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heat distortion
FSW: the joining method which exploits the laws
of nature. All we add is mechanical effort.

A rotating tool is plunged into the joint line and moved along the joint.
Neither flux nor filler material are used.

The Friction Stir Welding method of joining is based on the

fact that the metal is subjected to heavy plastic deformation at
high temperatures, but lower than the melting point.
When the rotating tool is plunged into the metal, friction
heat is generated. The tool produces severe plastic deformation
under high pressure, during which the weld interfaces are
stirred together and a homogenous structure is formed.
Compared with fusion welding, Friction Stir Welding provides:
­– increased strength
– improved sealing. Completely void-free, leakproof joints
with greater strength than fusion-welded joints
– the weld is in principle flush with the parent material
– reduced heat distortion
– improved repeatability. The FSW operation comprises a small
number of variables which it is easy to monitor: tools, feeding
rate, rpm, and position of tool. This also permits close
Panels up to 14.5 m in The structure
length of the joint

FSW is an established technique The FSW weld is homogenous and void-free without any oxide inclusions
FSW was invented by The Welding
To provide a picture of FSW, we have FSW is created without fluxes, and no
Institute (TWI) in Cambridge, England.
decided to compare it with the most shielding gas is used.
Sapa has played an active part in
commonly used method of welding – fusion The joint is made subject to the
the process of converting theory and
welding. influence of friction heat, and severe plastic
laboratory experiments into full-scale
As we show in this brochure, FSW deformation. The material which will be
provides advantages which can be exploited joined never reaches the melting point,
Sapa started series production in
in a variety of designs. but the profiles are welded together in the
1996, and can supply panels up to 3m
At the same time we must stress that same way as in the case of the extrusion of
in width and 14.5 m in length, joined
we often use fusion welding (MIG) in the hollow profiles.
together using FSW.
further refinement of aluminum profiles. This The result is a homogenous and void-
After extensive tests, several
procedure does have its place in production. free weld without inclusions.
leading Classification Associations have
Fusion welding, MIG for example, uses The FSW process is marked by its
approved deliveries from the process
filler material and shielding gas. limited number of variables, which are easy
for demanding tasks within railway and
The filler material and the parent metal to monitor. This gives the same results from
marine applications.
are melted and produce a weld with a one weld to the next.
different solidification structure. Fusion welding is a more complicated
With MIG and TIG welding it is necessary process, which means that results often
to protect the metal from reaction with the vary.
atmosphere since the rapidly formed oxide In this folder we have decided to carry
can cause failure in the weld. The oxide is out a comparison with high-quality fusion-
heavier than the molten metal, and may form welded joints.
There is also a risk of porosity.

Precipitation structure in a MIG weld Precipitation structure in a FSW weld

50 µm 50 µm

4.7 mm
7.4 mm

The MIG weld builds up. The filler material has The FSW weld: The weld is in principle flush
a different chemical composition compared to the with the material which is being welded. No filler
parent material. material is used.

The Sapa production line

Topview of MIG weld Topview of FSW weld
Strength Leakproofness Levelness

Experience and extensive testing show The joint will be absolutely leakproof. Since the FSW process takes place at a
that a FSW joint is usually stronger than a The material is welded together to form a temperature which is lower than the metal’s
fusion weld. homogenous unit. melting point, the result is:
The table below shows the standardized When we test the leakproofness we – minimal heat distortion
joint efficiency factor T for arc-welded butt are therefore testing the reliability of the – low residual stress levels and therefore
joints as specified in SS-EN 288-4. manufacturing process. easier deformation control.
The values given for FSW joints are Some 25,000 units of the heat sink The product in the illustration below is a
based on a large number of measurements, (figures below) have been supplied to heat sink panel which is used during the
and should be regarded as standard values. the customer ABB Semiconductors AG. processing of instant coffee (freeze-drying).
Since standards do not yet exist for Method of leak testing: helium leak The aluminum profiles have been joined
FSW joints, the values for fusion-welded detection. Result: no leaks due to welding using FSW to a tray measuring 530 x 1290
joints will be used to calculate strength in defect. FSW joints have also been tested mm.
standardized designs. using the water-pressure test. Any deviation in levelness in a FSW panel
The results are clear: the process is less than the combined tolerances for the
Weld factor for the ultimate tensile strength ensures a joint which can be used in profiles it contains.
of butt welds, Al-Mg-Si alloys components with the greatest requirement
Condition of
for leakproofness.
parent metal Aging Rm (w)
material after T=
Rm (pm)
before welding welding A leakproof heat sink
Arc FSW 2
The parent material is a solid profile which has
welding 1 been CNC processed by Sapa.
T4 Cold-ageing 0.9 0.9 The machined cooling channels are closed with
a cover. The joining method is FSW.
T4 Heat-ageing 0.7 ≥ 0.9
Heat sink panel: Here the heat conductibility of
T5-T6 Cold-ageing 0.6 ≥ 0.7 aluminum is used.
T5-T6 Heat-ageing 0.7 ≥ 0.8

1. e.g. MIG or TIG. 2. standard value only.

