Project Summary

The average steel car body uses thousands of resistance welds during construction. Researchers with the Centre for Advanced Materials Joining (CAMJ) at University of Waterloo collaborated with Huys Industries to develop an innovative modular weld head assembly. The patent-pending design creates welds of equivalent strength and lifespan compared to traditional weld heads, with an 80% reduction in material and labour costs, a simplified maintenance process, and significant waste reduction. Huys invests heavily in its R&D programs, and plans to continue its decades-long partnership with CAMJ at Waterloo.

Weld head comparison

“Our 20-year relationship with CAMJ at Waterloo has thrived due to their excellent science and engineering reputation, state-of-the-art facilities and practical research experience.”

– Nigel Scotchmer, President, Huys Industries Limited

Partner

Huys Logo

Huys Industries, founded in 1981, is a privately held SME that is a world leader in resistance welding and related joining and coating techniques. Huys has approximately 40 employees between its facilities in Toronto, ON, Chatham, ON and Michigan, USA. The company invests significantly in R&D projects and has had a strong, collaborative relationship with the University of Waterloo for nearly two decades. In fact, approximately 10% of the Huys workforce is comprised of Waterloo graduates.

Challenge

The average steel car body uses up to 6,000 welds, more than 80% of which are resistance welds (including spot and projection welds). Projection welding traditionally uses a piece known as the weld head, which has a solid tungsten-copper bottom electrode. The existing weld heads can only be machined twice before wearing out and must be fully replaced. This project investigated a method to reduce the high cost of replacing these weld heads.

Solution

Researchers with the Centre for Advanced Materials Joining (CAMJ), part of WatCAR Manufacturing at University of Waterloo worked closely with Huys to develop and test a Quick Release Modular Head assembly. This design requires replacement of only the washer portion rather than the entire weld head. The process can be easily performed by clicking the washer out and clicking a new one into place, with the added benefit of consistent height of the weld head, whereas the re-machined surface on a regular head required height adjustments.

CAMJ researchers evaluated the performance and life span of the quick release design in comparison to the regular weld head. The final modular design iteration was found to create welds of equivalent strength and lifespan with much lower replacement costs–an 80% reduction in costs compared to traditional weld heads. For Huys’ automotive manufacturing customers, this translates to not only cost savings, but also a simplified, efficient maintenance process and significant waste reduction.

Additional information on the modular weld head specifications can be found on Huys website.

Comparison of regular, quick release and modular weld heads.

Impact

Huys began commercialization of the Quick-Release Modular Head in 2019 and plans to continue its roll out in the coming years. In addition, over $250,000 in equipment has been invested in Huys’ Chatham facility related to this project.

The patent-pending Quick Release Modular assembly lowers customer cost by providing a simplified maintenance process, interchangeable parts, and reduced waste. Huys can customize the product to meet the needs of their automotive manufacturing customers.

Future

Huys invests heavily in its R&D programs, and plans to continue its decades-long partnership with CAMJ at Waterloo. In an interview with Business Elite Canada, Huys President Nigel Scotchmer indicated Huys plans to expand its global footprint while Huys to embraces its Canadian roots. “We want to stay in Canada. We want to manufacture in Canada. I want to keep jobs in Canada because that’s where I live, that’s where my family is from. We are Canadian,” Scotchmer said.