Controlling Interfacial Reaction in Aluminium to Steel Dissimilar Metal Welding

  • Lei Xu

Student thesis: Phd


Two different aluminium alloys, AA6111 (Al-Mg-Si) and AA7055 (Al-Mg-Zn), were chosen as the aluminium alloys to be welded with DC04, and two welding methods (USW and FSSW) were selected to prepare the welds. Selected pre-welded joints were then annealed at T=400 - 570oC for different times. Kinetics growth data was collected from the microstructure results, and the growth behaviour of the IMC layer was found to fit the parabolic growth law. A grain growth model was built to predict the grain size as a function of annealing time. A double-IMC phase diffusion model was applied, together with grain growth model, to predict the thickness of each phase as a function of annealing time in the diffusion process during heat treatment. In both material combinations and with both welding processes a similar sequence of IMC phase formation was observed during the solid state welding. η-Fe2Al5 was found to be the first IMC phase to nucleate. The IMC islands then spread to form a continuous layer in both material combinations. With longer welding times a second IMC phase, θ-FeAl3, was seen to develop on the aluminium side of the joints. Higher fracture energy was received in the DC04-AA6111 joints than in the DC04-AA7055 joints. Two reasons were claimed according to the microstructure in the two joints. The thicker IMC layers were observed in the DC04-AA7055 joints either before or after heat treatment, due to the faster growth rate of the θ phase. In addition, pores were left in the aluminium side near the interface as a result of the low melting point of AA7055.The modelling results for both the diffusion model and grain growth model fitted very well with the data from the static heat treatment. Grain growth occurred in both phases in the heat treatment significantly, and was found to affect the calculated activation energy by the grain boundary diffusion. At lower temperatures in the phases with a smaller grain size, the grain boundary diffusion had a more significant influence on the growth rate of the IMC phases. The activation energies for the grain boundary diffusion and lattice diffusion were calculated as 240 kJ/mol and 120 kJ/mol for the η phase, and 220 kJ/mol and 110 kJ/mol for the θ phase, respectively.The model was invalid for the growth of the discontinuous IMC layers in USW process. The diffusion model only worked for 1-Dimensional growth of a continuous layer, which was the growth behaviour of the IMC layer during heat treatment. However, due to the highly transient conditions in USW process, the IMC phases were not continuous and uniform even after a welding time of 2 seconds. Therefore, the growth of the island shaped IMC particles in USW was difficult to be predicted, unless the nucleation stage was taken into consideration.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Prangnell (Supervisor) & Joseph Robson (Supervisor)


  • grain boundary diffusion
  • growth kinetics
  • Fe-Al binary system
  • ultrasonic spot welding
  • Intermetallic compounds

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