Modeling and Characterization of Friction Stir Fabricated Coatings on Al6061 and Al5083 Substrates

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Virginia Tech

We have created a three-dimensional, implicit finite difference model that can accurately calculate temperatures within the bulk of a sample during a friction stir fabrication process. The model was written in Wolfram Mathematica® 7 for Students, and allows for time-efficient calculation of thermal profiles. The non-dimensionality of the model allows for accurate refinement of the temporospatial mesh, and provides portability across material types. The model provides insight as to the mechanism of heat generation by qualifying the fraction of mechanical energy converted to thermal energy for different material types and sample geometries. Finally, our model gives an understanding of the effects of the heat transfer at the boundaries of the workpiece and suggests a backside heat loss localized at the center of the tool due to a decrease in thermal contact resistance.

We have explored the effects of processing parameters on the performance of the friction stir fabrication process. The process has four stages; tool insertion, warm-up, bead formation, and steady-state translation. The tool insertion phase is characterized by a rapid increase in system horsepower requirements. During the warm-up phase, the mechanical energy of the rotating tip is converted to thermal energy. Once enough thermal energy has been transferred to the workpiece, the volume between the tip and the workpiece is filled by feedstock material. Finally, the tool is translated under relatively steady-state conditions. The success or failure of the process is dependent on adequate material delivery to the system. The horsepower requirements of the process depend on the material type and the rate of material delivery.

We have explored the effect of processing parameters on the microstructure of the processed samples. Optical microscopy shows that the stratification of layers within the weld and the depth of the weld are both dependent on the processing parameters. EBSD analysis coupled with Vicker's microhardness measurements of the processed pieces show that the grain size within the weld nugget is constant over the range of processing parameters available to the system. Data also show that pressure and heat inherent in friction stir processing of strain-hardened Al5083 counteract strengthening of the temper of the alloy.

Mathematica, Finite Difference, Al6061, Al5083, Friction Stir, Aluminum, Thermal Model