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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 183 (2007) 62–70

3D modeling of material flow in friction stir welding under different process parameters
H.W. Zhang ∗ , Z. Zhang, J.T. Chen
State Key Laboratory of Structural Analysis for Industrial Equipment, Department of Engineering Mechanics, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, PR China Received 11 January 2005; received in revised form 11 April 2006; accepted 18 September 2006

Abstract Material flow in friction stir welding (FSW) under different process parameters is simulated by using the finite element technique based on the nonlinear continuum mechanics. Results indicate that the distribution of the equivalent plastic strain correlates well with the distribution of the microstructure zones in the weld. It seems that there is a quasi-linear relation between the change of the axial load on the shoulder and the variation of the equivalent plastic strain. The material flow can be accelerated with the increase of the translational velocity and the angular velocity of the pin. There exists a swirl on the advancing side and the material flow in the swirl on the advancing side becomes faster with the increase of the translational velocity. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Friction stir welding; Material flow; Finite element method; Equivalent plastic strain

1. Introduction FSW was invented by the Welding Institute (TWI) in 1991 [1]. The development of the materials processing technologies requires detailed knowledge of the relationships between the process parameters and the resulting material behaviors, particularly in FSW. As a new solid-state joining technology, FSW has become a unique technique well suited for joining many hardto-weld metals, especially the high strength aluminum alloys and some dissimilar metals. Compared with the conventional welding techniques, FSW possesses many advantages, such as no melting, low defect and low distortion, etc. FSW can even join thin and thick sections. This new technique is being successfully applied to the aerospace, automobile and shipbuilding industries. As a new welding technique, many unanswered questions need to be studied in details to help understanding the mechanism of FSW. Colligan [2], Li et al. [3] and Guerra et al. [4] studied the material flow in FSW, which is useful for the investigation of the mechanism of FSW. The nugget of the friction stir weld is composed of a series of identical half ellipsoid regions

Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 411 84706249; fax: +86 411 84708769. E-mail address: zhanghw@dlut.edu.cn (H.W. Zhang).

[5]. Xu et al. [6,7] developed a numerical model to capture the main thermo-mechanical features occurring in the FSW process for the further investigation of the mechanism of FSW. The microstructure of the friction stir welded 7050-T651 was investigated by Su et al. [8]. The metallurgical, hardness and quantitative disperse X-ray measurements were performed by Sutton et al. [9] to show that a segregated, banded microstructure consisting of alternating hard particle rich and hard particle poor region is developed in the friction stir weld. The super-plastic behavior of the welded sections and the one of the base metal were compared by Salem et al. [10]. The feasibility of FSW for joining copper was demonstrated by Lee and Jung [11]. It was shown that the transverse tensile stress reaches about 87% of that of the base metal, which is slightly higher than that of EBW copper joints. It should be noted that the maximum temperature created by FSW process ranges from 80 to 90% of the melting temperature [12,13], so that welding defects and large distortion commonly associated with fusion welding are minimized or avoided. The heat efficiency in FSW is 95%, which is higher than that in the traditional fusion welding [14]. Different from the work by the other researchers, the material flow patterns in FSW under varying conditions are investigated in details by using the finite element method based on solid mechanics. The general finite element code—ABAQUS is used to study the effect of the variations of the welding parameters

0924-0136/$ – see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2006.09.027

H.W. Zhang et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 183 (2007) 62–70 Table 1 Temperature-dependent material properties for Al 6061-T6 T (◦ C) 25.00 100.00 148.89 204.44 260.00 315.56 371.11 426.67 482.22 E (GPa) 66.94 63.21 61.32 56.80 51.15 47.17 43.51 28.77 20.20 σ u (MPa) 278.12 260.68 251.24 221.01 152.26 73.87 36.84 21.58 10.49 ν 0.330 0.334 0.335 0.336 0.338 0.360 0.400 0.410 0.420

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¯ ¯ where σ is the equivalent stress, σ = [3/2τ : τ ]1/2 , τ denotes the deviatoric part of the Kirchhoff stress, and σY (¯ ) represents ε the dynamic yield strength of material. q means a series of internal variables. In the current research, there is only one internal ¯ ¯ variable—the equivalent plastic strain ε, i.e. q1 = ε. The inelastic flow rule which prescribes the evolution of the inelastic rate of deformation Dp can be expressed as ˙ Dp = λ 3τ ¯ 2σ (2)

