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Recent developments in fusion processing of aluminium alloys

Professor Stewart Williams Director Welding Engineering and Laser Processing Centre

Presentation overview
Weld metal engineering for 2024 alloy
Requirement for crack free welding Microstructural modelling of optimal compositions Production of crack free welds in 2024 alloy

Joining of aluminium to steel seam welding Additive manufacture of aluminium materials

What is additive manufacture Additive manufacture of aluminium Latest developments in additive manufacture

Aluminium armour: new materials?

New state of the art Al- alloys have substantially higher static properties than standard armour alloys (30 - 150% greater) Compositions and tempers designed to combat stress corrosion
700 600 3rd gen. 2nd gen.
2099 T8E67 7055 T7751

Yield Stress (L) MPa

500 400 300 200 100 0 0

1st gen.

Standard Armour Alloys

7020T651 5083H131





Fracture Toughness (LT) MPa m

Ballistic testing FFV and Frag summary.

All V50

Compromise position for optimum FRAG performance

700 650
V50 (ms-1)


600 550 500 450 50 75 100 125

VHN (5kg)

7010-W51 7010-T7+ 7010-HAZ200 7017-T6 2024-T351

150 175 200

2124-T851 2624 T851 No stress corrosion cracking!

But it needs to be fusion weldable

FFV round Bullet..

Frag. - 20mm diameter steel plug.

Problems in fusion welding 2024

2024 is highly crack sensitive and is considered unweldable Filler wire issues
Available filler wires typically binary base materials are ternary No commercial aluminium filler wires have been developed and marketed since 1960s Only filler for 2XXX series is binary 2319 (6%Cu) originally developed for binary 2219 (6%Cu) base material. Cost of development is prohibitive and one off prototype filler wires have variable quality Elemental recipe is highly subjective A large range of fillers must be developed for the range of alloys

Solution Combine modern developments in materials modelling with technological welding advances to provide a quick and cost effective method of defining near optimum weld compositions

Avoidance of Cracking - Microstructural Modelling

80 60 6% Cu Filler Approx target composition 0.16
Volume Fraction Eutectic Liquid Solidification Temp. Range (oC)

0.12 0.1 0.08


5% Mg 0.06 Filler 0.04

0.02 0
Wt% Mg content for fixed 4.3 Wt% Cu

Large freezing range or small fraction of Eutectic liquid leads to the likelihood of cracking

Summary compositions of Al/Cu/Mg alloy System (2xxx series)

Target Compositions
Binary 6%Cu wire Crack susceptible Ideal 2024 composition
3 2 1 5

wt.% Cu

Binary 5% Mg wire Highly crack susceptible


wt.% Mg 2024 mid range composition - 4.3% Cu, 1.5% MG

Weld metal engineering using a tandem torch with different wire compositions, sizes and feed rates

Fusion Welding Avoidance of Cracking Multiple Wires

Binary 6% Cu wire cracks in sequence Binary 6% Cu wire cracks in weld 2 & 3

Binary 5% Mg wire severe cracking

Mixed wire no cracking in sequence

Maintenance of weld metal composition throughout a multipass weld

7 6
% Elemental Composition

5 4 3 2 1 0 parent 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Measured Distance Across Weld (mm)

Binary Cu Ternary Cu Binary Mg Ternary Mg

Black Binary wire rapidly becomes Cu rich and Mg depleted result is cracking Red Ternary mix stable composition throughout weld result is no cracking

Three wire configuration

6% Cu Wire

5% Mg Wire

CuSi3 Wire

Fusion Welding Improving Weld Metal Properties Al-7Cu-2Mg 1/2m min spd Three Wires
2319 Wire
160 140 120 100 80

160 140 120 100 80

Standard single wire weld

60 40 20 0


Three wire weld 7% Cu

60 40 20






0 Mix 2024

-10 8

-8 10


0 -4 Al-8Cu-2.2Mg -2 2 10 m min spd

Position160 in weld (mm)

140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 -8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6

Position160 in weld (mm)

140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 -8 8 -6 10 -4 -2 0 2 4 6

Optimised two wire weld

Three wire weld 8% Cu



Position in weld (mm)

Position in weld (mm)

Summary of fusion welding of high strength aluminium

Microstructural modelling can be used to determine optimum weld metal compositions in this case to avoid cracking Tandem welding methods can be used to explore different weld metal chemistries By using an optimum composition with 2024 alloy crack free welds are obtained By adding a 3rd wire an even wider range of compositions is possible From this welding wire compositions can be specified for either welding or additive manufacture applications

Joining of aluminium to steel seam welding

Objective is to use the laser in conduction mode A correlation is sought between the intermetallic layer thickness and the fundamental laser interaction parameters
Power density - power/area Interaction time beam diameter/travel speed Specific process energy Power Density X interaction time X area

Correlate the intermetallic layer thickness with joint strength

Steel XF350 2mm thick Plate dimensions 138 x 150 mm

Aluminium 5083 6mm thick

Experimental setup
Shielding gas 20 l/min pure Argon Clamping system Toggle clamps & bars
Surface condition Surface finishing, ground & not prepared


8kW Fibre Laser

Cu bar

Samples clamped always with the same load

Samples were cut in two different positions to check if penetration and IML thickness were constant along the weld seam. Aluminium
Sample Sample




No difference observed between the ends


Results Intermetallic compounds


Intermetallic layer

Fe2Al5 FeAl3

20 m


Sample U11 B Welding parameters: Power = 4.0 kW; Interaction time = 3.9 s; Travel speed = 20 cm/min; Spot size = 13 mm

Results Vickers microhardness test

Microhardness test (Load = 200g, time = 10s)



