Laser Weldability of High-Strength Al-Zn Alloys and Its Improvement by the Use of an Appropriate Filler Material


Heat-treatable Al-Zn alloys are promising candidates for use as structural lightweight materials in automotive and aircraft applications. This is mainly due to their high strength-to-density ratio in comparison to conventionally employed Al alloys. Laser beam welding is an efficient method for producing joints with high weld quality and has been established in the industry for many years. However, it is well known that aluminum alloys with a high Zn content or, more precisely, with a high (Zn + Mg + Cu) content are difficult to fusion weld due to the formation of porosity and hot cracks. The present study concerns the laser weldability of these hard-to-weld Al-Zn alloys. In order to improve weldability, it was first necessary to understand the reasons for weldability problems and to identify crucial influencing factors. Based on this knowledge, it was finally possible to develop an appropriate approach. For this purpose, vanadium was selected as additional filler material. Vanadium exhibits favorable thermophysical properties and, thereby, can improve the weldability of Al-Zn alloys. The effectiveness of the approach was verified by its application to several Al-Zn alloys with differing amounts of (Zn + Mg + Cu).
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