˙ where λ means the scalar measuring of the plastic flow rate. The evolution of the Kirchhoff stress tensor is given by the following relationship

on the material flow in FSW. The axial loads being applied to the shoulder range from 10 to 100 MPa in the simulation. The translational velocities being applied to the boundaries of the welding plate range from 2 to 10 mm/s, and the angular velocities of the pin vary from 390 to 690 rpm. 2. Model description In FSW, the workpiece material in front of the tool is pushed aside by the pin and then is forced to flow around the pin, so large plastic flow develops around the rotating tool. In order to model the contacting surface properly and handle mesh distortion during large plastic deformation, a thermo-mechanical finite element method based on the arbitrary Lagrangian–Eulerian (ALE) formulation and the adaptive re-meshing technique are employed. The radii of the pin and the shoulder are 3 and 7.5 mm, respectively. The dimensions of the two welding plates are 100 mm in length (along the welding line), 30 mm in width and 3 mm in thickness. The three dimensional geometry is divided into eightnode hexahedron elements. Reduced integration with hourglass control is used to avoid the mesh-locking problems associated with large incompressible plastic deformation. The mesh consists of 31,105 nodes and 22,785 elements. The material of the plate is Al 6061-T6 and is modeled as a rate-independent elastic–plastic material. The effect of temperature on yielding is considered explicitly. The properties of the material at different temperatures are shown in Table 1 [15]. To accelerate the convergence, the rotational and the translational speeds are both increased 1000 times in the analysis, so that the ratio v/ωR keeps constant. The acceleration is necessary because the slow speed in practical FSW cannot be completed in a realistic period of time by using a finite element code. To minimize the effect of the change, rate-independent elastic–plastic material is used. 2.1. Material and the associated flow Inelastic deformations are described in the framework of the classical theory of rate-independent plasticity. The yield function has the form ¯ f (τ, q) = σ − σY (¯ ) = 0 ε (1)

˙ τ = τ − Ω · τ − τ · ΩT is the spin tensor.

(3)

where

2.2. Mesh update equation In the current simulation, ALE mesh [16] is used. By means of ALE method, the moving boundaries can be tracked with the accuracy characteristic of Lagrangian methods and the interior mesh can be moved to avoid the distortion and entanglement of elements. However, an effective algorithm for updating mesh is still needed. The mesh movement must be prescribed to prevent the mesh distortion, so the boundaries and the interfaces remain at least partially Lagrangian. wi = χi,t
X

= (δij − αij )vj

(4)

where αij is the Lagrange–Euler parameter matrix. δij is the Kronecker delta. χ means ALE coordinates and X is the material coordinates. w is the relative velocity. If w = 0, the Lagrangian description is obtained. If w = v, the Eulerian formulation is used. The convective velocity c is the difference between the material ˆ velocity v and the mesh velocity v, and can be expressed as ˆ ci = vi − vi = ∂xi (χ, t) wj ∂χj (5)

Substituting Eq. (4) into Eq. (5) the convective velocity can be rewritten as ∂xi (δjk − αjk )vk (6) ci = ∂χj ˆ vi = vi − (δjk − αjk )vk ∂xi ∂χj (7)

The basic equation for mesh rezoning can be obtained ∂xi ∂t + (δjk − αjk )vk ∂xi − vi = 0 ∂χj (8)

χ

2.3. Contact properties Two different models can be used in the computation, i.e. the slipping interface model and the frictional contact model. Although the slipping interface model can provide a possible connection to the fluid dynamics based simulation models, it

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H.W. Zhang et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 183 (2007) 62–70

Fig. 1. Modified Coulomb law.

Fig. 3. The fitted temperature field in FSW.

is known that the frictional force at the interface cannot be increased without limit. So the second model, i.e. frictional contact model, is used in the current work. The interface may experience the frictional contact described by a modified Coulomb friction law, as shown in Fig. 1. The Coulomb friction law is modified so that there is a maximum critical frictional stress, above which the frictional stress stays constant and is no longer equal to the product of the friction coefficient and the contact pressure. It is necessary to use the frictional contact interface in order to model the plastic shear flow behavior of the plate material when the applied shear stress is near the material’s shear √ failure stress. A reasonable upper bound τmax = σu / 3 is used, where σ u means the current yield strength of the material. 2.4. Boundary conditions At the boundaries of the plates, material particles move with a constant speed v relative to the pin, in the direction opposite to the translational movement of the pin. Pin rotates with an angular velocity ω, as shown in Fig. 2. The velocities in the calculation are increased by 1000 times to accelerate the convergence. An axial load is applied on the shoulder to prevent the upsurge of the material.