Microhardness [HV]

1.6 mm






0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Distance [mm]
Sample U11-B Base material - Steel Base material - Aluminium

Results: Intermetallic layer thickness evolution Intermatallic layer thicknes vs Specific point energy (point A)

Intermetallic layer thickness [m]




0 9 10 11 12 13 14

Specific point energy [kJ]

Manually ground Surface ground

Results: Intermetallic layer thickness Intermatallic layer thicknes vs Specific point energy evolution (point A, manually ground)

Intermetallic layer thickness [m]




0 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Specific point energy [kJ]

Power density = 0.0030 [MW/cm2] Power density = 0.0038 [MW/cm2]

Summary aluminium to steel joining

By using the laser fundamental interaction parameters a good understanding and control of the intermetallic layer can be obtained Continuous seam welds can be produce without porosity or defects Properties are yet to be determined

What is Metal Additive Manufacture - Basic Process Programme a robot or machine tool to trace out the layers

Slice an object into layers

Using a deposition tool to build up your part

What is a (metal) deposition tool

Also known as
Additive (Layer) Manufacture (A(L)M) (Laser) Cladding Buttering Digital manufacture Direct Light Fabrication Direct Metal Casting (DMC) Direct Metal (Laser) Deposition (DM(L)D) Laser Direct Casting or Deposition Laser casting Laser clad casting Laser consolidation Laser cusing Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) Lasform (Metal) Rapid Prototyping Net shape manufacture Net shape engineering Shaped deposition manufacturing Shaped melting Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Selective Laser Melting (SLM) Shaped Metal Deposition (SMD) Shape Melting Technology (SMT) Shape welding Solid freeform fabrication (SFF) Weld build up + several more since I put this list together a couple of year ago

Very Simply

And we have ours Wire + Arc Additive Manufacture WAAM

Metal Additive Layer Manufacture - History

This has been around awhile!
1926 Baker patented The use of an electric arc as a heat source to generate 3D objects depositing molten metal in superimposed layers 1971Ujiie (Mitsubishi) Pressure vessel fabrication using SAW, electroslag and TIG, also multiwire with different wires to give functionally graded walls 1983 Kussmaul used Shape Welding to manufacture high quality large nuclear structural steel (20MnMoNi5 5) parts deposition rate 80kg/hr total weight 79 tonnes

Metal Additive Layer Manufacture - History

1994-99 Cranfield University develop Shaped Metal Deposition (SMD) for Rolls Royce for engine casings, various processes and materials were assessed

MALM Process Options

Weld based Additive Layer Manufacturing - METALS

Powder based
X Low deposition rates (0.1-0.2 kg/h) X Low material efficiency (10-60%) X Quality and flaw issues X Very high part cost High level of complexity

Wire based
High deposition rates (several kg/h) High material efficiency (90%) No defects Low part cost x Medium to low level of complexity

Primary Objective: large scale structural components

WAAM Process

WAAM machine

WAAM workpiece
RUAMRob 2.0 Slicing and path generation (within a couple of minutes)

Example application - Ti Stiffened panel

Initial weight (kg) Machining WAALM + Finishing 27.5

Final weight (kg) Buy to fly ratio 5.6 4.9 1.1

5 + 1.2 (wire) = 6.2 5.6

Development of aluminum CMT process algorithms

Example aluminum application satellite launch vehicle component

Variable wall thickness 6-8mm


Building cylinder on a 5 Axis system

WAAM - Large parts Variable wall thickness cylinder example satellite launch vehicle part After machining

As deposited 6 hours

WAAM - Large parts Intersecting Stiffened Panels


Design Handbook - Horizontal Unsupported walls -aluminium

Enclosed structure (steel)

WAAM Latest results mixed material systems Steel/bronze (CuSi3%) parts

Yield 140 MPa, UTS 300 MPa, elongation 12%, failure in bronze
Vertical hardness - Cu to Steel
145 140 Vickers Hardness

130 125

115 110

100 -3000 -2000 -1000 0 Distance in 1000 2000 3000

WAAM latest results rolling* - setup




*Patent applied for

WAAM latest results rolling - effect on distortion and bead geometry


7 6 5
4 3 2

Distortion [mm]

CONTROL 50 kN 75 kN

1 0

Effect on Geometry

Average L.H. [mm]

Std. Dev.


50 kN

75 kN
Control 50 kN 75 kN 1.13 1.04 0.93 0.19 0.12 0.09

Average reduction after rolling [mm] 0.25 0.37

Plates are 450 mm long

Rolling improves process repeatability

WAALM latest results rolling - effect on microstructure

Rolling introduces deformation, nucleation sites and stored energy into the large beta grains, thus inducing recrystallisation when layers are reheated during the subsequent deposition

Reduction in grain size

Control 50 kN

75 kN

Grain size Primary grains Alpha Lathes length Alpha Lathes Width

Control 3 x 30 mm 21.1 1.2

50 kn 240 m 15.5 1.0

75 kN 83 m 7.7 0.7

Installation of large scale ALM facility now complete HiVE (old Airbus FSW machine) HiVE Technology demonstrator system implemented for large scale WAAM incorporating milling, and rolling (to be completed)

Welding power source

Milling cutter

Welding torch


Large scale WAAM 1st part

3m long aluminium stiffener, deposited and machined on the HiVE system

Summary additive manufacture

Wire + arc based additive manufacture is suitable for producing large structural metal parts in a very cost effective manner It can used for a wide variety of materials including aluminium titanium and tool steel New developments such as rolling, mixed materials and integrated machining are rapidly evolving This will be a very important technology for high value manufacturing

Thanks you for your attention

Professor Stewart Williams +44 (0)1234 754693