The use of multiple material in the structural components of a vehicle allows for significant weight reduction. Friction element welding (FEW) is a novel method that allows the joining of two or more dissimilar material sheets. A limitation of this process is the chip formation in high strength aluminum alloys, which is observed as the protrusion of thin aluminum segments from under the head of the fastener. Chipping can degrade the joint’s strength over time due to accelerated crevice corrosion.

A novel method is proposed to eliminate chip formation using thermal assistance. A grading scheme is developed to quantify the severity of chip formation. The effect of thermal assistance on chipping is analyzed. An investigation is also carried out to validate that the thermal assistance does not negatively affect the process time, energy, and joint strength. Thermal assistance is proposed to be a novel method of overcoming this limitation to allow more widespread use of the FEW process for higher-strength aluminum alloys. Future work will include the development of feasible, rapid methods of heating and measurement of energy utilization for implementation in the industrial environment.

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