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Joining Innovations, LLC

The company was established in February 2012 to manufacture and market both conventional and advanced non-consumable, interchangeable tool bits, called Stirbits®, to industry and research customers utilizing and/or investigating the use of friction stir (FS) technologies.

Manager & President

Dr. Dwight Burford

Dr. Dwight Burford is a professional metallurgical engineer with 16 years of experience in manufacturing research and development. After working in the aerospace industry, he spent seven years directing a university research lab and supervising the research work of undergraduate students, graduate students, and research staff with funds from private industry contracts, research center memberships, and government grants.

Dr. Burford has a combined 16 years of industry, academic, and consulting experience focused on friction stir-related technologies.  He currently holds multiple patents and patent applications relating to friction stir welding. Three of his tool-related patents and one patent application are featured on this website in the form of friction stir non-consumable, interchangeable tool bits referred to here as Stirbits®.  These include tools with Wiper™ shoulder features and the CounterFlow™ probe features, and/or tools with Mandrel™ probe configurations.

During Dr. Burford’s work in aerospace, he also conducted manufacturing research and development projects and/or provided factory support in the following areas: machining, fusion welding, forming operations (e.g. stretch, die, etc.), superplastic forming, heat treatment, residual stress management, quality assurance, and new alloy evaluations. His skills include a variety of engineering and analysis techniques, including metallography, mechanical testing, failure analysis, residual stress analysis, 3D scanning, design of experiments (DOE), statistical process control (SPC), finite element analysis (FEA), and Computer Aided Design (CAD).  His manufacturing experience includes CNC machining, friction stir welding and processing, and many related shop skills.

Curriculum Vitae / Linked-in Profile

Consulting Services

FS related services include:

  • designing and manufacturing FS tool bits (commodity code 8207909100),
  • developing and optimizing FS process parameters,
  • analyzing individual FS runs utilizing e-NDE Elements™ for FS processes,
  • designing and providing design guidance of joints and FS processing patterns for implementing FS technologies, and
  • providing failure analysis investigation services for both general investigations and for FS investigations in particular.

Licensed Technologies

Joining Innovations, LLC has licensed patented technology held by Dr. Dwight A. Burford.  These include:

  • US Patent 8,016,179, which was issued in 2011 for a shoulder feature innovation, trademarked the Wiper™.  It is designed to produce lower surface roughness and higher joint performance than joints produced with conventional scrolled shoulders.
  • US Patent 7,942,306 was issued in 2011 for a probe feature innovation, trademarked the Counterflow™.   It is designed to enhance mixing with minimal vertical flow within the stir zone for improved joint consolidation.
  • US Patent 8,579,180 was issued in 2013 for a new probe innovation, trademarked the Mandrel™.  It is designed to improve productivity by enabling higher relative travel speeds (compared to conventional tool designs) and to raise the overall quality of the stir zone.
  • US Patent Application, which was filed in 2015, for shaped probe profiles having controlled metal flow features.  These tools are trademarked under Stirbits® as Helibit™, Heli-bit™, E-bit™, e-bit™, El-bit™, Elliptical-bit™, Parabit™, Para-bit™, Bolabit™ and/or Bola-bit™.

Industry Need

Use of FS-based technologies to address the demanding needs of applications found in a range of manufacturing industries, e.g. transportation and container industries, over the past several decades have matured and guided the development of these technologies. While there have been a variety of different sources developed for providing non-consumable, interchangeable tool bits for FS technologies during this time, few dedicated commercial offerings of these perishable tools have been established to support the growing demand for perishable tools by the FS industry. Further complicating the matter, standards for non-consumable FS tool bits have not as yet been established. Few catalogs of general-use FS tools are available to customers like they are for end mills or drills. Therefore, the focus of Joining Innovations, LLC is to establish a series of FS non-consumable, perishable tools in support of the standardization and commercialization of the same.

Industries Served

A growing number of manufacturing companies in the transportation and container industries have been using or are preparing to use FS technologies in the fabrication of their industry-specific structures.  With the conclusion of the original license for the technology in 2015, it is anticipated that the number of different companies utilizing these technologies will greatly expand over the next several decades.

Professional Mission

The professional mission of Joining Innovations, LLC is to promote the standardization of interchangeable, non-consumable FS tools through:

  • Standard Tools:  Provide multiple series of “standard” commercially available tools incorporating a variety of tool design features, including a systematic listing for selecting tools for individual applications.
  • Industry Standards:  Serve on applicable committees of professional standards organizations to provide service and expertise and to supply technical information.
  • Education & Training:  Offer workshops and training on FS technologies and process development.
  • Equipment Solutions: Develop cost-effective approaches to deploy FS technologies, for example, an FSSW end effector for robotic applications.
  • Design Data:  Generate and publish design data for FS materials and joints to assist designers in incorporating the various FS technologies in production applications.

Business Mission

The primary mission of Joining Innovations, LLC is to design, fabricate, and market non-consumable perishable tools for FS-based technologies, including friction stir welding, friction stir spot welding, and friction stir processing. The company provides replaceable, non-consumable tools featuring the following benefits:

    • High quality tools made with state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, high-performance materials, and advanced coatings.
    • Precise, consistent tool configuration control.
    • Tool designs developed for demanding industry applications.
    • Advanced, patented tool features designed to increase productivity.
  • Low-cost perishable tool solutions.