AbstractIn Friction Stir Welding (FSW), interactions between the plasticized stirred material and the tool significantly affect resulting weld properties. When welding metals with high strength and melting point, the tribological load on the tool is severe, and poses the main limiting factor for the technology's industrial exploitation. Since tool materials are loaded to their limits, it is essential to understand the interactions of specific tool material and welded metal combinations.
In the present study 3.2 mm alloy 625 sheets were joined using a pcBN tool with W-Re binder phase. Wear lead to a change in tool geometry followed by tool fracture. In SEM investigations the welds revealed typical banded structures, composed of small grains and non-metallic phases containing W from the tool material. The tool surface is extensively covered by adhering sheet metal. Further, BN grain pull-outs and appearances of diffusive wear are visible on the worn tool surface.
Tool wear is mainly caused by detachment of BN grains due to thermal softening of the metallic binder phase and dissolution of BN in the hot material in the stirred zone. Using low rotational speeds resulting in lower process temperatures reduces tool wear and results in a homogeneous stirred zone.