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Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689

Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Materials and Design journal

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Materials and Design

Design journal homepage: www.else vier.com/locate/matdes Effect of interfacial reaction layer continuity on the

Effect of interfacial reaction layer continuity on the tensile strength of resistance spot welded joints between aluminum alloy and steels

Ranfeng Qiu a, * , Shinobu Satonaka b , Chihiro Iwamoto b

a School of Materials Science and Engineering, Henan University of Science and Technology, Xiyuan Road 48, Luoyang, 471003, China b Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kumamoto University, Kurokami 2-39-1, Kumamoto, 860-8555, Japan

article info

Article history:

Received 9 October 2008 Accepted 12 February 2009 Available online 20 February 2009

Keywords:

Aluminum alloy Reaction layer Resistance spot welding Interface Strength

abstract

We have joined aluminum alloy A5052 to cold-rolled steel SPCC and austenitic stainless steel SUS304 using resistance spot welding. The interfacial microstructures have been observed using scanning elec- tron microscopy and the tensile strength of the joints have been examined by cross tension testing. We have investigated the effect of interfacial reaction layer on the tensile strength of the joints based on the analyses of the fracture surfaces and the distribution of reaction layer thickness in the welding interface for two types of dissimilar materials joints. The results reveal that the tensile strength of joint is related to the fraction of discontinuous reaction layer.

2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

The need for joints between dissimilar materials often arises in automotive industries, because sound joints between dissimilar materials enable multi material design methodologies and low cost fabrication process to be employed. From the point of view of material supply, aluminum alloy and steel are the most important construction materials for automotive structures; therefore, the availability of a sound joining technique between aluminum alloy and steel is indispensable. However, the joining between the two kinds of materials accompanies some difficulties, because of the large difference in physical and thermal properties between alumi- num alloy and steel, and the formation of brittle reaction products at the welding interface. Accordingly, many researchers have sought to join them using several developed welding methods, for example, Sun et al. and Oikawa et al. have welded aluminum alloy to steel by resistance spot welding with transition material sheet, and examined the static and dynamic strength of the joint [1,2] , Rathod and Kutsuna have joined aluminum alloy 5052 and low-carbon steel using a method of laser roll welding, and investi- gated the interfacial microstructure and strength of the joint [3] , and Aizawa et al. have studied the performance of SPCC/aluminum alloy joint welded magnetic pulse welding [4] . As a result, it is well known that brittle reaction products, which formed at the welding interface, would deteriorate the tensile strength of steel/aluminum alloy joint. However, in regard to how the reaction products affect

* Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +86 37964979361. E-mail address: xdqrf@yahoo.com.cn (R. Qiu).

0261-3069/$ - see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.matdes.2009.02.012

the strength of joint between aluminum alloy and steel, few re- searches have been reported to date. On the other hand, under- standing the effect details of the reaction products on the strength of joint is necessary to optimize processing–property rela- tionship so as to obtain a strong joint. In the present study, there- fore, we investigated the relationship between the interfacial reaction layer and the tensile strength of steels/aluminum alloy joints welded by resistance spot welding that is a widely used and important welding process in the fields of automotive manufacturing.

2. Experimental procedures

The materials used in this study were 1.0 mm thick sheet of alu-

minum alloy A5052, cold-rolled steel SPCC and austenitic stainless steel SUS304. Their chemical compositions are listed in Table 1 . The material combinations of A5052/SPCC, and A5052/SUS304 were welded using the technique of resistance spot welding with

a cover plate. Fig. 1 a and b shows the shape of specimens and

the schematic diagram of the process, respectively. Further details

concerning the procedure of resistance spot welding with a cover plate have been published in the literature [5,6] . Welding condi-

tions are given in Table 2 . Here, to investigate the tensile strength

of the joints with different thick interfacial reaction layer, we chan-

ged the welding current every 1 kA between 6 and 12 kA in the welding process, because the interfacial reaction layer thickness

varies with the welding current [2,6] . After welding, the specimens were cross-sectioned, ground and polished. The microstructure at the welding interface was

 

R. Qiu et al. / Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689

 

3687

Table 1 Chemical composition of materials (mass %).

 
 

Mg

Fe

Cr

Si

Mn

Cu

C

P

S

Ni

Zn

Al

A5052

2.2

0.27

0.19

0.09

0.049

0.027

––––

 

0.005

Bal.

SUS304

Bal.

18.0

0.85

1.25

0.06

0.04

0.02

8.0

SPCC

Bal.

0.004

0.05

0.01

0.01

0.004 – 0.05 0.01 0.01 – – – Fig. 1. The shape of specimens (a) and

Fig. 1. The shape of specimens (a) and the schematic diagram of the process (b).

Table 2

Welding conditions.

