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J. Mater. Sci. Technol.  2020, Vol. 43 Issue (0): 1-13    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmst.2019.12.007
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Effects of ultrasonic assisted friction stir welding on flow behavior, microstructure and mechanical properties of 7N01-T4 aluminum alloy joints
Zhiqiang Zhangab, Changshu Heab*(), Ying Liab, Lei Yuc, Su Zhaoc, Xiang Zhaoab
a School of Materials Science & Engineering, Northeastern University, Shenyang 110819, China
b Key Laboratory for Anisotropy and Texture of Materials, Northeastern University, Shenyang 110819, China
c Ningbo Institute of Industrial Technology Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ningbo 315201, China
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Conventional friction stir welding (FSW) and ultrasonic assisted friction stir welding (UAFSW) were employed to weld 6-mm thick 7N01-T4 aluminum alloy plates. Weld forming characteristics and material flow behavior in these two different welding processes were studied and compared. Ultrasonic vibration was applied directly on the weld in axial direction through the welding tool. Metal flow behavior, microstructure characteristics in the nugget zone (NZ) and evolution of the mechanical properties of naturally aged joints were studied. Results show that the ultrasonic vibration can significantly increase the welding speed of defect-free welded joint. At the rotation speed of 1200 rpm, the UAFSW can produce defect-free welded joints at a welding speed that is 50% higher than that of the conventional FSW. Ultrasonic vibrations can also improve surface quality of the joints and reduce axial force by 9%. Moreover, ultrasonic vibrations significantly increase the volume of the pin-driven zone (PDZ) and decrease the thickness of the transition zone (TZ). The number of subgrains and deformed grains resulting from the UAFSW is higher than that from the FSW. By increase the strain level and strain gradient in the NZ, the ultrasonic vibrations can refine the grains. Ultrasonic energy is the most at the top of the NZ, and gradually reduces along the thickness of the plate. The difference in strengths between the FSW and the UAFSW joints after post-weld natural aging (PWNA) is small. However, the elongation of the UAFSW is 8.8% higher than that of the FSW (PWNA for 4320 h). Fracture surface observation demonstrates that all the specimens fail by ductile fracture, and the fracture position of the UAFSW joint changes from HAZ (PWNA for 120 h) to NZ (PWNA for 720 and 4320 h).

Key words:  Ultrasonic-assisted friction stir welding      Aluminum alloy      Material flow behavior      Microstructure      Mechanical property      Natural aging     
Received:  15 October 2019     
Corresponding Authors:  He Changshu     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Zhiqiang Zhang, Changshu He, Ying Li, Lei Yu, Su Zhao, Xiang Zhao. Effects of ultrasonic assisted friction stir welding on flow behavior, microstructure and mechanical properties of 7N01-T4 aluminum alloy joints. J. Mater. Sci. Technol., 2020, 43(0): 1-13.

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Si Fe Cu Mn Mg Cr Zn V Zr Ti Al
0.074 0.163 0.076 0.435 1.03 0.016 4.48 0.015 0.2 0.021 Balance
Table 1  Chemical composition of the 7N01 aluminum alloy (wt%).
Fig. 1.  (a) Schematic diagram of UAFSW system and (b) experimental setup of UAFSW.
Fig. 2.  (a) Schematic diagram of pure aluminum foil (marker material) position and (b) sketch map of welding process.
Fig. 3.  Macrostructure of the FSW joints obtained at different welding speeds: (a) 80 mm/min, (b) 160 mm/min, (c) 200 mm/min and (d) 240 mm/min.
Fig. 4.  Macrostructure of the UAFSW joints obtained at different welding speeds: (a) 80 mm/min, (b) 160 mm/min, (c) 200 mm/min, (d) 240 mm/min, (e) 300 mm/min and (f) 340 mm/min.
Fig. 5.  Tunneling defect of the joints: (a) FSW-240 mm/min and (b) UAFSW-340 mm/min.
Fig. 6.  Comparison of surface topography of the joints: (a) surface appearance of the joint, (b) surface profile results, (c) 3D morphology of FSW and (d) 3D morphology of UAFSW.
Fig. 7.  Variation of the Z-axis force with time in FSW and UAFSW experiments.
Fig. 8.  Cross-sectional macrographs of the joints: (a) FSW and (b) UAFSW.
Fig. 9.  Microstructures in the TZ: (a) FSW and (b) UAFSW.
Fig. 10.  Distribution of deformed aluminum foil in the SDZ of joints: (a) FSW and (b) UAFSW.
Fig. 11.  Optical micrographs of the interface between the NZ and the thermo-mechanically affected zone (TMAZ): (a) FSW and (b) UAFSW.
Fig. 12.  Distribution of deformed aluminum foil in the PDZ and SWZ of the joints: (a) FSW and (b) UAFSW.
Fig. 13.  EBSD grain boundary maps at various depths in the NZ of the joints: (a) FSW-1 mm, (b) UAFSW-1 mm, (c) FSW-3 mm, (d) UAFSW-3 mm, (e) FSW-5 mm and (f) UAFSW-5 mm.
Average grain size (μm) Standard deviation of AGS Proportion of recrystallized
grains (%)
Proportion of substructured
grains (%)
Proportion of deformed
grains (%)
FSW-1mm 5.8 ±3.51 81.4 15.3 3.3
UAFSW-1mm 4.7 ±2.81 76.8 17.3 5.9
FSW-3mm 5.0 ±3.45 81.2 14.2 4.6
UAFSW-3mm 4.1 ±2.76 78.2 14.9 6.9
FSW-5mm 3.5 ±2.03 80.9 9.6 9.5
UAFSW-5mm 3.4 ±2.04 79.8 9.7 10.5
Table 2  Average grain size and the proportion of different types of grains at different depths in the NZ of the joints.
Fig. 14.  (a) Magnified grain boundary map of rectangle in Fig. 13(a) and (b) magnified grain boundary map of rectangle in Fig. 13(b).
Fig. 15.  Grain size distribution of NZ at various depths of the joints: (a) 1 mm from the top surface, (b) 3 mm from the top surface and (c) 5 mm from the top surface.
Fig. 16.  Microhardness profiles along the mid-thickness of the joints for different natural aging times: (a) 120 h, (b) 720 h and (c) 4320 h.
Fig. 17.  Mechanical properties of the BM and the joints at different natural aging times.
Fig. 18.  Tensile fracture locations of the joints after 120 h of PWNA: (a) FSW, (b) UAFSW, (c) side view of FSW and (d) side view of UAFSW.
Fig. 19.  Fracture surfaces of the tensile samples after 120 h of PWNA: (a) top of NZ in FSW, (b) magnified image of rectangle region in (a), (c) HAZ of UAFSW and (d) magnified image of rectangle region in (c).
Fig. 20.  Tensile fracture locations and fracture surfaces of the tensile samples after 720 and 4320 h of PWNA: (a); (c) FSW, (b); (d) UAFSW, (e) fracture surface of FSW after 4320 h of PWNA and (f) fracture surface of UAFSW after 4320 h of PWNA.
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