Microstructural Evolution in Friction Stir Welding of Ti-5111

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Titanium and titanium alloys have shown excellent mechanical, physical, and corrosion properties. To address the needs of future naval combatants, this research examines an alternative joining technology, friction stir welding (FSW). Friction stir welding uses a non-consumable tool to generate frictional heat to plastically deform and mix metal to form a consolidated joint. This work focuses on FSW of Ti-5111 (Ti-5Al-1Sn-1Zr-1V-0.8Mo), a near alpha alloy. This study aims to gain a fundamental understanding of the relationship between processing parameters, microstructure, and mechanical properties of experimental 12.7mm and 6.35mm Ti-5111 friction stir welds.

The resulting weld microstructure shows significant grain refinement within the weld compared to the base metal. The weld microstructures show a fully lamellar colony structure with peak welding temperatures exceeding beta transformation temperature. The friction stir weld shows material texture strengthening of the BCC F fiber component before transformation to D2 shear texture in the stir zone. Transmission electron microscopy results of the base metal and the stir zone show a lath colony-type structure with low dislocation density and no lath grain substructure. In situ TEM heating experiments of Ti-5111 friction stir welded material show transformation to the high temperature beta phase at significantly lower temperatures compared to the base metal.

Thermal and deformation mechanisms within Ti-5111 were examined through the use of thermomechanical simulation. Isothermal constant strain rate tests show evidence of dynamic recrystallization and deformation above beta transus when compared with the FSW thermal profile without deformation. Subtransus deformation shows kinking and bending of the existing colony structure without recrystallization. Applying the friction stir thermal profile to constant strain rate deformation successfully reproduced the friction stir microstructure at a peak temperature of 1000ºC and a strain rate of 10/s. These results provide unique insight into the strain, strain rates, and temperatures regime within the process.

Finally, the experimental thermal and deformation fields were compared using ISAIAH, a Eulerian based three-dimensional model of friction stir welding. These results are preliminary but show promise for the ability of the model to compute thermal fields for material flow, model damage prediction, and decouple texture evolution for specific thermomechanical histories in the friction stir process.