Electrode

Cu–Cr alloy conical electrode tip (ø6)

Welding current

6–12 kA 0.2 s 1715 N Degreasing with acetone

Welding time

Electrode force

Pre-treatment

observed using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The thick- ness of reaction layer formed at the welding interface was mea- sured as the average value in 30 30 l m SEM image taken every 100 l m along the interface. Cross tension tests were performed under a cross-head velocity of 1.7 10 5 m/s at room temper- ature. In the present study, similar material joints of aluminum alloy (A5052/A5052) were also prepared to compare strength with the dissimilar material joints A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304. In such a case, the aluminum alloy sheets were placed between both cover plates when they are welded.

3. Results and discussion

The SEM observations revealed that the reaction layer formed in the welding interface of the all dissimilar materials joints. Fig. 2 a and b shows a typical SEM image of the interfacial region of

A5052/SPCC joint and A5052/SUS304 joint which were welded un- der the condition of welding current of 10 kA, respectively. In either image, a reaction layer was observed at the welding inter- face, it has been clarified which consists of reaction products Fe 2 Al 5 and FeAl 3 in the literature [6] . The interfacial reaction layers exhib- ited typical morphology in the thickness direction as shown in Fig. 2 a and b. In the A5052/SPCC interface, the reaction layer showed the tongue-like morphology adjacent to the SPCC, whereas the fine needle-like reaction products front orientated towards the base metal in the A5052 region side. On the other hand, the reac- tion layer formed in the A5052/SUS304 interface exhibited flat front in the SUS304 side and serrate morphology in the A5052 side. Similar morphology was also observed in the other joints welded at different welding current. It is also seen from Fig. 2 a and b that there was significant difference in thickness between the reaction layers formed in the A5052/SPCC interface and the A5052/SUS304 interface, and that the reaction layer of the A5052/SPCC interface was thicker than the reaction layer formed in the A5052/SUS304 interface. Practically, the reaction layer thickness varied with the position in the welding interface. Fig. 2 c and d shows an example of the dis- tribution of reaction layer thickness at both the A5052/SPCC inter- face and A5052/SUS304 interface, respectively, which were also obtained from the joints welded under the condition of welding current of 10 kA. Both the A5052/SPCC interface and A5052/ SUS304 interface showed that the reaction layer was thick at the central region, decreased their thickness with the distance from the center, and finally became discontinuous layer at the periphe- ral region. Moreover, it should be noted that the width of discon- tinuous reaction layer (denoted by W ) in the A5052/SPCC interface was wider than that formed in the A5052/SUS304 inter- face. Similar results were also observed in the other joints welded under different welding current. The characteristic values of the interfacial reaction layer thickness distribution of all dissimilar materials joints; the maximum thickness of reaction layer ap- peared at the central region ( T ), the radius of weld ( R ), the width of discontinuous reaction layer appeared at the peripheral region of the weld ( W ) as marked in Fig. 2 c and d, and the discontinuous reaction layer fraction ( F = W / R ), are summarized in Table 3 . Here, these values were based on the average value over five joints per condition. As given in Table 3 , T and R increased whereas W and F decreased for the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 interfaces with increasing of the welding current. Under the same welding condi- tion, the A5052/SPCC joints exhibited larger T , W , F and smaller R in comparison with the A5052/SUS304 joints. In order to examine the tensile strength of the joints having the interfacial reaction layer as mentioned above, the cross tension tests were performed. Fig. 3 a shows the relationship between the nugget diameter and the cross tension load of three types of joint; the A5052/SPCC, A5052/SUS304 and A5052/A5052 joint. Here, nugget diameter was measured on the fractured surface after the tensile shear testing of the joints. As shown, the both types of dis- similar materials joints; the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 joint, revealed that the cross tension load hardly varied with increasing of the nugget diameter, whereas the cross tension load of the A5052/A5052 joint increased with increasing of the nugget diame- ter. Under the same nugget diameter, the both types of dissimilar materials joints showed lower cross tension load in comparison

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R. Qiu et al. / Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689

R. Qiu et al. / Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689 Fig. 2. SEM images of

Fig. 2. SEM images of the A5052/SPCC interface (a) and A5052/SUS304 interface (b); the distribution of reaction layer thickness at the A5052/SPCC interface (c) and A5052/ SUS304 interface (d).

Table 3 Experimental data. I : welding current used welded joint; T: thickness of reaction layer in weld center; R : radius of weld; W: width of discontinuous reaction layer; F :

discontinuous reaction layer fraction (W/ R ).

