J. Mater. Sci. Technol., 2011, 27(7), 647-652.

Friction Stir Welding of Al Alloy Thin Plate by Rotational Tool without Pin
Liguo Zhang1,3) , Shude Ji1)† , Guohong Luan2) , Chunlin Dong2) and Li Fu4)
1) 2) 3) 4) School of Aerospace Engineering, Shenyang Aerospace University, Shenyang 110136, China China FSW Center, Beijing 100024, China Shenyang Aircraft Design & Research Institute, Shenyang 110035, China State Key Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Xi an Jiaotong University, Xi an 710049, China
[Manuscript received October 22, 2010, in revised form April 11, 2011]

For friction stir welding (FSW), a new idea is put forward in this paper to weld the thin plate of Al alloy by using the rotational tool without pin. The experiments of FSW are carried out by using the tools with inner-concave-flute shoulder, concentric-circles –flute shoulder and three-spiral-flute shoulder, respectively. The experimental results show that the grain size in weld nugget zone attained by the tool with three-spiralflute shoulder is nearly the same while the grain sizes decrease with the decrease of welding velocity. The displacement of material flow in the heat-mechanical affected zone by the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder is much larger than that by the tool with inner-concave-flute shoulder or concentric-circles–flute shoulder. The above-mentioned results are verified by numerical simulation. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder, the tensile strength of FSW joint increases with the decrease of welding velocity while the value of tensile strength attained by the welding velocity of 20 mm/min and the rotation speed of 1800 r/min is about 398 MPa, which is 80% more than that of parent mental tensile strength. Those verify that the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder can be used to join the thin plate of Al alloy. KEY WORDS: Friction stir welding; Rotational tool without pin; Shoulder shape; Plastic flow

1. Introduction As a new solid-state joining technology, friction stir welding (FSW) owns many advantages, such as low stress, small distortion, no fusion welding defects, etc[1–4] . Because the metal of weldment isn t melted during FSW, the material flow in weld of FSW is the key factor to influence the quality of weld. In order to thoroughly understand the mechanism of FSW, many researchers have made lots of scientific work on the metal plastic flow of weld in FSW[5–7] . Several methods on material flow have been published, including the steel ball tracing technology[8] , the stop-action technology[9] , the metallography method[10,11] , the marker material method[12] and the numerical simulation method[13−15] . Guerra et al [11] showed that the mate† Corresponding author. Ph.D.; Tel.:+86 24 86398270; E-mail address: superjsd@163.com (S.D. Ji).

rial on the retreating front side is entrained and filled in the retreating side of the rotational tool. Ke et al.[12] used the thin copper as maker materials to study the material flow in the thickness of weld and then put forward the sucking-extruding theory. Zhang et al.[14] analyzed the effect of welding parameters on the flow behavior of metal in weld by FE method. For FSW, the tunnel defect and the hole defect may result from the pin of rotational tool when the welding parameters aren t reasonable. Therefore, using the rotational tool without pin can avoid the appearance of the tunnel defects or the hole defects. However, the researches on the tool without pin are relatively few. Tozakia et al.[16] developed a new tool without pin for the friction stir spot welding. During FSW, the serious metal flow lies in the contact region of weldment with rotational tool shoulder[17,18] . Therefore, the rotational tool without pin may be used to join the thin plate of Al alloy. In this paper, the experiments of FSW of 2024-T3 Al alloy are car-

