University of Derby Patents Diffusion Bonding Technology

May 23, 2016

A team of academics and engineers from the University of Derby and its partners including University of Wolverhampton, HS Martin and BAE Systems have invented and patented a new form of solid state diffusion bonding (SSDB) that is set to revolutionise welding technologies.

Diffusion bonding is a welding technique whereby similar or dissimilar metals can be fused through the application of heat to create new structures. During the process atoms diffuse across the edge of two separate metals to create a solid state joint. This forms a very strong joint between different metals without deforming them and so can be used to bring together physically and chemically different metals in a wide range of applications. These include aero-space fabrication, heat exchangers, laminate die tooling and cellular material fabrication to name just a few.

The current processes for diffusion bonding are time consuming and expensive. With such wide spread applications, a simpler, cheaper and quicker method has the potential to open up a whole host of new opportunities leading to rapid advances in technology.

The new invention identified a number of variables that affect the process such as pressure applied and temperature. Through adjusting these variables to achieve the optimum conditions, a diffusion bonding process can now be completed in 30 seconds where previously it would be at least 8 hours.

Professor Richard Hall, Director of Research, Innovation & Impact at the University of Derby, and one of the inventors of the new technology, said: “This invention was borne out of a combination and integration of technologies, people and expertise. Between us we have more than 20 years’ experience of hot working and joining of performance materials, and worked with a partner (Ajax Tocco) who had a non-contact heating process. The idea couldn’t have worked without computer simulation to aid the development process. We are seeking to demonstrate further prior to seeking further investment to commercialise.”

Swindell & Pearson worked with the university on securing patent protection for the process. Talking about the challenge of securing a patent for a process, patent attorney Christine Anglesea commented, “It was important for us to ensure that the patent covered both the process and the apparatus used in the process to ensure that we obtained the best possible scope of protection for the university”.

So next time you’re jetting off on holiday, the plane you’re boarding could well have been made using the University of Derby’s patented bonding diffusion technology.

Swindell & Pearson has successfully worked with a number of leading UK universities helping them to protect and commercialise their intellectual property rights. If you are a university and you’re interested in finding out how Swindell & Pearson can represent you, please get in touch with Christine Anglesea at [email protected]. Christine is an IP director and head of Swindell & Pearson’s university team. She has been successfully working with academics and tech transfer offices for over 10 years.