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Characterisation of Innovative Friction Stir Welding Joints for Airframe Structures: Research Overview

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Abstract: Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a relatively new process developed by The Welding Institute (TWI, Cambridge, UK) in 19911, which is proving to be a much more viable joining process for all aluminium alloys than earlier techniques. The principal prospective application of friction stir welding in aerospace is in the manufacture of fuselage and wing structure to deal with issues of excessive weight, high cost, widespread fatigue damage and energy consumption. In addition, new aerospace alloys (AA6013, AlMgSc and AlMgLi) are being studied with a view to replacing the 2XXX (Al-Cu) and 7XXX (Al-Zn) series. The absence of uniform guidelines, process specification, and a thorough understanding of thermal input via frictional heating and material flow mechanics are systemic setbacks affecting the industrial application of FSW. Prediction of the resultant microstructure and defect free nuggets for a set of process parameters and tool configuration are necessary. Hence, research activities in line with these objectives are expected to contribute to the knowledge base of FSW to mitigate these problems and enhance its adoption by the aerospace industry.

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