Numerical simulation of the structural response of friction stir welded aluminium 2139-T8 alloy subjected to complex loading configurations

  • Awang Jefri Awang Draup

Student thesis: Phd


Friction stir welding (FSW) and aluminium alloy 2139-T8 are currently being considered for use in future military vehicles. However, stringent regulations on weld integrity under extreme loading conditions limit the adoption of new technologies. Moreover, current finite element (FE) based methods do not give reliable predictions of strain distribution in welds, which makes it difficult to assess the performance of structures. Therefore, an extensive research program was carried out to develop a generalised finite element (FE) based methodology to predict the response of welded structures under complex loading configurations. The methodology enables the complex distribution of mechanical properties arising from welding, which is linked to microstructural variation, to be incorporated into a macro scale structural model. The method is general, and is applicable for any heat treatable aluminium alloy under a range of joining processes. To achieve this, the microstructure of 2139-T8 alloy was characterised at a range of length scales, with particular emphasis on the size and distribution of strengthening Omega precipitates. 2139-T8 was subjected to bead on plate FSW to enable characterisation of the effects of processing on the local microstructure. In addition, kinetic data for 2139-T8 was generated, allowing a simple softening model to be developed; this allowed the post-weld strength distribution to be predicted. The model was also used to recreate bulk specimens of 2139-T8 with equivalent local weld microstructure, which was verified by transmission electron microscopy. Material with equivalent microstructure was used to estimate the local mechanical property distributions across the weld, including the initial yield stress and plastic response; the mechanical properties of 2139-T8 are known to be representative of 2139-T84. From observations of this combined data, a methodology was developed to enable the estimation of the complex mechanical property distributions arising during welding. Furthermore, an automated computer program was written to implement the property distributions into FE based models. The methodology was verified using data generated for 2139-T8 and was used to simulate the response of FSW 2139-T8 loaded in uniaxial tension. The simulations were verified experimentally using digital image correlation (DIC) and the methodology was shown to demonstrate increased accuracy and reliability over existing FE methods, with respect to strain predictions. In addition, the method eliminates the need to calibrate the structural model to a particular loading configuration. Theoretically, the models are insensitive to loading and this property was tested by extending the model to simulate the strain distribution of large scale welded panels subject to explosive blast loading. The simulations were verified against blast tests where FSW 2139-T84 panels were subjected to blast loading from the detonation of plastic explosive. The results indicate that the modelling methodology developed is capable of producing accurate and reliable predictions of strain distribution in welded structures under complex loading configurations.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJoseph Robson (Supervisor) & Philip Prangnell (Supervisor)


  • Metallurgy
  • High Strain Rate
  • Modelling
  • Blast
  • Finite Element
  • Friction Stir Welding
  • Aluminium

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