Mater. And the corrosion solution is made up of 30 g NaCl.G. 1 Rotational tools used in friction stir welding: (a) inner-concave-flute shoulder. 647–752 Fig. The effect of different tool shoulder shapes on the microstructure and the tensile strength are investigated while the shoulder shapes are inner-concaveflute. (b) concentric-circles-flute shoulder. The structure of rotational tool is shown in Fig. The specimens were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) after metallographic etching with Keller s reagent. while the type of SEM is KYKY- 2008B. 10 ml HCl and 1 L H2 O. the butt joint configuration was jointed by the rotational tool without pin. Experimental After the surface of 2024-T3 Al alloy with the thickness of 1. the length of lack of penetration by the inner-concave-flute shoulder is more than that by the concentric-circles-flute shoulder while the lack of penetration doesn t exist in the welded joint by the three-spiral-flute shoulder (Fig. the thermo-mechanically affected zone (TMAZ) and the base metal of welded joint can be clearly distinguished. The corrosion time is 6 h while the solution temperature is about 35◦ . the weld nugget zone. (c) three-spiral-flute shoulder Table 1 Welding schemes Specimen No. the tool with concentric-circles–flute shoulder and the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder.6 mm was simply burnished to wipe off the oxide layer. Figure 3 shows the microstructure in weld nugget . respectively. Sci. 2011.648 L. The six kinds of experimental specimens attained by different tools or different welding parameters are discussed. Technol. 2. three types of tool shoulders were considered in this paper. 27(7). as shown in Table 1. Moreover. the intergranular corrosion test is carried out for the FSW joint by using the tool with threespiral-flute shoulder. 2. the tool with inner-concaveflute shoulder. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shoulder shape inner-concave inner-concave concentric-circles concentric-circles three-spiral three-spiral Welding velocity/(m/min) 50 20 50 20 50 20 Rotation speed/(r/min) 1800 1800 1800 1800 1800 1800 ried out by using the rotational tool without pin. During FSW. The tensile tests were carried out at room temperature by using a universal tensile machine with initial strain rate of 10−3 s−1 . The reason why the rotational tool with the three-spiral-flute shoulder can be used to join the thin plate of Al alloy is illustrated. In this paper.1 Microstructure Figure 2 are the macro photos of the welded joints by using different rotation tools. namely.: J. 3. concentric-circles –flute and three-spiral-flute. Zhang et al. 1. Results and Discussion 3. The tensile tests were performed to evaluate the mechanical properties of FSW joints attained by using different rotational tools. In Fig.. 2(c)).

the arrow direction represents the flow direction of material. Moreover.. the dynamic recrystallization (DRX) must take place during FSW[19] . (c) threespiral-flute shoulder zone of FSW joint attained by three types of rotational tool. 5(c)). (b) concentric-circles-flute shoulder.G. Mater. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder. The microstructure of parent metal is shown in Fig. For the pure metal. 4 Microstructure of parent metal than the welding temperature of FSW (about 70% of parent metal s melting point). 3 Microstructure in weld nugget zone of FSW by using different rotational tools: (a) inner-concaveflute shoulder. In the figure. (c) three-spiral-flute shoulder Fig. It is seen that the grain size in weld nugget zone is different for the joints attained by using different rotational tool. Although the recrystallization temperature heightens with the increase of the alloy s content.4Tm . 4. the numerical simulation by the software DEFORM was carried out to investigate the effect of different rotational tools without pin on the plastic flow of material in FSW joint. In fact. 2011. the grain sizes are different in different regions of weld nugget zone and the lath-like microstructures similar to microstructures in the parent metal appear in some region of weld nugget zone. 647–652 649 Fig. by analyzing the flow direction of material.L. Technol. Sci. the value must be smaller Fig. Figure 5 is the simulation result of plastic flow of material when the plunging depth of rotational tool is 0. Therefore.: J. the grain sizes in weld nugget zone are nearly the same. The welding velocity (v) is 50 mm/min while the rotation speed of tool (ω) is 1800 r/min. It can be seen that the plastic flow of material in the weld and the surrounding area attained by the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder is much better than that by the tool with inner-concave-flute shoulder or with concentric-circles -flute shoulder. Zhang et al.14 mm. For the tool with inner-concave-flute shoulder or with concentric-circles-flute shoulder. 2 Macro photos of friction stir welding by different rotational tools: (a) inner-concave-flute shoulder. DRX is related with the material s . 27(7). To verify the experimental results of microstructure. the relation between the temperature of recrystallization (TR ) and the melting point (Tm ) is as follows: TR ≈ 0. which verifies that the plastic flow of metal during FSW is enough. it is known that the material in the weld and the surrounding area adequately mixes during FSW (Fig. (b) concentric-circles-flute shoulder.

