FRICTION STIR WELDING: BUTT & LAP COMPARISON
Friction Stir Welding can be performed in two ways: butt and lap welding. In this article we review these types of FSW welds, digging in depth the differences between both of them. Keep reading and solve all your doubts!
First of all, do you know what butt and lap welding are? If not, don’t worry, and follow the guide !
Within the butt welding category, there 3 ways to place the pieces to be welded during the FSW process : square butt joint, edge butt joint, and T-butt joint.
Square butt joint
Edge butt joint
T butt joint
Cross section of a butt FSW weld
A good example of an application where a butt weld is performed is in the manufacture of heat sinks:
FSW-welded water heat sink for E-mobility
Another example of butt welding can be seen in these two welded rheocasted parts (FSW of more complex components previously not castable):
FSW of two rheocasted parts
Again, there are three positions that can be adopted to carry out lap welding through Friction Stir Welding : lap joint, multiple lap joint & T-lap joint.
Multiple lap joint
T lap joint
Cross section of a lap FSW weld
FSW copper welding on aluminum.
BUTT + LAP WELDING
In addition, there is the possibility of using both types of welding in the same application, as is the case of rigid panel manufacturing.
Discover more applications of FSW technology by clicking here.
The decision to select either butt or lap as the type of welding to be performed depends on the application for which the Friction Stir Welding is meant. However, the choice of the welding type has an impact on 5 points:
• FSW typical defects related to the type of weld
• FSW resistance according to lap/butt weld
• FSW welding speed depending on butt or lap weld
• FSW surface preparation according to the type of welding
• FSW clamping system designed for butt or lap welding
It is important to be aware of these differences in order to select, in the most efficient way, our type of welding. Therefore, we explain each of them point by point below.
Keep reading and don’t miss any details!
FSW TYPICAL DEFECTS RELATED TO THE TYPE OF WELDING
COMMUN FSW DEFECTS TO BUTT AND LAP WELDING
When the process of Friction Stir Welding is carried out, defects can occur. Special attention must be paid to avoid them in order to achieve a high quality of the weld. Some of them can occur independently of the position of the parts when welding, that is, they can occur regardless of whether it is butt or lap welding.
For example, types of defects that can appear regardless of whether it is a butt or lap weld are flash and wormhole (both of which can be seen with the naked eye):
However, there are other types of FSW defects that are specifically associated with butt or lap welding.
FREQUENT FSW DEFECTS IN BUTT WELDING
In the case of a butt weld, we must be very aware of whether the lack of penetration occurs.
When we look at the defect internally, we can see that the parts have not been welded, but simply stuck together. In the following images, we can see the line that separates both parts and shows that they are not welded (since the parts have not been removed creating a single piece):
However, we should not be overly concerned about this defect since it is easily avoidable. Therefore, carrying out butt welding is easier to do than lap welding if we focus on this point.
FREQUENT FSW DEFECTS IN LAP WELDING
On one hand, kissing bond occurs when the interface between the two joining metals is insufficiently heated and stirred, which results in a remnant oxide layer. At the interface, there could be little or no bond, raising the local stress in the weld during mechanical solicitation. In the case of lap welding, the oxide disruption at the sheet interface is more difficult than for butt welding due to the orientation of the joint interface with respect to the FSW tool.
Contrary to lack of penetration, it is more difficult to prevent hooking and kissing-bond defects from occurring. To do this, it is necessary to rely on experts who perform adequate welding parameters and to use the correct FSW tool. But don’t worry, from Stirweld we can help you.
FRICTION STIR WELDING RESISTANCE ACCORDING TO LAPP/BUTT WELD
Hooking defect creates a crack initiation and therefore reduces the fatigue resistance. This defect does not produce a direct breakage of the welded piece but, with time, as the two parts are not completely welded but simply hooked together, both parts could end up separating:
Visualization of the hooking in cross section.
Very bad defect by the forces applied to the upper plate in the direction we see above.
Moving on to talk specifically about kissing-bong defect, as it is a non stiring zone, we reduce the weld section. That is, we reduce the mechanical resistance of the weld due to the fact that the weld is smaller.
These defects (hooking and kissing-bond) are those that directly affect the resistance of the weld, and both can be found in lap welding. Therefore, lap welds generally have a lower resistance than butt welds.
FSW WELDING SPEED
As we have already mentioned, hooking and kissing-bond are due to poor stirring phenomenon. Therefore, to prevent these defects from occurring, we must increase the effect of stirring, which is achieved by reducing the FSW welding speed.
Thus, when comparing butt and lap welds, we must take into account that the lap weld (being the one that has the possibility of creating hooking and kissing-bond) is the one that must be carried out at a lower speed. Specifically, lap welding is usually carried out at a speed of 2.0 meter per minute, while butt welding is performed at a speed of 3.0 meters per minute.
FSW SURFACE PREPARATION
During Friction Stir Welding, we don’t feed material into the weld. Then, FSW can’t support an important gap between the two components that are going to be welded. In the case of butt welding, the maximum allowed gap is 10% of the thickness (up to 10 millimeters). If the gap is higher than this percentage, a hole defect occurs into the weld. This is why before carry out a butt weld, it is important to perform an accurate edge preparation. There are several ways in which this process can be executed: laser cutting, water cutting or machining. However, it cannot be carried out by shearing.
No edge preparation is required for FSW lap welding, as the parts to be welded are placed on top of each other. In addition, no further surface preparation is needed (no degreasing, no brushing).
FRICTION STIR WELDING: CLAMPING SYSTEM
The same principle applies to the clamping system. Since it is not possible to have a gap of more than 10% of the thickness of the parts to be welded when performing a butt weld, it is of vital importance to have a correct clamping system. This must be accurate enough to prevent a larger gap from occurring.
This process is made easier by carrying out a Friction Stir Welding of the lap type. Why? The tool pushes one part over the other one with a force that limits the gap between the components.
In addition, when performing a butt weld, it is imperative that the tool follows the joint pass. The reason for this is that if the FSW tool is away from this joint line, we could have defects such as lack of penetration. It is therefore important that the clamping system ensures that the tool is in the correct position at all times while Friction Stir Welding is performed. However, when carrying out a FSW lap weld it is not necessary to follow any joint line, so the clamping system can be less accurate.
Automatic jig for a butt weld
FSW SEALING QUALITY
Finally, it should be noted that in both cases (butt and lap welding), we get waterproof and airtight welds. Thus, it is not possible to find differences between the two types of FSW welding as far as this characteristic is concerned.
Want to know more about FSW defects ?
Throughout this article we have delved nto the different types of FSW welding: butt and lap. Below you can see a summary infographie that will help you clarify all the information:
If you still have doubts about what type of FSW welding suits your application best, don’t worry: we can help you solve them! At Stirweld we count on a team of qualified professionals who will guide you through your first steps in Friction Stir Welding thanks to our design office.
Do not hesitate to contact us without any commitment.
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