Friction stir forming (FSF) is a new environmentally friendly manufacturing process for lap joining of dissimilar materials. Fundamentally, this process is based on frictionally heating and mechanically stirring work material of the top piece in a plasticized state to form a mechanical interlocking joint within the bottom material. In this research, the significant process parameters were identified and optimized for Al 6014 alloy and mild steel using a design of experiments (DOE) methodology. The overall joint structure and grain microstructure were mapped as the FSF process progressed and the aluminum work material deformed through different stages. It was found that the work material within the joint exhibited two layers, thermomechanical affected zone, which formed due to the contact pressure and angular momentum of the tool, and heat affected formation zone, which was composed of work material formed through the hole in the steel sheet and into the anvil cavity. Two different geometries of anvil design were employed to investigate geometrical effects during FSF of the aluminum. It was found that the direction and amount of work material deformation under the tool varies from the center to the shoulder.

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