Microhardness, strength and strain field characterization of self-reacting friction stir weld and friction plug welds of dissimilar aluminum alloys
Friction stir welding (FSW) is a solid state welding process with potential advantages for aerospace and automotive industries dealing with light alloys. Self-reacting friction stir welding (SR-FSW) is one variation of the FSW process being developed at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for use in the fabrication of propellant tanks. Friction plug welding is used to seal the exit hole that remains in a circumferential SR-FSW. This work reports on material properties and strain patterns developed in a SR-FSW with a friction plug weld. Specifically, this study examines the behavior of a SR-FSW formed between an AA2014-T6 plate on the advancing side and an AA2219-T87 plate on the retreating side and a SR-FSW (AA2014-T6 to AA2219-T87) with a 2219-T87 plug weld. This study presents the results of a characterization of the micro-hardness, joint strength, and strain field characterization of SR-FSW and FPW joints tested at room temperature and cryogenic temperatures. The initial weld microstructure analysis showed a nugget region with fine grains and a displaced weld seam from the advancing side past the thermo-mechanical affected zone (TMAZ) into the nugget region. The displaced material shared the same hardness as the parent material. Dynamic recrystallization was observed in the SR-FSW zone and the displaced weld seam region. The welds revealed a fine grain structure in the SR-FSW zone with a sharp demarcation seen on the advancing side and fairly diffuse flow observed on the retreating side. The parent material hardness is 145 HV_700g with a drop in hardness starting at the HAZ to 130 HV_700g . The hardness further drops in the TMAZ to118 HV_700g with an increase representing a dispersed interface of AA2014-T6 material to 135 HV_700g . The hardness then drops significantly within the nugget region to 85 HV_700g followed by an increase through the retreating side TMAZ into the HAZ to 135 HV_700g . There was a sharp increase in the hardness value within the nugget region with the samples that were PWHT showing an increase of 58%. The welded joints were tested for ultimate strength. The testing variations included two specimen widths, two plug sizes (M3 and M5), room temperature and cryogenic testing, and post weld heat treated (PWHT) samples. Initial welds had an average ultimate strength of 370 MPa. There was a slight drop from initial weld strength to plug weld strength of approximately 13.8 MPa was observed with M3 plug strength approximately equal to M5 plug strength. The PWHT strengths at room temperature were slightly higher than non-PWHT of 13.8-20.7 MPa and PWHT strengths were equal to non-PWHT at cryogenic temperature. Non-PWHT had a cryogenic strength enhancement approximately 59.2 MPa and PWHT had a cryogenic strength enhancement of approximately 57.2 MPa in the M3 and M5 plugs. Within the subsets of data collected no major statistical significance in strength behavior was observed between the samples tested at room temperature or between the subsets tested at room temperature or between the subsets tested at cryogenic temperature. In almost all cases, failure occurred on the retreating side of the weld which corresponds to the softer material (AA2219-T87). Exceptions were characterized with flaws (weld defects) in the sample. In these cases, failure occurred on the advancing side, the side where flaws were detected. Ductile fracture was noted in most all samples. Digital image correlation using the ARAMIS system was used to define strain patterns in the weld joint. Strain accumulation was observed in the weld along the retreating side and around the plug. ARAMIS data in comparison to extensometer data shows a very reasonable comparison. The ARAMIS strain gage data showed the retreating side of the major diameter has a greater yield than the advancing side. This behavior is identical to the external electrical resistance strain gages.