2.5. Temperature field The heat generated at the interface between the pin and the work piece in FSW is the driving force to make FSW successful [14]. The heat flux must keep the maximum temperature in the work piece high enough so that the material is sufficiently soft to be stirred but low enough so the material does not melt. The limitation of the PC computing power makes a fully thermomechanical analysis difficult to be completed. To compensate the lack of a predicted temperature field, actual temperature values from the practical FSW test [17] are used to construct an approximate temperature field in the simulation of the FSW process, as shown in Fig. 3. The maximum temperature created by FSW ranges from 80 to 90% of the melting temperature of the welding material, as measured by Tang et al. [12] and Colegrove et al. [13]. Due to the limitation of the melting temperature, there are no big differences between the approximate temperature field being used in the computation and the practical one in the manufacture. So the approximate temperature field can be available for the numerical modeling of FSW. 3. Results and discussions 3.1. Case 1: v = 2 mm/s; ω = 390 rpm; P = 10, 25, 50, 100 MPa The microstructure distributions and the equivalent plastic strain distributions are compared in Fig. 4. It can be seen that the welding zone can be divided into three regions: the nugget zone, the thermo-mechanical zone (TMZ), and the heat affected zone (HAZ). The regions usually have noticeably different microstructures. The contours of the equivalent plastic strain in Fig. 4(c) have the same distribution as the microstructure distribution in Fig. 4(a and b). The low strain region (<16) seems to correspond to HAZ, the intermediate strain region (16–20) to the TMZ, and the high strain region (>20) to the nugget zone. Within the nugget zone, the equivalent plastic strain is higher and the grain size is also smaller. The maximum of the equivalent plastic strain occurs on the advancing side and the gradient is also higher on the advancing side. The equivalent plastic strain is larger near the top surface than near the bottom surface, which can be attributed to the larger plastic flow near the top surface

Fig. 2. The geometry model and the boundary conditions of FSW.

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Fig. 4. The comparison of the microstructure and the equivalent plastic strain (a) microstructure; (b) main regions of friction stir welds; (c) equivalent plastic strain distribution on the cross section when the axial load P = 10 MPa.

created by the mechanical action of the rotating shoulder. The equivalent plastic strain distributions under varying axial loads are shown in Fig. 5. It is shown that with the increase of the load, the equivalent plastic strain in the nugget zone is increased, but the change of the axial load does not have a clear effect on the equivalent plastic strain in HAZ and TMZ. When the axial

load is 25 MPa, the equivalent plastic strain in the nugget zone is increased 0.1, e.g. from 29.2 to 29.3, as shown in Fig. 5(a). When the axial load is 50 MPa, the equivalent plastic strain is also increased about 0.1, compared with the results in Fig. 5(a). When the axial load is 100 MPa, the equivalent plastic strain can be increased about 0.3, compared with the curves in Fig. 5(a). It

Fig. 5. The equivalent plastic strain distributions (a) the axial load P = 25 MPa; (b) the axial load P = 50 MPa; (c) the axial load P = 100 MPa.

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Fig. 6. The radial velocity of the material around the pin under different axial loads (a) Z = 0 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (b) Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (c) Z = 2 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (d) Z = 2.5 mm, R = 3.05 mm.

is clear that the equivalent plastic strain in the nugget zone can be increased about 0.1 when the axial load is increased about 25 MPa. It seems that there is a quasi-linear relation between the change of axial load and the variation of equivalent plastic strain

in the nugget zone. Basically, the distribution of equivalent plastic strain is not symmetric strictly. On the advancing side, the gradient of the equivalent plastic strain is higher. The maximum of the equivalent plastic strain occurs on the advancing side.

Fig. 7. The tangent velocity of the material around the pin in FSW under different axial loads (a) Z = 0 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (b) Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (c) Z = 2 mm, R = 3.05 mm; (d) Z = 2.5 mm, R = 3.05 mm.

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The radial movements of the material in FSW in different thicknesses of the friction stir welds are shown in Fig. 6. (The velocities applied to the boundary of the plate and pin in this analysis have been increased 1000 times.) The maximum of the radial velocity occurs near θ = 160◦ , but in the region of θ = 180–250◦ the radial velocity is nearly zero (RθZ is a cylindrical coordinate system being fixed on the pin, as shown in Fig. 2). That is, the flow of the material in front of the pin on the retreating side is faster, but the flow behind the pin on the retreating side is slower. In different depth, the effect of the change of the axial load is slightly different. The fluctuating of the radial velocity is larger when the material is near the top surface, especially in the region behind the pin on the retreating side. With the increase of the axial load on the shoulder, the change of the radial velocity is very small. It can be seen from Fig. 7 that the maximum of the tangent velocity of the material occurs in the region of θ = 150–180◦ . The values of the tangent velocity are much larger than the ones of the radial velocity. The maximum of the tangent velocity is about 50 m/s, and the maximum of the radial velocity is only approximately 6 m/s. So it is certain that the movement of the material in the tangent direction takes the main contribution to the flow of the material in FSW. In the region of θ = 190–240◦ , the values of the tangent velocity is relatively smaller. So it can be concluded that the flow of the material in front of the pin on the retreating side is faster and the flow of the material behind the pin on the retreating side is slower. With the increase of the axial load, the change of the tangent velocity is very small and is uncertain. Fig. 8 shows the material movement in Z direction around the pin under different axial loads. The curve is approximately anti-symmetric with respect to the direction perpendicular to the welding line. The vertical velocity in front of pin is positive and the one behind the pin is negative. In fact, the material in front

