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American Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Automation

2015; 2(3): 36-39

Published online May 30, 2015 (

Some Investigations on Thermal Analysis of

Aluminium Alloys in Friction Stir Welding
J. Stephen Leon*, V. Jayakumar
Department of Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ibri College of Technology, Ibri, Sultanate of Oman

Email address (J. S. Leon), (V. Jayakumar)

To cite this article

J. Stephen Leon, V. Jayakumar. Some Investigations on Thermal Analysis of Aluminium Alloys in Friction Stir Welding. American Journal of
Mechanical Engineering and Automation. Vol. 2, No. 3, 2015, pp. 36-39.

Friction stir welding is a solid state joining process mostly used to weld aluminium alloys which are difficult to weld by
conventional fusion welding processes. Apart from this, its ecofriendly and versatile quality makes friction stir welding stand
unique from other traditional welding. As the joining process in friction stir welding is done below the melting point of base
metal, it can be considered as the most significant development in metal joining world. It is essential to measure the amount of
heat generated and temperature distribution during friction stir welding as it had direct influence over the mechanical properties
of the weld zone and heat affected zone. However, it is difficult to measure temperature in the weld zone due to the plastic
deformation produced non-consumable rotating tool. In this review article, development in the analysis of heat generation and
temperature distribution are addressed. The complexities in experimental analysis lead to numerical analysis in the measurement
of temperature histories during friction stir welding and hence more emphasis has been given to the latest developments in
numerical analysis of friction stir welding process.

Friction Stir Welding, FSW, Thermal Analysis, Numerical Analysis

1. Introduction
Friction stir welding (FSW) is a solid state joining process during welding has a direct influence on the mechanical
developed to weld aluminium alloys. Surface oxidations being property change in the welding zone and heat affected zone.
a major problem, aluminium alloys are difficult to weld using So it is much essential to measure generated and distributed
conventional fusion welding which causes poor weldability temperatures.
and porosity in the fusion zone. As the joining process is
carried out in solid state in friction stir welding, it is widely
used to join aluminium alloys.
The basic concept of friction stir welding is, a specially
designed pin and shoulder of a non-consumable rotating tool
is inserted in the joining edges of plates to be joined which are
clamped on to a backing bar to prevent forced apart. The
rotating tool with sufficient downward force traverses along
the line of joint. Heat is produced by the friction between the
plate surface and the tool shoulder. The frictional heat and the
shear force produced by the rotating tool produce a plastically
deformed metal joint in the line of action as shown in fig.1 [1].
Friction stir welding is used for applications where the
original characteristics must remain unchanged as far as
possible. As the heat generation and temperature distribution Fig. 1. Principle of FSW.
37 J. Stephen Leon and V. Jayakumar: Some Investigations on Thermal Analysis of Aluminium Alloys in Friction Stir Welding

