This site gives a brief overview of the ongoing research in our Advanced Materials and Processing Research Group in the ME Department. Involvement with the welding group at the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center has allowed our group to be involved on the implementation of a revolutionary new solid state joining technique into a production environment. Process development of this solid state joining process, which was patented as friction stir welding (FSW) by TWI in 1991, continues to be limited by a trial and error approach with the literature exhibiting little understanding of the mechanisms determining weld structure and properties. Through collaboration with colleagues at the NASA, a kinematic approach in which the FSW flow process is decomposed into several simple flow components has been found to explain the basic structural features of FSW welds and to relate them to tool geometry and process parameters. Through experimentation to validate and verify the modeling approach, a correlation has been developed between the features of the weld nugget, process parameters, weld tool geometry, and weld strength. This correlation presents a way to select process parameters for a given tool geometry so as to optimize weld strength. It also provides clues that may ultimately explain why the weld strength varies within the sample population. The following sections describe the work performed to advance this physics based, predictive model with the invaluable assistance of my colleagues and students.
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