The tensile strength (Rm (w)) of the welded specimen
shall satisfy the following requirements:
Rm (w) = Rm (pm) x T,
where Rm (pm) is the specified minimum tensile
strength of the parent material and T is the joints
efficiency factor.
Sapa joins profiles measuring up to
400 mm across for panels with a high level
of mechanical strength.

Deck panels: Profiles joined together to panels up

to 3 m in width and 14.5 m in length.

Roof of train: A number of leading Classification

Associations have approved deliveries from the 25,000 produced units. All equally leakproof. The deviation in levelness of the heat sink panel is
process for demanding tasks within railway and less than the tolerance demands for the combined
marine applications. profiles it contains.
Repeatability Resistance to Sapa: so much
corrosion more than FSW

The FSW operation has a small The chemical composition of the Designs based on aluminum profiles
number of variables which are easy to material in the joint is identical to are used in virtually all industries.
monitor: tools, feeding rate, rpm, and that in the original material. Nothing Sapa profiles replace other
position of tool. This also permits close has been added. Nothing has been materials and construction methods.
tolerances. removed. Resistance to corrosion Aluminum instead of steel, copper,
In addition: with the experience thus remains unchanged in principle. plastic and wood. Extrusion instead of
of series production which we have Tests of SS-EN-AW 6082 have more expensive techniques, such as
acquired since 1996 we can confidently shown, for example, that the yield and casting or injection moulding.
state that: ultimate strength are not affected after
The joint effort of aluminum,
– very small differences will be 1,000 hours of SWAAT testing.
profiles and Sapa
apparent between one joint and
another during the production cycle Aluminum offers properties such as
and in the case of recurrent orders. low weight combined with high tensile
This applies to all variables: strength and corrosion resistance.
the structure of the joint, its strength, The metal can be re-used for the
leakproofness and levelness. same applications, time and time again,
without losing its unique qualities.
In remelting, only 5% of the original
energy input is required. Aluminum is
the perfect ecocycle metal.
Profiles: The die cost is very
reasonable. Technical limitations
are few. The possibilities are nearly
endless. Several functions can be
integrated in the profile, making it easier
to process and simpler to assemble.
High-quality surface finish is another
FSW in the automotive industry: The option.
component produced in a fully automated line.
Sapa offers extensive fabrication
of profiles. Cutting, bending, CNC
processing, hydroforming, melt welding,
anodizing and, of course, Friction
Stir Welding, are examples of such
What will the profile be used for?
Can the customer’s production line be
Limitations simplified? Can the end product be
made even more competitive? Can the
cost be reduced?
Heat sink for power electronics: High and At Sapa we ask questions, and the
uniform quality with extreme requirement
for leakproofness. FSW requires a stable work answers we give are based on experience
fixture, and it is therefore at present that is unique.
difficult, for example, to produce Sapa Profiles is the world’s leading
a joint at an intersection between producer of extruded aluminum profiles
profiles. with production plants throughout the
This means, among other things, United States, China and Europe.
that deposit welding on finished Our assets are our unique wealth
designs is seldom possible with FSW. of knowledge and experience,
Repairs can, of course, be carried out our technical resources and our
effectively using traditional methods. knowledgeable, highly motivated
Potential: FSW gives increased employees.
strength, improved leakproofness, We strive to create long-term
Panels for multi-plate freezer designed for
improved repeatability and reduced business relationships in which mutual
fish industry: After joining the joint is milled.
This gives a completely smooth surface easy heat distortion. profitability is the overriding aim.
to keep clean. The repeatability applies to all How can you take advantage of
variables: the structure of the joint, its strength,
leakproofness and panel levelness.
© 2009 Sapa Profiles, Inc. - Subject to change without prior notice.
Comment from the world
of scientific research
Torsten Höglund, Dr. Techn., Professor at Royal Institute of
Technology (KTH), Stockholm, on Friction Stir Welding:
“The heat affected zone is considerably smaller in the case
of FSW joints than with fusion welding. This means an increase
in strength and a reduction in distortion.
It can also be stated that the quality of, for example, MIG
welds varies considerably from one weld to another. FSW
ensures a constant and high quality of joint.
The Sapa production process is tried and tested, and the
qualities of aluminum which make the FSW method possible
are well known.”

Sapa Profiles, Inc.

7933 NE 21st Avenue. Portland Oregon 97211
Shaping the future