However the intense plastic deformation in the stirred zone, cooling the parent metal plate and anvil. They concluded a
making it difficult to measure the peak temperature during maximum of 10% increase in tensile strength with respect to
welding. Therefore, the temperatures in the stirred zone are conventional FSW of AA7075 after post-weld natural aging of
estimated through the microstructure analysis in the weld zone 1000 h.
or through the embedded thermocouples in the region adjacent Staron et al. [9] used liquid CO2 coolant near the weld seam
to the rotating pin. Apart from these techniques, numerical for their experiments to investigate residual stress
analysis is also used to predict the heat generation during improvements. They reported significant reduction in tensile
welding. residual stress for 6.35 mm thick AA2024 plate. Su et al. [10]
In this review article, the latest developments in the reported production of nano-scale grain size in 7075 Al sheet
measurement of heat generation in stirred zone and by quenching the plate behind the tool with a mixture of water,
temperature distribution in the heat affected zone and also methanol and dry ice.
developments in the numerical analysis of friction stir welding
process are discussed.
3. Thermal Analysis Based on
Experimental Analysis
2. Thermal Analysis Based on
Microstructure Analysis To measure temperature distribution in the welding
direction and in the width direction of the work piece K-type
Peak temperature produced during friction stir welding can grounded thermocouples are used. 1 mm diameter holes are
be estimated by analyzing the microstructure in the weld zone. drilled on the both sides of the work piece and thermocouples
A microstructure investigation done by Murr et al. [2] are inserted. A digital thermometer is used to connect
identified undissolved precipitates during friction stir welding thermocouples to record the temperature histories.
of 6061 Al and suggested temperature raise roughly around Koun et al. [11] and Sato et al. [12] measure temperature in
400˚C in the weld centre. Whereas Rhodes et al [3] indicated the region adjacent to the weld zone using embedded
large precipitates during FSW in Al6061 and concluded thermocouples. Sato et al. found increase in peak temperature
maximum temperature may lay in between 400˚C and 480˚C. with increase in rotation and recorded 500˚C peak temperature
A transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis done by at a tool rotation of 3600 rpm. Thermocouples are mostly used
Sato et al. [4] on various regions 0-8.5, 10, 12.5 and 15 mm to measure temperature distributions inside the work piece
from the weld centre. They identified precipitates completely [13]. However, it is difficult to obtain the temperature around
dissolved into the aluminium matrix in the weld region and the joint line because the thermocouples could be destroyed by
concluded that during the process the weld centre were heated the severe plastic deformation caused by the tool pin.
to higher temperature than 402˚C and the temperature Experiment conducted by Hwang et al. [14] concluded that
distributions are 353, 302 and 201˚C in the locations 10, 12 successful friction stir welding process is done between 365˚C
and 15 mm away from the weld centre respectively. and 390˚C peak temperature. They also found the
Benavides et al. [5] reported studies of FSW 2024 Al alloy temperatures in the advancing side are slightly higher than the
at room temperature (30°C) and low temperature (-30°C). retreating side. Some similar works done for different
Low temperature FSW of 2024 aluminum produced equiaxed, materials are shown in table.1.
fine grains of about 0.8 µm compared to grain size of about 10
µm in FSW made at room temperature. The maximum weld Table 1. Summary of experimental analysis on different aluminium alloys.
zone temperatures did not exceed 140°C in the welds made at Material Tool rotation (rpm) Peak temperature (˚C)
low temperature, while in welds made at room temperature, AA6061-T6 [15] 344 425
the maximum temperature was measured to be 330°C. AA6061-T651 [16] 390 466
AA6082-T6 [17] 1500 321
Mahoney et al. [6] measured temperature distribution
AA7050-T7451 [18] 540 390
during friction stir welding of 6.35 mm thick 7075Al-T651
plate. They recorded maximum temperature of 475˚C near the Infrared cameras can also be used to measure the
edge of stir zone and found the reduction in temperature from temperature histories during friction stir welding. But
top to the bottom surface of the plate in the stir zone. They also temperature can be measured only on the surface of the work
identified a decrease in the temperature with increasing piece [19].
distance from the weld zone. Upadhyay et al. [20] obtained a thermal history measured
Sakurada et al. [7] in their work used the inertia friction by the thermocouple welded in to the probe mid plane.
welding method to join AA6061 under water. They observed Although the temperature measured by the probe is not the
an increase in joint strength and decrease in the width of heat exact temperature of the weldment, it gives an average
affected zone when compared with regular in-air welds, temperature of the material in contact with the probe. They
Nelson et al. [8] used cold water and mist to chill the plates compared the peak temperature during under water friction
during the friction stir welding process so as to study the effect stir welding with normal friction stir welding on AA7050-T7
of quench rate on 7075 and 2195 aluminum alloys. They sheets. They recorded a peak temperature of 460˚C at 1000
performed friction stir welding by externally heating and rpm in underwater welding against 495˚C in normal welding.
American Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Automation 2015; 2(3): 36-39 38

