Aluminum alloys have been increasingly adopted in the fabrication of automotive body structures as an integral component of mass savings strategy. However, mixed use of dissimilar aluminum alloys, such as sheet metals, castings, and extrusions, poses significant challenges to the existing joining technologies, especially in regard to single-sided joint access. To address this issue, the current study applied the friction stir blind riveting (FSBR) process to join 1.2 mm-thick AA6022-T4 aluminum alloy to 3 mm-thick Aural-2 cast aluminum. A newly developed, robot mounted, servo-driven, FSBR equipment and the procedure using it to make FSBR joints were introduced systematically. The effect of rivet feed rate and spindle speed on joint formation and cross section geometry was investigated, and it was found that a high spindle speed and a low rivet feed rate, i.e., high heat input, are prone to produce good joints, and that low heat input can cause severe problems related to insufficient softening of the sheets. The rivet deformation, especially the notch location on the mandrel relative to the shank has significant influence on lap-shear strength and fracture mode of the final joints. A rivet pull-out fracture mode was observed at higher rivet feed rates and lower spindle speeds and exhibited significantly improved energy absorption capability, i.e., 62% higher compared to traditional blind riveted (BR) joints.

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