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Friction Stir Welding of High Melting

Temperature Materials

Equipment Requirements
Table of Contents
I. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………. 2

II. FSW FERROUS AND OTHER ALLOYS……………….. 2

III. FSW TOOL………………………………………………… 3

IV. WELD MATERIAL PREPARATION AND CLAMPING..

V. LIQUID COOLED TOOL HOLDER……………………. 7

VI. TELEMETRY SYSTEM…………………………………. 8

VII. FSW MACHINE REQUIREMENTS…………………….. 9

VIII. FSW SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS……………………… 11

IX. APPENDIX…………………………………………………. 11-15

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I. INTRODUCTION
Friction stir welding (FSW) low melting temperature materials, such as
aluminum and aluminum alloys, has now been commercialized in the aerospace,
marine, and transportation industries. The benefits of this technology include,
low distortion, greater weld strength, little or no porosity, no filler metals, little or
no post weld repair, no solidification cracking, no welding fumes or gases,
improved corrosion resistance, and lower cost in production applications.
Low melting temperature materials are friction stir welded with tools made
from hardened tool steels that are inexpensive to fabricate. Tool steels provide
sufficient hardness and abrasion resistance to friction stir weld aluminum alloys
and other low melting temperature materials.
High melting temperature materials, such as steel, stainless steel, nickel base
alloys, and others, have not been friction stir weldable in the past because of tool
material limitations. FSW tools made from refractory alloys containing Tungsten,
Hafnium, Rhenium, Molybdenum, Niobium, and Zirconium have high temperature
properties but lack sufficient strength, hardness, and abrasion resistance to be
suitable tool materials. During FSW, these elements either alloy with the material
being friction stir welded, or abrade and deposit tool material in the weld region
after welding only a few centimeters.
Friction stir welding ferrous and nonferrous alloys with high melting
temperatures is now possible with recent developments in material technology,
as well as FSW systems specifically designed for such alloys.
The variables that govern the FSW process are temperature, load, tool travel
speed, spindle RPM, tool design, tool thermal conductivity, weld material flow
stresses, weld material thermal conductivity, melting point of the weld material,
and heat transfer characteristics of the system. Aluminum alloys can be friction
stir welded using a broad range of process variables because of their low
strength, high ductility, and high thermal conductivity.

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II. FSW FERROUS, NICKEL BASE, AND OTHER ALLOYS
Successful FSW of ferrous, nickel base, and other high melting temperature
alloys requires careful control of the process variables discussed above. A tool
system* (figure 1) has been designed to function with any rigid load control
machine to friction stir weld these alloys. There are three components that make
up this system: a FSW tool, a liquid-cooled tool holder, and a telemetry system
consisting of a transmitting or telemetry collar and a loop antenna.

Thermocouple Liquid Cooling

Gas Shroud Shank

Locking
Collar

Work-piece
PCBN Tip

Diffusion/Thermal Barrier
Anvil

Figure 1. Tool system required to friction stir weld ferrous and nonferrous alloys.

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III. FSW TOOL*
FSW ferrous and nonferrous alloys requires a tool that can withstand
temperatures of approximately 900-1000 C at high Z- and X-axis loads during
the welding process. The tool must be designed to produce consistent weld
properties and maintain high abrasion resistance. Figure 2 illustrates the tool
construction consisting of a polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) tip, a
locking collar, and a tungsten carbide shank.

Tungsten Carbide Shank

Permanent Locking Collar


PCBN Tip

Figure 2. FSW tool with PCBN tip, locking collar and tungsten carbide shank.

*Patented

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PCBN Tip

PCBN is used as the tip of the tool because of its thermal stability,
hardness, and strength at elevated temperatures. PCBN is classified as a
superabrasive material and is suing an ultra high temperature/high pressure
(UHT/HP) process.

PCBN must be fabricated as a blank and attached to a shank since it


cannot be fabricated into a single piece FSW tool from bar stock. The
mechanical and material properties listed in Table I compare PCBN to other
materials.

Table I. Mechanical and material properties of PCBN and other materials.


