Experimental analysis of friction stir forming for dissimilar material joining application

Sladjan Lazarevic, Scott F. Miller, Jingjing Li, Blair E. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Mass reduction of automotive body structures is a critical part of achieving reduced CO2 emissions in the automotive industry. There has been significant work on the application of ultra high strength steels and aluminum alloys. However, the next paradigm is the integrated use of both materials, which poses a challenge of how to join the dissimilar materials. Friction stir forming is a new manufacturing process for joining dissimilar materials. The concept of this process is stir heating one material and forming it into a mechanical interlocking joint with the second material. In this research the process was experimentally analyzed in a position controlled robotic friction stir welding machine between aluminum and steel workpieces. New tool geometries were evaluated toward the goal of optimizing joint strength. The significant process parameters were identified and their optimized settings for the current experimental conditions defined using a design of experiments methodology. A scanning electron microscope was used to characterize the bonding and joint structure for single and multi-pin configurations. Two failure modes, aluminum sheet peeling and bonding delamination, i.e. braze fracture, were identified. It was found that the presence of zinc coating on the steel and overall joint geometry greatly affected the joint strength. The aluminum-zinc braze joint appears to be the largest contributor to joint strength for the single-pin joint configuration. The multi-pin geometry enabled a distribution of load to the four pins following fracture of the braze for increased joint toughness and ductility. Thus, the FSF method has been shown to exhibit potential for joining of aluminum to steel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-624
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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