the simulation results (in Fig. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder.2 Tensile strength The experimental results of tensile strength are shown in Table 2.14 mm: (a) tool with innerconcave-flute shoulder. Sci. For the tool with inner-concave-flute shoulder or with concentric-circles -flute shoulder. The plastic flow of metal during FSW also greatly affects the dimensions and the sizes of grains. (b) v=50 mm/min and ω=1800 r/min Fig. 6.5 shows that material flow during FSW using the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder is much better than that using the other two types of tools. 647–752 Fig.. 7(a) and (b)). (c) tool with three-spiralflute shoulder strain and strain rate. During FSW. 3.G. so the material transfer only results from the material flow in weld nugget zone. the material in the heat-mechanical affected zone doesn t almost transfer (Fig. Zhang et al. the dislocation density of grain rapidly increases. During FSW. which can result in the increase of welding temperature. the revolutions of rotational tool in a second increases with the decrease of welding velocity. the more acute the plastic flow of material. the rotational tool doesn t directly touch the material in heat-mechanical affected zone. the displacement of metal material in the heat-mechanical affected zone is relatively large while the transfer direction is from the bottom of specimen to the top (Fig. 6 that the grain size decreases with the decrease of welding velocity. 27(7). the results in Fig. With the increase of the strain and the strain rate. When the welding parameters are the same. improve the plastic flow of metal and make the size of grain less[21. 5) explain the experimental results of microstructure (in Fig. 2011. Technol. 7.650 L. The tensile strength of 2024-T3 at room temperature is 485 MPa. the effect of welding velocity on microstructure in weld nugget zone of FSW joint is shown in Fig. During FSW. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder. 6 Effect of welding velocity on microstructure in weld nugget zone of FSW by rotational tool with the three-spiral-flute shoulder: (a) v=20 mm/min and ω=1800 r/min. which makes DRX happen more easily.: J. Therefore. 3). 7(c)). (b) tool with concentriccircles-flute shoulder. Mater. the more easily DRX happens[20] . the tensile strength of FSW joint attained by tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder . 5 Simulation results of plastic metal s flow at the plunging depth of 0. It is known from Fig. The microstructure near the heat-mechanical affected zone is shown in Fig. Therefore.22] .

which verifies that the intergranular corrosion phenomenon doesn t happens in FSW joint attained by the tool with three-spiral -flute shoulder. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder. respectively. concentric -circles-flute and three-spiral-flute. 7(c)). Integrating the experimental result of microstructure. Thereinto.2 398. For the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder.: J.G. Mater. 7 Microstructure near boundary between the weld nugget zone and heat-mechanics affected zone when ν=50 mm/min and ω=1800 r/min: (a) inner-concave-flute shoulder. 6 and Fig. which results from the difference of grain sizes (Fig. the corrosion resistance of heat-mechanical affected zone is lower than that of weld nugget zone. the tensile strength of joint increases with the decrease of welding velocity and the value of tensile strength can reaches more than 80 percent of parent metal s tensile strength.3 Intergranular corrosion The microstructure of specimen 6 after corrosion is shown in Fig.L. (2) By using the no-pin rotational tool with three- is the highest while the tensile strength of joint attained by with inner-concave-flute shoulder is the lowest. 3. 8 Experimental result of intergranular corrosion of FSW joint attained by tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder.7 Fig.5 151. Technol. (b) concentriccircles-flute shoulder. the material in the heat-mechanically affected zone undergoes relatively big plastic transfer while transfer direction is from the bottom of plate to the top. Sci. Zhang et al.. Fig.7 265. 8. Moreover. 2 4 5 6 Rotational tool shape inner-concave concentric-circles three-spiral three-spiral Welding velocity/(mm/min) 20 20 50 20 Tensile strength/MPa 80. It is known from the figure that no obvious grain boundary appears in the weld and the surrounding area after corrosion. The results show that the degree of uniformity of grains in weld nugget zone attained by the tool with three-spiral-flute shoulder is much better than that by the tool with inner-concave-flute shoulder or concentric-circles-flute shoulder. the declining black region in the figure is the marker for easily distinguishing between the weld nugget zone and the heat-mechanical affected zone. 647–652 651 Table 2 Results of tensile experiment of FSW joints Specimen No. (c) three-spiral-flute shoulder 4. 2011. it is known that the thin plate of Al alloy can be well jointed by FSW using the no-pin . Conclusions (1) The microstructure of FSW joint attained by using the rotational tools without pin is investigated and the shoulders of tool are inner-concaveflute. 27(7).

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