Tungsten
Property Units PCBN
Carbide
4340 Steel

Coefficient of
- 0.10-0.15 0.2 0.78
Friction
Coefficient of
10-6/ C 4.6-4.9 4.9-5.1 11.2-14.3
Thermal Expansion
Thermal
W/mK 100-250 95 48
Conductivity
2700-
Compressive N/mm2 6200 690
3500
Strength
103 psi 391-507 899 100
Fracture
MPam 3.5-6.7 11 100
Toughness
Knoop 2700-
- 278
kg/mm2 3200
Hardness
Vickers 2600- 1300-
280
kg/mm2 3500 1600
N/mm2 - 1,100 620
Tensile Strength
103 psi - 160 89.9
Transverse N/mm2 500-800 2,200 -
Rupture Strength 103 psi 72-115 319 -

Locking Collar

The locking collar is made from a superalloy to couple the torque from the
shank to the PCBN during FSW. A blind hole is located on the collar for
positioning a type K thermocouple (Figure 4). The locking collar permanently
holds the PCBN to the shank and cannot be removed.

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Figure 4. Thermocouple location on PCBN FSW tool.

As the FSW tool is inserted into the liquid cooled tool holder, a thermocouple wire
slides into the feed hole and bottoms in the collar. A set screw firmly holds the
thermocouple against the side of the PCBN. This allows for consistent
temperature readings as long as the tool is rotating.

Tungsten Carbide Shank

Tungsten Carbide is selected for the shank material because of its relatively high
thermal conductivity and rigidity. During FSW, the liquid-cooled tool holder
removes enough heat from the shank to ensure stiffness and protect the spindle
bearings of the machine. If too much heat is removed, temperatures required to
friction stir weld will not be achieved. If too much heat is retained during FSW,
the shank will soften and flex resulting in tool failure and damage to the liquid-
cooled tool holder.

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IV. WELD MATERIAL PREPARATION AND CLAMPING

LIQUID-COOLED TOOL HOLDER*


Success of the FSW system is dependent on the machine rigidity and
precision, with the liquid-cooled tool holder aligned and mounted with a bracket
securely to the machine (figure 5). It is important to note that the temperature
range for FSW high temperature materials is generally 900 C to 1000 C for
most applications. Since these temperatures are significantly higher than
aluminum FSW, the welding process is more dynamic and subject to greater
temperature and load gradients. This also means that the FSW tool governs the
heat flow of the welding process rather than the material being friction stir
welded. For this reason, a tool cooling system is needed to manage the heat
transferred out of the tool.
The liquid-cooled tool holder manages the heat removal from the FSW
tool and protects the machine spindle bearings. The liquid cooled tool holder has
been designed to allow for steady state FSW load and temperature parameters.
The liquid-cooled tool holder maintains rigidity and precision during FSW
applications. A set screw holds and positions the FSW tool in the bore of the
liquid-cooled tool holder. A channel in the bore of the liquid cooled tool holder
allows passage of the thermocouple wire to slide into the collar of the FSW tool.
A 50/50 Ethylene glycol/water mixture enters the inlet and cools a chamber that
surrounds the FSW tool shank (not shown). A tapped hole is provided to
securely mount the stationary housing of the liquid-cooled tool holder to a bracket
on the machine. The ethylene glycol mixture also maintains the temperature of
the precision liquid-cooled tool holder bearings. The taper of the liquid cooled
tool holder is a standard 50 or 60 taper used worldwide in milling machines and
machining centers. COOLANT MUST ALWAYS BE CIRCULATING IN THE
LIQUID-COOLED TOOL HOLDER BEFORE STARTING THE SPINDLE TO
PREVENT EXCESSIVE SEAL WEAR.
A gas shroud is positioned on the liquid-cooled tool holder after the FSW
tool has been securely attached. Inert gases, such as argon or carbon dioxide,
flow through the shroud and act as a barrier to oxidation during the FSW
process.
The inert gas assists in improving tool life by preventing oxidation of the
base metal and second phase of the PCBN material. Oxidation surfaces are
harder typically more abrasive and reduce flow characteristics of the base metal.
*
Patented

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Figure 5. Installed liquid-cooled tool holder shown.

V. TELEMETRY SYSTEM

A telemetry system is a wireless temperature acquisition system required for


continuous real-time temperature data control. Figure 6 illustrates the loop
antenna, transmitting collar, and thermocouple portions of the telemetry system
positioned on the liquid-cooled tool holder.
Temperature data is used to verify steady-state FSW conditions when
used in conjunction with Z- and X-axis load and FSW tool position control. Flow
stresses of ferrous and non-ferrous materials are a function of tool load at a
given temperature.
If a precise temperature/load window is not maintained, two possible
conditions can occur. First, if the FSW temperature drops below a specified
value, X-axis loads can quickly increase, and the FSW tool pin can be sheared
off. Second, if the temperature increases above the specified value, Z-axis loads
cause the tool to plunge. When this occurs, X-axis loads rise dramatically with
the tool collar engaging the workpiece. Tool failures can result from excessive X-
axis loads and high flow stresses.

