Thermo-mechanical and metallurgical aspects in friction stir processing of AZ31 Mg alloy-A numerical and experimental investigation
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Friction stir processing of AZ31 Mg alloy was investigated by numerical modeling and experiments. A CFD based, fully coupled, 3D, thermo-mechanical model was built to better understand the effect of process parameters on temperature, material flow and strain rate. In order to account for material softening phenomena at elevated temperatures and extremely high strain rates that occur during the FSP process, experimentally measured peak temperatures were utilized to introduce a correction function in the flow stress constitutive relation. The numerical results showed that rotational speed as compared to translational speed had a more dominant effect on temperature field and strain rate. In addition, the asymmetric material flow around the tool axis caused higher peak temperature and strain rate on the advancing side (AS), while the material in the path of tool pin was swept around the retreating side (RS). FSP experiments confirmed peak temperatures measured at sheet surface near shoulder perimeter on AS were always higher than corresponding RS peak temperatures, under the selected range of process parameters. In addition to thermo-mechanical aspects, the metallurgical characteristics of FSP i.e. mainly the grain size evolution was studied by optical and electron microscopy. Experiments revealed that the coarse bimodal microstructure of as-received AZ31 Mg was subdivided into a defect-free, fine grain microstructure at the rotational speed of 1000 rpm, while a defect-free but a relatively coarse and bimodal microstructure evolved in the material at rotational speeds higher than 1000 rpm. Furthermore, in the selected range of process parameters the increases in translational speed resulted in finer grain sizes without the formation of voids or defects. 2012 Elsevier B.V.