Frictions stir welding of copper under different

welding parameters and media
H. Farrokhi, A. Heidarzadeh and T. Saeid*
Defect free friction stir welding of pure copper plates was conducted in air condition at a rotation
speed of 1600 rev min21 and traverse speeds of 50 and 100 mm min21. The microstructural and
mechanical properties of defect free joints produced in air and underwater conditions were
compared. The results revealed that a finer microstructure can be achieved by underwater friction
stir welding. The hardness of joints welded in both conditions was higher compared to the base
metal. Moreover, in comparison with the base metal, the joints welded in air and underwater
conditions exhibited lower and higher tensile properties respectively.
Keywords: Friction stir welding, Underwater, Microstructure, Hardness, Tensile properties

Introduction
Copper and its alloys are widely used in industrial
applications due to their unique properties such as high
corrosion resistance, excellent thermal conductivity and
appropriate combination of strength and ductility.1
Therefore, demands for welding of these materials are
increasing, particularly in electronic and nuclear industries. However, joining of copper by conventional fusion
welding methods encountered problems such as large
distortion, solidification cracking, porosity, oxidation
and joint brittleness, which are detrimental to the joint
properties.1,2
Friction stir welding (FSW) is a solid state joining
method that was first patented in 1991 by The Welding
Institute.2,3 It is considered to be the most significant
development in metal joining during the last decades. In
addition, it is a green technology due to its energy efficiency, environment friendliness and versatility.4,5 In this
process, a non-consumable rotating tool moves along
the joining line as shown in Fig. 1a,6 and consequently,
severe plastic deformation with frictional heating causes
formation of joint. Based on microstructural characterisation, three different regions, the nugget zone (NZ),
the thermomechanically affected zone (TMAZ) and the
heat affected zone (HAZ), have been recognised in FSW
joints.7
The application of FSW for joining copper and its
alloys has been considered by researchers because of
better joint properties and absence of fusion welding
associated difficulties.8–14 Generally, the investigators
have applied high heat input condition, i.e. high rotation
speed and low traverse speed, in order to reach defect
free copper welds. For example, Okamoto et al.15 fabricated a copper backing plate for cooling by FSW at a
rotation speed of 1300 rev min21 with a traverse speed
Faculty of Materials Engineering, Sahand University of Technology,
Tabriz, Iran
*Corresponding author, email saeid@sut.ac.ir

of 170 mm min21. Lee and Jung16 welded copper plate of
4 mm thickness successfully at a tool rotation speed of
1250 rev min21 with a traverse speed of 61 mm min21.
Similarly, Sakthivel and Mukhopadhyay17 obtained sound
friction stir welded joints of 2 mm thickness copper sheet
at a tool rotation speed of 1000 rev min21 with a welding
traverse of 30 mm min21. The high heat input conditions
produce adequate heat due to higher friction,18 which
results in enough plastic flow and elimination of defects.
In the FSW, a thermomechanical phenomenon occurs
and both the mechanical and thermal features control the
final microstructure and mechanical properties of material.
During FSW, microstructure modification takes place by
dynamic recrystallisation; nevertheless, the grain growth
appears, because the material is exposed to high temperature for a certain period of time.19 Accordingly, the high
heat input conditions generate sufficient heat for grain
coarsening of dynamically recrystallised grains,18 which
will cause poor mechanical properties. In order to reach
good metallurgical and mechanical properties in friction
stir welds, it is necessary to prevent the grain growth.
Therefore, controlling the thermal features of FSW, using
other welding ambient instead of air, is believed to
influence final microstructure and mechanical properties
of joints.
Some investigators have studied the underwater
FSW.19–23 Darras and Kishta19 friction stir processed
the AZ31 magnesium samples in three ambient of air,
room temperature water and warm water. They reported
that controlling the thermal boundaries of the process,
through underwater conditions, is beneficial in attaining
more grain refinement. Fu et al.20 carried out underwater FSW in cold and hot water, as well as in air, for
7050 aluminium alloys. They found that better tensile
properties can be achieved for joint welded in hot water.
Zhang et al.21 conducted underwater FSW on a 2219-T6
aluminium alloy at a fixed traverse speed and various
rotation speeds. They showed that the tensile strength of
the joint is fully dependent on the rotation speed. In
addition, they found that increasing the rotation speed
will cause to increase dislocation density, grain size and