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Figure 6. Telemetry system mounted on the liquid-cooled tool holder.

The thermocouple (shown in red) is secured to the FSW tool (shown in blue) with
a set screw. The thermocouple passes through a channel in the center of the
liquid-cooled tool holder and connects to a telemetry or transmitting collar (shown
in yellow). The collar rotates with the liquid-cooled tool holder and produces
inductive power with the loop antenna (shown in green). The outer portion of the
liquid-cooled tool holder is stationary and is mounted to a bracket with coolant
connections. A bearing and seal pack (not shown) couples the stationary outer
portion of the liquid-cooled tool holder with the inner rotating tool and telemetry
collar assembly. A voltage output from the receiver (not shown) can be used to
interface with the machine controls.

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VI. FSW MACHINE REQUIREMENTS
The liquid-cooled tool holder should be installed on a machine that has a rigid
frame, table and spindle head. An adapter should not be used between the
liquid-cooled tool holder and the FSW machine. This will cause excessive
deflection of the liquid-cooled tool holder and damage the spindle bearings of the
FSW machine. It is highly recommended that any machine used for FSW have
load control capability in the Z-axis and X-axis directions. In addition, it is
recommended the FSW machine control system accept an analog signal from
the telemetry system to set and control to temperature boundary conditions.
Position control is also needed to locate FSW tool position and control the tool
path. The appendix provides specific machine dimensions.

MACHINE:
English Metric
Maximum Spindle <0.0004” <0.01 mm
Runout
Shank NMTB #50, #60 ISO #50, #60
Motor Horsepower 20 Hp 15 kW
Deflection at Load .030” @ 10,000 lbf 0.76 mm @
LIQUID-COOLED TOOL HOLDER*:
English Metric
Shank NMTB #50, #60 ISO #50, #60
Maximum RPM 800 800
Bracket Thread 5/8 in. PT M16 x P=2.0
Coolant Inlet/Outlet Fittings1 5/8 in. PT M16 x P=2.0
Shielding/Cooling Gas 1/8 in. PT
Fittings1
Tool Holder ID 1.0000 in. 25.00 mm
FSW Tool Adaptors ¾ in. 20 mm
1
Supplied by customer
GAS REQUIREMENTS:
English Metric
Preferred Shielding Gas2 Argon Argon
Shielding Gas Flow Rate 40-60 Ft3/Hr. 1.13-1.70 M3/Hr.
Cooling Gas Air Air
Cooling Gas Flow Rate 200 Ft3/Hr. 5.7 M3/Hr.
2
Gases supplied by customer
CHILLER REQUIREMENTS3:
English Metric
Coolant Flow Rate 1.4-3.5 Gal./Min. 5.3-13.3 L/Min.
Inlet Coolant 59F 15C
Temperature
10
Outlet Coolant 63F 17C
Temperature
Chiller Capacity 1 Ton 3.5 KW
Coolant Type 50% Ethylene Glycol, 50% Distilled Water
3
Chiller supplied by customer

VII. FSW SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS

TELEMETRY SYSTEM*:

TRANSMITTER:
RF Frequency 49 MHz Band
Modulation Type FM-FM
Operating Temperature Range -40 to 140 Deg C
Temperature Coefficient Zero .01% Full Scale/Deg C
Span .01% Full Scale/Deg C
Input Type K Thermocouple
.062 in. dia. (1.5 mm)
RECEIVER:
Output 0 to 5 Volts DC
Power 115 VAC or 12VDC
Signal Coupling via antenna
Output Ripple < 5 mV (Filtered)
< 15 mV (Wide band)
Display 3 ½” (89mm) Digit Backlit LCD
Size 8.0”L x 5.0”W x 3.48”H
(203mm x 127mm x 88 mm)
POWER SUPPLY:
Frequency 500 kHz
Power Supplied by Receiver
Dimensions 7.25''H x 3.15" W x 2.15"D
(184mm x 80mm x 55mm)
THERMOCOUPLE:
Type K from Omega Part Number KMQSS-062G-12
SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS:
Frequency Response Wide band output - DC to 1100 Hz
Filtered output - DC to 100 Hz
Integral Non-linearity  .10% of Full Scale
Repeatability  .05% of Full Scale
Overall accuracy Better than  .25% of Full Scale

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APPENDIX

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End View (English) End View (Metric)

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