Application of Laser-Based Additive Manufacturing to Production of Tools for Friction Stir Welding
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This paper presents a feasibility study of application of laser-based additive manufacturing to production of tools for friction-stir welding (FSW) of materials. The design and rapid manufacturing of powerful tools has become one of the major challenges in expanding the application of FSW processes to new materials. The one-step laser cladding process is capable of creating a novel, fully dense and metallurgically bonded near-net-shape tool with microstructural and compositional gradients. In this paper, two kinds of FSW-tool materials are developed and evaluated for the applications of welding different materials. A pure H13 tool steel powder is used to build a FSW-tool for welding the materials with relatively low melting temperatures, such as aluminum alloys. A WC-based ceramet/tool steel functionally graded material (FGM) is synthesized to build a FSW-tool in order to weld the materials with higher melting temperatures and highly abrasive materials such as MMC materials. By controlling the amount of different supplied powders under the optimized laser cladding conditions, WC-based ceramet/tool steel FGMs are successfully synthesized layer by layer. FSW experiments are carried out to evaluate the deposited tools.