I (kA)

A5052/SPCC joints

A5052/SUS304 joints

T ( l m)

R (mm)

W (mm)

F

T ( l m)

R (mm)

W (mm)

F

6

1.35

1.97

1.135

0.576

0.85

2.49

1.408

0.565

7

2.36

2.71

0.942

0.348

1.25

3.18

0.907

0.285

8

2.65

3.13

0.917

0.293

1.45

3.69

0.730

0.198

9

4.51

3.61

0.749

0.207

1.54

3.80

0.625

0.164

10

5.25

4.22

0.720

0.170

2.01

4.47

0.507

0.113

11

6.25

4.28

0.698

0.163

2.10

4.63

0.486

0.105

12

6.75

4.45

0.587

0.132

2.25

4.96

0.471

0.095

with the A5052/A5052 joints where no reaction layer formed in the welding interface. These results suggest that the tensile strength of the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 joint were affected by the interfacial reaction layer. In addition, the fracture type of the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 joints were interfacial fracture, whereas the fracture type of the A5052/A5052 joints were plug fracture. Fig. 3 b shows the relationship between the welding cur- rent and tensile strength of the dissimilar materials joints; the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 joint. Here, the values of tensile strength (identical with the ration the cross tension load to the area of fracture surface) are average values for five joints welded under the same welding conditions. It should be noted that the A5052/SPCC joint exhibited higher tensile strength than the A5052/SUS304 joint under the same welding conditions, although the reaction layer in the A5052/SPCC interface was thicker than that formed in the A5052/SUS304 interface. This is contradiction to the results reported by Kuroda et al., who have investigated the influence of the reaction layer thickness on the tensile strength of steel/aluminum alloy joints welded by diffusion bonding, and claimed that the tensile strength of joints increase with increasing of reaction layer thickness up to approximately 1 l m and it de- creases above the reaction layer thickness of 1 l m [7] . In order to clarify the reason for the discrepancy between the result reported by Kuroda et al. and that of this study, we observed

and analyzed fracture surfaces. Fig. 4 a and b shows the A5052 side fracture surfaces obtained from the cross tension testing of the A5052/SPCC and A5052/SUS304 joint, respectively, which were welded under the welding condition of welding current of 10 kA. It can be seen from Fig. 4 a and b that there are two regions in the fracture surface, the flat central region (R) with bright contrast and the peripheral region (B) with dark contrast as illustrated in Fig. 4 c and d. The analysis of the fracture surface and distribution of interfacial reaction layer thickness, revealed that the reaction layer was continuous in the R region, and that the reaction layer was discontinuous in the B region. In the previous study, we have clarified that the joint fractured from the reaction layer in the for- mer case whereas the joint fractured from the A5052 in the latter case by determining elemental distributions on the fracture sur- face using electron probe microanalysis [8] . From Table 3 , it can be seen that the discontinuous reaction layer formed in the A5052/SPCC interface was wider than that formed in the A5052/ SUS304 interface under the same welding condition. The wider dis- continuous reaction layer caused that the larger area which the joint fractured from the A5052, and so the A5052/SPCC joint had higher tensile strength although its reaction layer was thicker. Therefore, the difference in the distribution of reaction layer thick- ness at the welding interface is considered to be the reason for the discrepancy between the result reported by Kuroda et al. and that

R. Qiu et al. / Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689

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Qiu et al. / Materials and Design 30 (2009) 3686–3689 3689 Fig. 3. Relationships between nugget

Fig. 3. Relationships between nugget diameters and cross tension load (a) and between nugget welding current and tensile strength of dissimilar joints (b).

current and tensile strength of dissimilar joints (b). Fig. 4. A5052 side fracture surface of A5052/SPCC

Fig. 4. A5052 side fracture surface of A5052/SPCC joint (a) and its schematic illustration (c); A5052 side fracture surface of A5052/SUS304 joint (b) and its schematic illustration (d).

of this study. That is, the thickness of reaction layer formed in resistance spot welded joint varied with the position in the weld- ing interface and even appeared discontinuous at the peripheral re- gion of the weld, whereas the thickness of reaction layer formed in diffusion bonded joint was uniformity at the bonding interface. The

bonded joint was uniformity at the bonding interface. The Fig. 5. Relationship between discontinuous reaction layer

Fig. 5. Relationship between discontinuous reaction layer fraction and tensile strength of dissimilar joints.

distribution of reaction layer thickness at the welding interface would cause the variation of fracture crack path during tensile test- ing. In other words, the influence of discontinuous reaction layer width overshadowed the effect of reaction layer thickness on the tensile strength of joint welded by RSW. Fig. 5 shows the relationship between discontinuous reaction layer fraction ( F ) and tensile strength of dissimilar materials joints ( S ), in which F and S were based on the average value over five joints per condition as mentioned above. As shown, the tensile strength of both types of dissimilar materials joint exhibited the same increasing tendency with increasing of discontinuous reac- tion layer fraction. This reveals that the tensile strength of the joint was related to the discontinuous reaction layer fraction.

4. Conclusions

In the present study, we have investigated the effect of interfa- cial reaction layer on the tensile strength of steels/aluminum alloy joint, by analyzing the distribution of interfacial reaction layer thickness and the fracture surfaces. The analyzed results reveal that the tensile strength of resistance spot welded steel/aluminum alloy joint is related to the discontinuous reaction layer fraction, and that a strong steel/aluminum alloy joint would be fabricated by a welding process which is helpful discontinuous reaction layer formation in the welding interface.

References

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