The Formability of Friction Stir Welds in Automotive Stamping Environments 2005-01-1258
Automobile body and truck cab structures are composed primarily of stampings formed from monolithic and constant gage blanks. Cost and weight penalties can arise when strength or other requirements in one small area of the part leads to the use of a material or gage that is overmatched to the needs of the rest of the stamping. Tailor Welded Blanks (TWBs) are hybrid sheet products composed of either different materials or different thickness sheets that are joined together, then subjected to a stamping operation to create a formed assembly. The strategy is employed generally to save weight and material costs in the formed assembly by placing higher strength or thicker sections only where needed. The forming or stamping process requires the joint to be severely deformed along with the parent sheets. Aluminum TWBs for automotive applications are particularly problematic because of the low formability of aluminum weld metal. Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a process recently applied to Aluminum TWBs that has the potential to produce a higher quality weld. The current study presents data on the mechanical properties, formability, and FSW weld process parameter development for friction stir welded, aluminum, Tailor Welded Blanks. Friction stir welded TWBs can be shown to have higher formability, higher ductility, and lower defect content than many competing joining processes, and they can be fabricated at speeds appropriate for automotive manufacturing.