MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH)– The world’s largest welding machine arrived in Middletown early this morning.
The machine rolled into the Pratt and Whitney parking lot early around midnight. It arrived in style from Indiana on a 200-foot long flatbed truck.
“It’s a 19-axle, 200 foot long monster,” is how Pratt & Whitney Project Manager Ken Ferner described it.
The machine is so heavy that it has a truck in the front and in the back to help push it. The truck left Indiana three weeks ago. That’s where Manufacturing Technologies built what’s on board the truck – the world’s largest linear friction welder. What is friction welding?
“It’s like taking two pieces of metal, rubbing them together and pushing them together until they bond,” Ferner explained.
This linear friction welder is so big that it had to take a very non-linear route to get from Indiana to Connecticut. It’s so tall, it couldn’t go under a lot of bridges, and it’s so heavy that it couldn’t go over some other bridges.
“It took an exit, it went 30 miles north, crossed a bridge and came back down one exit further on the highway and got back on,” Ferner said. “Just to show you the types of detours they had to take in order to use bridges that could support the load.”
The welder will make the fan blades you see at the front of jet engines. It’s part of a 400 million dollar expansion of Pratt and Whitney in Connecticut designed to keep up with current and future contracts.
“This is a key element of that growth,” said Pratt & Whitney General Manager Greg Treacy. “It’s going to double our capacity and it’s going to allow us to make the part that we need for our customers.”
They will be making those parts in Connecticut, which is good news for the local Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s going to be, in the long run, more jobs,” said Middlesex Chamber President Larry McHugh, “but more importantly is their major commitment to the state of Connecticut and Middletown.”
Pratt & Whitney certainly is committed, because they sure do not want to move this enormous machine again.