ß 2013 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
Published by Maney on behalf of the Institute
Received 1 May 2013; accepted 13 June 2013
DOI 10.1179/1362171813Y.0000000148

Science and Technology of Welding and Joining

2013

VOL

18

NO

8

697

while the plates were secured in place using specially designed fixtures. The microstructural and mechanical properties of joints welded at both conditions were studied and compared. images using Clemex image analysis software. 1000. Their results demonstrated that underwater welds show improvement in tensile strength and elongation. as illustrated in Figs.23 carried out underwater FSW of 2219 aluminium alloy. The software differentiates dissimilar grains using various colour contrast and then calculates corresponding diameter DEq of each grain from its area according to the following equation9  1=2 4A : DEq ~1 2247 (1) p where A is area (mm2).18. as illustrated in Fig. The welding tool had a simple cylindrical pin and shoulder with the diameters of 4 and 12 mm respectively. and their results indicated that the tensile strength of the joint can be improved from 324 to 341 MPa using external water cooling action. it was made of H13 hot work steel because of its suitable mechanical properties in the process. because this zone experiences a thermal cycle but does not undergo any plastic deformation. Based on the microstructural features. First. 1b.Farrokhi et al. Although some researchers have been investigated the FSW of copper.24 Figure 5a and b shows the effect of traverse speed on microstructure of NZ Science and Technology of Welding and Joining 2013 VOL 18 NO 8 698 . underwater FSW was conducted in selected defect free conditions. 2. A macrograph of a joint containing tunnelling and void defects is represented in Fig. Then. Jie et al. NZ. In addition. A three-dimensional macrograph of a defect free joint welded in air condition is shown in Fig. a width of 100 mm and a thickness of 2 mm were used in this investigation. 100 and 150 mm min21 in air condition. recrystallisation does not occur because of inadequate deformation strain. polished and then etched with a solution of 20 mL nitric acid and 10 mL acetic acid. Tensile test samples were cut perpendicular to the FSW direction according to ASTM E-8 standard. 3. Similarly. four different zones. Bead on plate FSW was performed by a vertical milling machine. Frictions stir welding of copper 1 a schematic illustration of FSW. Experimental Commercially pure copper plates with a length of 220 mm. i. wherein rotational tool stirs along welding direction and b location of thermocouple formation of voids in the SZ. In another study. 800. Frictional heating and severe plastic deformation during FSW cause the formation of fine and equiaxed grains within NZ. tunnelling and void defects were observed because of inadequate heat generation and materials flow. 2 and 4. Tensile tests were conducted using a universal tensile test machine at a crosshead speed of 2 mm min21. The defect free conditions. The microstructure in the HAZ exhibits coarse and equiaxed grains.e. an investigation into the microstructural and mechanical properties of underwater friction stir welded copper is lacking. 1250 and 1600 rev min21 and traverse speeds of 50. FSW was performed at rotation speeds of 600. base metal (BM). At lower rotation speeds and higher traverse speeds. TMAZ and HAZ were distinguished in the microstructure of welds. Upaghyay and Reynolds22 compared the mechanical properties of AA 7050–T7 sheet friction stir welded in air and underwater. The objective of this study is therefore to compare the microstructural and mechanical properties of pure copper joints produced by conventional and underwater FSW. in which the macrostructure of joints was void free. Type K thermocouples were used to measure the temperatures at the bottom in the middle of the plates during FSW. Average grain size and size distribution histograms were achieved by analysing at least three Results and discussion Defect free welds were achieved under a rotation speed of 1600 rev min21 and traverse speeds of 50 and 100 mm min21. and in this zone. In addition. were selected.5 Rotation and traverse speeds are two important parameters influencing the microstructural and mechanical properties of welds produced by FSW. The grains in the TMAZ become elongated due to the plastic flow of material. The metallographic specimens were cross-sectioned from the FSW joints transverse to the welding direction. the hardness measurements were carried out along the centreline on the transverse cross-section of the joints using a Vickers hardness (HV) tester at a 100 g load for 10 s. which is a typical feature of dynamically recrystallised structures. The microstructure of joints was studied by optical microscopy.