Fig. 8. The velocity of the material in Z direction around the pin in FSW under different axial loads (Z = 2 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

of the pin moves upward due to the extrusion of the pin and is forced to rotate around the pin and then, the material behind the pin is pressed to move downward in the wake, which makes the friction stir process continuing successfully. It is difficult to judge the effect of the change of load on the variation of the vertical velocity distributions. 3.2. Case 2: P = 50 MPa; ω = 390 rpm; v = 4, 8, 10 mm/s Compared with the contours in Fig. 5(b), the values of the equivalent plastic strain in Fig. 9(a–c) become smaller in HAZ and TMZ, but in nugget zone the difference is not so clear. The gradient of the equivalent plastic strain in Z direction also decreases with the increase of translational velocity of the pin. Fig. 9(b and c) shows the equivalent plastic strain distributions when the translational velocity of the pin is 8 and 10 mm/s, respectively. The equivalent plastic strain near the top surface is much higher than the one near the bottom surface due to the effect of the shoulder. But with the increase of the translational

Fig. 9. The equivalent plastic strain distributions in friction stir welds when (a) v = 4 mm/s; (b) v = 8 mm/s; (c) v = 10 mm/s.

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Fig. 10. The radial velocity distributions around the pin under different translational velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

Fig. 12. The velocity distributions around the pin in Z direction in FSW under different translational velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

Fig. 11. The tangent velocity distributions around the pin under different translational velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

velocity, the effect of the shoulder on the equivalent plastic strain in HAZ and TMZ decreases. The equivalent plastic strains on the both sides become more similar with the increase of the translational velocity of the pin.

From the above discussions on the material flow, it can be concluded that the material flows in different thicknesses are very similar. So, in the following parts, only Z = 1 mm is considered to study the material flow under varying process parameters. The radial velocity distribution of the welded plate is shown in Fig. 10. It can be seen that the maximum of the radial velocity increases with the increase of the translational velocity. The maximum radial velocity occurs in the region near θ = 180◦ . The variation of the translational velocity can change the flow of the material in this region. In the others regions, the effect of the change of the translational velocity is uncertain. With the increase of the translational velocity, the maximum of the tangent velocity around the pin in the region of θ =90–270◦ does have an increase although the increase is relatively small, as shown in Fig. 11. In the other regions, the effect of the change of the translational velocity can be neglected. It is clear that the tangent velocity of the material in FSW is not always positive. On the advancing side, there is a region in which the tangent velocity

Fig. 13. The equivalent plastic strain distributions in friction stir welds when the angular velocity is (a) 460 rpm; (b) 550 rpm; (c) 690 rpm.

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Fig. 14. The radial flow of the material near the pin in FSW under different angular velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

Fig. 16. The flow of the material near the pin in Z direction under different angular velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

becomes negative. It means that the flow of the material in FSW does not keep steady and a swirl is forming on the advancing side. When the translational velocity is very small, e.g. v = 2 mm/s, the swirl is not very clear. With the increase of the translational velocity of the pin, the maximum of the negative velocity in tangent direction becomes larger. Fig. 12 shows the velocity in Z direction when Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm. Although the velocity in Z direction is far smaller than the one in the tangent or the radial direction, the velocity distribution is very important due to the smaller size of the plate in Z direction. With the increase of the translational velocity, the maximum of the velocity in front of the pin is increased. The vertical velocity is not strictly anti-symmetric. 3.3. Case 3: P = 50 MPa; v = 2 mm/s; ω = 460, 550, 690 rpm The equivalent plastic strain distributions in friction stir welds under different angular velocities are shown in Fig. 13. With the increase of the angular velocity, the values of the equivalent plastic strain are increased in all the three zones including the nugget zone, HAZ and TMZ. Especially in the nugget zone, the gradient of the plastic equivalent plastic strain is increased noticeably. It is shown in Fig. 14 that the maximum radial velocity is increased with the increase of the angular velocity. The tangent