4. Thermal Analysis Based on temperature was simulated using 3D computational fluid

dynamic (CFD) model [29]. Within the model the temperature
Numerical Modeling of the FSW tool was elevated and maintained at a temperature
As discussed, it is difficult to measure peak temperature higher than the temperature normally maintained in FSW
accurately in the stirred zone experimentally. Therefore process in AL6061-T6 aluminium alloy. The result showed
numerical modelling is adopted to measure generated lower plastic strain in the region behind the tool. Zhang et al.
temperature during friction stir welding process. [30] did a numerical analysis to calculated dissipated heat
Choa et al. [21] used finite element analysis to find the through backing plate.
heat flux created due to the friction between tool and work
piece. They used steady state boundary value for tool and 5. Summary and Future Outlook
transient boundary value problem for work piece. Xu et al.
[22] correlated experimental and numerical analysis of heat From the above methods of thermal analysis, it is observed
generation during the friction stir welding in aluminium that rise of peak temperature during FSW lies in between
magnesium alloy 5083-H116 plate. Infrared camera and 400-500˚C in aluminium alloys. Intense plastic deformation
embedded thermocouples were used to measure temperature along with huge temperature rise results microstructural
histories experimentally. They optimized the welding tool evolution in the stirred zone. Comparing with traditional
design and various process parameters in combat vehicle fusion welding, it registers several advantages like low
structure manufacturing. They also determined the heat residual stress and fine recrystallized grains. Microstructural
dissipation through the tool and through the backing plate analysis shows three different zones named nugget zone,
using finite element analysis. Optimization of angular thermo-mechanically affected zone and heat affected zone
velocity, radius of the shoulder and pin of the friction stir after friction sir welding. A fine and recrystallized grains are
welding tool were studied in detail by Bie et al. [23]. They formed due to the intense plastic deformation of material and
concluded that increase in maximum temperature was high temperature exposure in nugget zone.
recorded when angular velocity and radius of the pin and Thermo-mechanically affected region experiencing medium
shoulder were increased. temperature and deformation and characterized by
Khandkar et al. [16] developed a more comprehensive unrecrystallised but deformed grains. Heat affected zone
model of heat input based on the torque of the FSW tool and characterized by precipitate coarsening.
studied the temperature history of a friction stir welded It is observed that it is extremely critical to analyze plunge
aluminum AA6061-T651 plate. stage of tool in friction stir welding. Due to the enormous rise
Frigaard et al. [17] developed a finite difference thermal in temperature and stress, material undergoes huge
model for a moving heat source and correlated the predicted transformation during this stage and hence more focus can be
temperature profile with the measured temperature profile given to the experimental studies on plunge state during
for friction stir welded AA6082-T6 and AA7108-T79 friction stir welding process.
extrusions. Ulysee [24] developed a three-dimensional The difficulties in the temperature measurement through an
visco-plastic model and studied the impact of varying weld experiment in FSW lead to the numerical analysis using finite
parameters on the temperature distribution in a element method. The complexity present in some kind of
AA7050-T7451 plate. joints and their three dimensional nature make it difficult to
Rajesh et al. [25] plotted heat distribution during friction use other numerical methods like finite difference method.
stir welding in Al6061 plate using a 3D finite element heat These difficulties are overcome by establishing computational
transfer analysis program. The heat input given by the FSW models which are effective and reliable.
combined effect of rotation and translation movement of the Mechanical load given by the FSW tool is an important
tool to the Al6061 plate was determined by asymmetrical parameter to be considered in FSW numerical modelling. But
analytical model. The work was validated by the in most of the numerical modellings, force exerted by the tool
experimentally measure values. Larsen et al. [26] developed a to the work piece is neglected. So more emphasis has to be
3D finite element model to determine the temperature given to correlate the link between temperature rise and tool
distribution between the work piece and the backing plate. It force. In recent advancements, FSW is combined with other
gave a very closer value to the experimentally measured joining methods like ultrasonic welding to produce much
values. Xu et al. [27] calculated temperatures of various points stronger joints. It is termed as hybrid joining process. A
using 3D heat finite element mathematical model and the simulative approach is needed to predict the temperature
ANSYS software in 2219 aluminium plate friction stir which affects the quality of hybrid joints.
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