b 1600 rev min21–150 mm min21 with average grain size of 17 mm and c 1000 rev min21–150 mm min21 with average grain size of 10 mm Science and Technology of Welding and Joining 2013 VOL 18 NO 8 699 .5. In addition.Three important results can be 5 Microstructure of NZ welded at rotation and traverse speeds of a 1600 rev min21–50 mm min21 with average grain size of 35 mm. Similar results were observed by Xie et al. increasing the traverse speed reduces both the degree of deformation and the peak temperature.Farrokhi et al. Frictions stir welding of copper 2 Three-dimensional optical macrograph of pure copper after FSW at rotation speed of 1600 rev min21 and traverse speed of 50 mm min21 3 Macrograph of joint containing tunnelling and void defects after FSW 4 Typical microstructure of joint showing NZ. 9. Thermal histories give important data about peak temperatures. Since. Lower amount of plastic deformation increases the recrystallised grain size. underwater condition not only reduces the peak temperature but also increases the cooling rate. grain size of NZ decreases. As can be seen from Fig.26 Higher rotation speeds generate more heat during FSW and hence more grain growth. From Fig. It can be seen that by increasing traverse speed. The grain size of the NZ is determined by the dominant factor among the two factors. 7. 8. the amount of flash on the surface of joints welded at underwater condition is lower than that of air condition. The underwater FSW was performed in order to reduce the heat input. The NZ microstructures and related grain size distribution histogram of joints welded at both air and underwater conditions are depicted in Fig. HAZ and BM at constant rotation speed of 1600 rev min21.25 At constant rotation speed.6 The underwater FSW of copper plates was conducted at a rotation speed of 1600 rev min21 and traverse speeds of 50 and 100 mm min21.e. 8. Figure 7 shows the temperature histories of the joints at various conditions (air and underwater). It is obvious that grain size of NZ is increased at higher rotation speeds. high traverse speed causes formation of welding defects due to insufficiant heat generation and plastic flow of material.25 Hence. it can be concluded that peak temperature is the dominant factor determining grain size in this study. it is clear that the grains are finer in underwater condition due to lower peak temperature and have higher cooling rate during welding. defect free joints were achieved in these situations under air condition. 6. Furthermore. As stated. and decreasing peak temperature decreases the grain size of the NZ. The top surface images of joints welded at air and underwater conditions are shown in Fig. The measured Vickers hardness profiles of the joints under different welding conditions are illustrated in Fig. i. As can be seen from Fig. degree of deformation and the peak temperature attained during FSW.18.24 Figure 5b and c illustrates the influence of rotation speed on the microstructure of NZ at constant traverse speed of 150 mm min21. the lower heat inputs can be achieved by better heat transfer from the welding tool and plate into the surrounding water in comparison with air condition. heating and cooling rates. 6. the weld surface is smoother in underwater condition. This information is very important in controlling the microstructure and mechanical properties of the joints. TMAZ.

In addition.Farrokhi et al. the grain size of the welds is controlled by two thermomechanical factors: strain rate and peak temperature. First. the hardness values are lower than those of 100 mm min21 in both air and underwater conditions. This effect can be explained by the Zener–Hollomon parameter Z (s21) described as follows27 : Z~ eexpðQ=RT Þ (2) 7 Temperature histories of joints welded at various conditions (air and underwater) achieved from this figure. the higher Z can be achieved from higher strain rates and/or lower peak temperatures. Frictions stir welding of copper 6 Top surface images of joints welded in a air and b underwater conditions underwater condition are higher than those of air condition. Furthermore. which results to finer grains. at the same traverse speed. Third. the BM has low hardness of 60–62 HV because of its initial annealed state. b underwater condition with average grain size of 7 mm and c related grain size distribution histograms Science and Technology of Welding and Joining 2013 VOL 18 NO 8 700 . In the FSW process. the maximum hardness of 113 HV is reached at a traverse speed of 100 mm min21 in underwater condition that is approximately equal to the hardness of a cold worked copper. the strain rate in the FSW can be defined as follows27 : kpvre e~ Le (3) 8 Microstructure of NZ welded at rotation speed of 1600 rev min21 and traverse speed of 100 mm min21 in a air condition with average grain size of 20 mm. under a lower traverse speed of 50 mm min21 (higher heat input). Second. T (K) is the temperature. R is the gas constant and Q is the activation energy. the hardness values for where e? (s21) is the strain rate. According to equation (2).

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