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An experimental investigation of friction stir welding of dissimilar

Aluminium and steel sheets

Akash Pisharody, Jyoti Menghani, Shailesh N Pandya


Mechanical Engineering, SVNIT, Surat, 395007
Abstract

In the current work Friction Stir welding of Aluminium 6082-O and SS-304, 1.6 mm sheets was
successfully achieved using two different tool materials namely EN-31 and High Speed steel
tool. Microstructure, micro-hardness and X-Ray diffraction studies were performed.
Microhardness analysis revealed an increase in the micro-hardness value from the base metal,
HAZ to the Nugget Zone. But there is no clear indication as to which tool material is better. The
XRD analysis carried out on the samples revealed the formation of Iron Aluminium inter-
metallic compounds Al5Fe2 and Al13Fe5 in the weld interface which may have increased the
hardness of the nugget zone

Keywords: Friction Stir Welding, Dissimilar, Aluminium, Steel

Introduction:

Friction stir welding is a solid state welding process. The process basically involves the use of a
non-consumable hard tool which is rotated and traversed simultaneously along the weld interface
(Fig 1)

Fig.1: Friction Stir Welding [1]


Steels and aluminum alloys can be used for producing bimetallic joints in a lot of areas such as
transportation, shipbuilding and aerospace [25]. But there is a large difference between the
melting temperatures of Aluminium alloys and steel due to which obtaining a sound joint
between them is difficult using fusion welding process. This is due to the formation of Iron-
Aluminium inter metallic compounds at the weld interface [2, 3, 5]. Since Friction stir welding is
a solid state process and comparatively has low heat input, it has a better hand over fusion
welding processes in joining Dissimilar Aluminium and steel joints.
Studies have been done on friction stir welding of aluminium [6] and steel [7] similar joints.
Over the past decade studies have been done on friction stir welding of dissimilar aluminium and
steel joints. K Kimapong, T Watanbe [8] studied FSW of Al 5083 and steel SS400. This was a
preliminary study on the welding of Aluminium and steel. They found that the welds were
produced with aluminum on the retreating side and with a slight offset of the pin top the
aluminium side. C M Chen, R Kovacevic [3] studied the effect of tool wear on the microstructure
of the weld joints. XRD analysis was done to identify the inter metallics formed during the
process W H Jiang and R Kovacevic [2] studied the FSW of Al 6061-T6 and AISI 1018 mild
steel. They found that the weld nugget was harder than other regions. Temperature
measurements revealed localized melting of al due to which Al-Fe intermetallics were formed. T
Yasui et al [8] studied the FSW of 6063 T5 and S45C mild steel. The work was done using a
combination of different tool materials into one tool and thus high speeds were achievable. M.
Merklein, A. Giera [9] have studied the hybrid welding technique using a laser to preheat the
weld interface by using which high traverse speeds were achieved. Thaiping Chen [10] carried
out an optimization of process parameters using taguchi technique. Tool rotation speed and tool
traverse speeds were found to be the most important parameters affecting the quality of the welds
which was measured using impact strength of the joint. Hansur Bang et al [11] carried out FSW
of SS304 and Aluminum alloy 6061, comparing conventional FSW with hybrid FSW using gas
tungsten arc. Huseyin Uzun et al [12] worked upon the FSW of SS304 and Aluminiun 6013-T6.
Studies on lap joints have been carried out by A Elrefeay et al [13] and Kittipong Kimapong and
Takehiko Watanabe[14].

From all the above studies it is seen that the most important parameters affecting the process are
tool rotational speed and traverse speed. The effect of tool material on the weld has not been
studied. This is an important parameter as the tool hot hardness is different for different tool
materials which could affect the load transfer to the weld interface. The present study aims at
studying the effect of variation of tool material on the microstructure, micro hardness and inter-
metallics formed in the weld joint of Aluminium alloy 6082-O and SS304. .

Experimental procedure:

Two sheets; Aluminium alloy 6082-O and SS304; of 1.6mm thickness were welded in butt joint
configuration using a vertical milling machine. The parameters varied in this study were tool
rotation speed, traverse speed and tool material. Rotational speeds of 1000, 1400 and 2000 rpm
and traverse speed of 14, 20 and 28 mm/min were used. Two different tool materials viz HSS
and EN-31 were used. The tool was offset to the aluminum side by 0.5mm and the tool tilt angle
was kept at 2 degrees. The aluminium plate was kept on the retreating side. Vickerss
Microhardness studies were done using a diamond indenter with a load of 500 gf and a dwell
time of 20 seconds. To observe the phases formed in the weld interface, microstructure studies
were carried out using an optical microscope. XRD analysis was used for identifying the
intermetallics formed. M.Ghosh et al [16] related the temperature generated in the weld interface
to the rotational speed and traverse speed as given below

2
= 1

Where:

C and are constants

is the rotational speed

V is the traverse speed

And T and Tm are the temperature and maximum temperature at the weld interface

From this equation it can be inferred that the most influential parameter on the heat generated in
weld interface is the rotational speed. Since the intermetallics formed depend on the heat input,
thus the generation of intermetallics could depend directly on the rotational speed. XRD analysis
was carried out on the samples based on the above equation. The samples having maximum
hardness in the nugget zone for an individual rotational speed for each tool was chosen for XRD.
300 250

Micro-hardness (HV) 250

Micro-hardness (HV)
200
200
150
150
EN 31, 1000 100 EN 31, 1000
100 RPM, 20
RPM, 14
mm/min 50 mm/min
50
HSS, 1000
0 0 RPM, 20
HSS, 1000 mm/min
RPM, 14
mm/min

a b

250 250
Micro-hardness (HV)

Micro-hardness (HV)
200 200

150 150

100 EN 31, 1000 RPM, 28 100 EN 31, 1400


mm/min RPM, 14 mm/min
50 50
HSS, 1000 RPM, 28 HSS, 1400 RPM, 14
mm/min mm/min
0 0

c d

Fig 2: Micro-hardness comparison between EN-31 and HSS at a) 1000RPM, 14mm/min b) 1000 rpm, 20mm/min c) 1000rpm, 28mm/min d)
1400rpm, 14mm/min
250 250
Micro-hardness (HV)

Micro-hardness (HV)
200 200

150 150

100 EN 31, 1400 RPM, 20 100 EN 31, 1400


mm/min RPM, 28 mm/min
50 50
HSS, 1400 RPM, 20 HSS, 1400 RPM, 28
mm/min mm/min
0 0

a b

250 250
Micro-hardness (HV)

Micro-hardness (HV)
200 200

150 150

100 EN 31, 2000 RPM, 20 100 EN 31, 2000


mm/min RPM, 28 mm/min
50 50
HSS, 2000 RPM, 20 HSS, 2000 RPM, 28
mm/min mm/min
0 0

c d

Fig 3: Micro-hardness comparison between EN-31 and HSS at a) 1400RPM, 20mm/min b) 1400 rpm, 28mm/min c) 2000rpm, 20mm/min d) 200rpm,
28mm/min
a b

c d

Fig 4: XRD graphs for a) EN-31, 1000 RPM and 28 mm/min b) EN-31, 1400 RPM and 20 mm/min c) HSS, 1400 RPM and 14 mm/min d) HSS,
2000 RPM and 28 mm/min
a b

Fig 5: XRD graphs for a) EN-31, 2000 RPM and 20 mm/min b) HSS, 1400 RPM and 28 mm/min
The microstructural analysis indicates good mixing of aluminium and steel at the weld interfaces.
A comparison has been done of the microstructures at various speeds at constant feed rate. The
grain structure gets finer and elongated as one moves from the HAZ to nugget zone. This results
in higher micro-hardness at the nugget zone. There are some inclusions which are observable in
the microstructure however exact composition of the inclusion can be obtained only by using
EDAX analysis. In case of 1400 rpm, 28 mm/min fig (7); saw shaped structure is observed
similar to result obtained by C.M. Chen, R. Kovacevic [25] which could be due to shear force
exerted by the tool. In most cases the grain size decreases with the rotational speed. In case of
EN-31, 28mm/min runs (Fig 7), the grains are observed to be elongated at high travel speed
which indicates the mechanical stirring at high rotational speed. This indicates the condition
similar to that of extrusion. In case of HSS tool, at 20mm/min runs (Fig 8) at 1000 rpm, fine
grain structure is observed. No intermixing is observed. With further increase in the speed new
inclusions are observed. Increasing the rotational speed results in fine grain structure and
elongation and precipitation is also observed. Further analysis is required in form of EDAX.

Fig 7: Optical micrographs of welds with EN-31tool at 28 mm/min traverse speed and 200 X
magnification

Fig 8: Optical micrographs of welds made with HSS tool at 20mm/min traverse speed and 200X
magnification
Conclusions

1. Friction Stir welding was successfully carried out to joint Aluminium 6082-O and SS304
Stainless steel at 1000, 1400 and 2000 rpm rotational speed and at 14, 20 and 28 mm/min
traverse speeds using two different tools; EN-31 and High Speed Steel. Base metal
thickness for present investigation was 1.6 mm & joint configuration was Butt joint.
2. At 2000 rpm and 14mm/min, using EN-31, some voids were formed on the weld surface
in the repeat runs also.
3. Microhardness analysis revealed an increase in the micro-hardness value from the base
metal, Heat Affected Zone to the Nugget Zone.
4. The microstructural analysis revealed the coarsening of grain with increase in rotational
speed in certain cases.
5. The X-Ray Diffraction analysis carried out on the samples revealed the formation of Iron
Aluminium inter-metallic compounds Al5 Fe2 and Al13Fe5 in the weld interface which
indicates the proper mixing of the two base materials and justifies the increment in
hardness at the nugget zone. Also some amount of oxidation was observed and sulphur
based compound (AlFe)2(SO4)3 were also formed. In case of HSS tools MoO3 and MnO2
have been detected which indicates that the tool may have reacted with the workpeice.

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