Friction stir welding (FSW) is a solid-state joining process that uses a non-consumable tool to join two facing workpieces without melting the workpiece material. Heat is generated by friction between the rotating tool and the workpiece material, which leads to a softened region near the FSW tool. While the tool is traversed along the joint line, it mechanically intermixes the two pieces of metal, and forges the hot and softened metal by the mechanical pressure, which is applied by the tool, much like joining clay, or dough. It is primarily used on wrought or extruded aluminium and particularly for structures which need very high weld strength.
It was invented and experimentally proven at The Welding Institute (TWI) in the UK in December 1991. TWI held patents on the process, the first being the most descriptive.