FRICTION STIR WELDING
WHAT IS FRICTION STIR WELDING?
Friction stir welding is an innovative method of joining metals. This process utilizes frictional heat and precise forging pressure to produce remarkably strong joints and minimal mechanical distortion. Moreover, the welds achieved through friction stir welding exhibit an outstanding surface finish.
The friction stir welding (FSW) process revolutionizes metal joining by transforming the parent metal from a solid to a plasticized state. Through meticulous control of process conditions, materials are mechanically stirred together, culminating in a high-integrity, full penetration welded joint.
To achieve this, a specially designed rotational probe is configured with the necessary process parameters for the FSW application. This probe is then brought into contact with the metals at the joint interface.
With precise control over the axis conditions and closed-loop monitoring of load and position, the probe follows a pre-programmed weld path through the material. As the probe rotates, the friction generates heat, causing the surrounding material to become plasticized, forming a locally formable region. Concurrently, the material at the trailing edge is forged under pressure from the probe shoulder, effectively combining to form a strong, cohesive bond.
Unlike fusion welding, the friction stir welding process does not melt the metals to be joined. As a result, the weld region retains the grain structure integrity and mechanical properties of the original parent metal.
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THE BENEFITS OF FRICTION STIR WELDING
Friction Stir Welding is a solid-state welding process known for its exceptional advantages. As a largely defect-free joining method, FSW eliminates issues like hot cracking, porosity, and solidification cracks. Moreover, the process operates at lower temperatures, reducing shrinkage and distortion in the joined material. Notably, FSW for aluminum alloys requires no filler materials, flux, or shielding gas, making it environmentally friendly by producing no fume, spatter, or UV radiation.
The use of machine tool technology in FSW facilitates easy automation, resulting in highly repeatable outcomes and diminishing the demand for skilled welders. Additionally, FSW’s versatility is evident as it can work in any position, offering flexibility in various applications. The resulting mechanical properties of FSW joints in aluminum alloys are excellent, often exceeding those obtained by competing processes. Furthermore, FSW is energy-efficient and capable of joining many “non-weldable” aluminum alloys, including those from the 2xxx and 7xxx series, without requiring special edge preparation in most applications. These combined advantages make Friction Stir Welding a highly desirable and effective method for a wide range of welding needs.
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