AbstractThe increased use of hybrid structures to reduce weight currently faces the limitations of traditional joining methods. Consequently there is a niche for development of new joining techniques, which can reduce or overcome some of the existing limitations. This paper presents for the first time the new Friction-based Injection Clinching Joining technique (F-ICJ), describing the microstructure and changes in local properties of joints between polyetherimide (PEI) and aluminum alloy 6082-T6. A shear layer around the rotating tool composes a polymer thermomechanically affected zone (PTMAZ), which presents pores as a result of evolution of gaseous products. The PTMAZ shows decreases of 8% to 12% in local strength compared to the base material, as measured by microhardness. Ultimate forces of 1419 ± 43 N in lap shear and 430 ± 44 N in cross tensile were achieved for F-ICJ joints. These levels are similar to ultrasonic staking joints of the same material combination, but the hollow design of F-ICJ stakes accounts for improved strength-to-weight ratio (18% in lap shear, 21% in cross tensile). Although the F-ICJ process currently requires longer cycles (7.5 s) than state-of-the-art ultrasonic staking (2.8–2.9 s), generated results indicate that the F-ICJ process is a competitive staking joining method with potential for improvement.