RIFTEC is friction stir welding

Never heard of friction stir welding before? You're not alone.


Have you heard of it and would like to know more?

In either case, you have come to the right place, because we have been in friction stir welding for 20 years – first in research, then in industry. Here in Geesthacht we have brought together the greatest FSW experience and expertise in all of Germany.

I regard RIFTEC as a pioneering company and one of the very first companies to develop friction technology commercially in Germany. (…) Axel and Alex ‘pinned their colours to the mast’- they championed the technology when others were unsure.

Wayne Thomas, inventor of friction stir welding at TWI in Cambridge

The process is remarkably simple. A special rotary tool runs along the joint between two workpieces, with the shoulder of the tool riding on the edges of the joint. The rotation and the pressure exerted generates heat by friction, which plasticises the material. On its path along the joint, the tool stirs the material of the two workpieces and compresses it at the same time. The result is a very solid joint.

Schematic representation of the friction stir welding process


Wear-resistant tools create frictional heat and exert pressure on the joining area. The fixing of the components and a solid base ensure that the horizontal and vertical process forces are absorbed.

The friction between the rotating tool and the material gives rise to the heat necessary for plasticization.

The tool is moved along the joining area and stirs the plasticized material in the interior of the seam.
The applied force presses the material together. At the end of the seam, the tool is withdrawn from the joining area. The weld seam is immediately fit to withstand normal use.

Friction stir welding – The Process

Friction stir welding – The Process




Which materials can be joined?

  • We weld mostly aluminium alloys, but also copper and magnesium as well as dissimilar metals such as AL-Cu and Al-steel.


How thick can the material be?

  • Penetration is between 0.8 and 20 mm. The workpieces themselves can certainly be thicker, since the high weld strength sometimes makes it unnecessary to weld right through. Alternatively, we can turn the component over and do another weld on the opposite side.


What geometries can be joined by the FSW method?

  • The majority of the components are joined through butt or lap welding, and T-welds are also possible. Butt welds are used not only for pieces of the same thickness, but also of different thicknesses, called tailored blanks, which we friction stir weld in bulk.


What semi-finished products are suitable?

  • We weld aluminium sheet, profiles and castings as well as dissimilar joints in these products. The process is especially effective in castings, as any pores that there might be have no effect whatsoever in friction stir welding.


For which branches of industry do you weld?

  • Our customers operate in all conceivable sectors – basically, the application possibilities are unlimited.


Do you also sell friction stir welding installations?

  • No, we use our machines ourselves. We only provide services for FSW and the pre- and post-welding machining.


Does FSW also work multidimensionally?

  • Yes, we have various installations for friction stir welding. On the five-axis machines we can also do curved or 3D welds.