Numerical modelling of 3D plastic flow and heat transfer during friction stir welding of stainless steel

R. Nandan, G. G. Roy, T. J. Lienert, T. Debroy

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207 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional (3D) viscoplastic flow and temperature field during friction stir welding (FSW) of 304 austenitic stainless steel were mathematically modelled. The equations of conservation of mass, momentum and energy were solved in three dimensions using spatially variable thermophysical properties using a methodology adapted from well established previous work in fusion welding. Non-Newtonian viscosity for the metal flow was calculated considering strain rate and temperature dependent flow stress. The computed profiles of strain rate and viscosity were examined in light of the existing literature on thermomechanical processing of alloys. The computed results showed significant viscoplastic flow near the tool surface, and convective transport of heat was found to be an important mechanism of heat transfer. The computed temperature and velocity fields demonstrated strongly 3D nature of the transport of heat and mass indicating the need for 3D calculations. The computed temperature profiles agreed well with the corresponding experimentally measured values. The non-Newtonian viscosity for FSW of stainless steel was found to be of the same order of magnitude as that for the FSW of aluminium. Like FSW of aluminium, the viscosity was found to be a strong function of both strain rate and temperature, while strain rate was found to be the most dominant factor. A small region of recirculating plasticised material was found to be present near the tool pin. The size of this region was larger near the shoulder and smaller further away from it. Streamlines around the pin were influenced by the presence of the rotating shoulder, especially at higher elevations. Stream lines indicated that material was transported mainly around the pin in the retreating side.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-537
Number of pages12
JournalScience and Technology of Welding and Joining
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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