This article summarizes a paper entitled, “Process, Microstructure and Fracture Mode of Thick Stack-Ups of Aluminum Alloy to AHSS Dissimilar Metal Spot Joints”, by Luke Walker, Colleen Hilla, Menachem Kimchi, and Wei Zhang, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University.W-9
Researchers at The Ohio State University studied the effects of adding a stainless steel (SS) insert to a dissimilar Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) to aluminum (Al) resistance spot weld (RSW). The SS insert was ultrasonically welded to the Al sheet prior to the RSW being performed. The purpose of the SS is to reduce the intermetallic layer that forms when welding steel to aluminum. This process increases the strength and toughness of the weld. In this study, the process is applied to three sheet (3T) stack up that contains one Al sheet and two 1.2 mm thick Press Hardened (PH) 1500 sheets. The joint strength is measured in lap shear testing and the intermetallic thickness/ morphology is studied after cross sectioning the welds.
During the microstructure evaluation it was noted that Al 6022 contained a larger nugget diameter as compared to the Al 5052 welds. A few potential reasons for the hotter welds were proposed including cleanliness of the electrodes, surface oxides, and thickness of the different alloys. The welds on the Al 5052 stack ups were made first on clean electrodes whereas the Al 6022 was made on potentially dirty electrodes that increased the contact resistance. The effects of different surface oxides are not likely given the SS sheet is ultrasonically welded but could still add to the higher heat input in the RSW. The Al 6022 is 0.2 mm thicker, which could increase the bulk resistance and decrease the cooling effect from the electrodes.
The 3T welds likely had much lower strength and toughness due to cracks that formed at the Al-SS insert interface. These can be attributed to an increase in intermetallic compound (IMC) thickness and the residual stress caused by the forge force. The IMC thickness was measured two ways: The first measurement was of the continuous IMC layer and the second was from the Al-Fe interface to the end of the IMC dendrites (Figure 1, 2 and Table 1). The Al 5052 observed the thickest continuous IMC layer but Al 6022 was close to the Al 5052 thickness. This can be attributed to the increased Si content of Al 6022 which has been shown to decrease the growth of Fe-Al intermetallics.
Referencing Figure 3, the 2T stack-up has a higher tensile strength as well as significantly higher fracture energy absorbed compared to the 3T stack-ups. This is mainly attributed to the failure mode observed in the different stack-ups. The 2T welds had button pullout failure while 3T stack-ups had interfacial Failure.
The Al 6022 contains higher Si content which likely decreased the growth of the continuous IMC layer but not the overall IMC layer (as seen in Figure 4 and Figure 5) due to higher weld temperatures. The joint strength of the welds in the 3T stack-ups were closer to the expected weld strength unless there was expulsion that caused a 5-kN drop in strength.