velocity in Fig. 15 is much larger than the radial one in Fig. 14. With the increase of the angular velocity, the tangent velocity in the region of θ = 90–200◦ is increased apparently. Fig. 16 shows the flow of the material in Z direction under different angular velocities when Z = 1 mm and R = 3.05 mm. The maximum of the vertical velocity always occurs either on the point in front of the pin or the point behind the pin near the welding line. Behind the pin, the maximum vertical velocity is decreased with the increase of the angular velocity. 4. Conclusions Finite element method can be successfully applied to model the 3D material flow in FSW. The acquired results are summarized as follows: (1) There exists a good correlation between the equivalent plastic strain distribution and the distribution of the microstructure zones in the weld. (2) The distribution of equivalent plastic strain is not strictly symmetric. On the advancing side, the gradient of the equivalent plastic strain is higher. The maximum of the equivalent plastic strain occurs on the advancing side. (3) The equivalent plastic strain distribution in the nugget zone can be affected by the variations of the axial load on the shoulder, but the ones in HAZ and TMZ are not affected. With the increase of the axial load, the equivalent plastic strain in the nugget zone can be increased. (4) There is a quasi-linear relation between the change of the axial load on the shoulder and the variation of the equivalent plastic strain in the nugget zone. (5) The flow of the material in front of the pin on the retreating side is faster, but the flow behind the pin on the retreating side is slower. (6) The material in front of the pin moves upward and the material behind the pin moves downward in FSW. (7) The tangent movement of the material takes the main contributions to the flow of the material in FSW. (8) With the increase of the translational velocity or the angular velocity of the pin, the maximum material velocity can be increased.

Fig. 15. The tangent flow of the material near the pin under different angular velocities (Z = 1 mm, R = 3.05 mm).

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H.W. Zhang et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 183 (2007) 62–70 [7] S.W. Xu, X.M. Deng, A three-dimensional model for the friction stir welding process, in: Proceedings of the 21st Southeastern Conference on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics XXI, Orlando, Frorida, May 19–21, 2002. [8] J.Q. Su, T.W. Nelson, R. Mishra, M. Mahoney, Microstructural investigation of friction stir welded 7050-T651 aluminum, Acta Mater. 51 (2003) 713–729. [9] M.A. Sutton, B. Yang, A.P. Reynolds, R. Taylor, Microstructural studies of friction stir welds in 2024-T3 aluminum, Mater. Sci. Eng. A 323 (2002) 160–166. [10] H.G. Salem, A.P. Reynolds, J.S. Lyons, Microstructure and retention of superplasticity of friction stir welded superplastic 2095 sheet, Scripta Mater. 46 (2002) 337–342. [11] W.B. Lee, S.B. Jung, The joint properties of copper by friction stir welding, Mater. Lett. 58 (2004) 1041–1046. [12] W. Tang, X. Guo, J.C. McClure, L.E. Numes, Heat input and temperature distribution in friction stir welding, J. Mater. Process. Manuf. Sci. 7 (1998) 163–172. [13] P. Colegrove, M. Painter, D. Graham, T. Miller, 3 dimensional flow and thermal modeling of the friction stir welding process, in: Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Friction Stir Welding, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 26–28, 2000. [14] Y.J. Chao, X. Qi, W. Tang, Heat transfer in friction stir welding— experimental and numerical studies, J. Manuf. Sci. Eng. A 125 (2003) 138–145. [15] W.F. Brown, H. Mindlin, C.Y. Ho, Aerospace Structural Metals Handbook, CINDAS/USAF CRDA Handbooks Operation, Perdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA, 1997. [16] T. Belytschko, W.K. Liu, B. Moran, Nonlinear Finite Elements for Continua and Structures, John Wiley, New York, 2000. [17] J.C. McClure, Z. Feng, W. Tang, J.E. Gould, L.E. Murr, X. Guo, A thermal model of friction stir welding, in: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Trends in Welding Research, Pine Mountain, 1998.

(9) There exists a swirl on the advancing side and the material flow in the swirl on the advancing side becomes faster with the increase of the translational velocity. Acknowledgements This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (10225212, 10421202, 10302007), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University of China (PCSIRT) and the National Key Basic Research Special Foundation of China (2005CB321704). The authors would also like to thank Prof. X.M. Deng, Dr. S.W. Xu and Prof. A.P. Reynolds at the University of South Carolina for their helpful suggestions on the current research. References
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