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Tailor Welded Blanks for Advanced Manufacturing

Tailor Welded Blanks for Advanced Manufacturing

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Tailor Welded Blanks for Advanced Manufacturing

405 pages
Jul 26, 2011


Tailor welded blanks are metallic sheets made from different strengths, materials, and/or thicknesses pre-welded together before forming into the final component geometry. By combining various sheets into a welded blank, engineers are able to ‘tailor’ the blank so that the properties are located precisely where they are needed and cost-effective, low weight components are produced. Tailor welded blanks for advanced manufacturing examines the manufacturing of tailor welded blanks and explores their current and potential future applications.

Part one investigates processing and modelling issues in tailor welded blank manufacturing. Chapters discuss weld integrity, deformation during forming and the analytical and numerical simulation modelling of tailor welded blanks for advanced manufacturing. Part two looks at the current and potential future applications of tailor welded blanks. Chapters review tailor welded blanks of lightweight metals and of advanced high-strength steel and finally discuss the uses of tailor-welded blanks in the automotive and aerospace industries.

With its distinguished editors and international team of expert contributors, Tailor welded blanks for advanced manufacturing proves an invaluable resource for metal fabricators, product designers, welders, welding companies, suppliers of welding machinery and anyone working in industries that use advanced materials such as in automotive and aerospace engineering. Engineers and academics involved in manufacturing and metallurgy may also find this book a useful reference.
  • Examines the manufacturing of tailor welded blanks and explores their current and potential future applications
  • Investigates processing and quality issues in tailor welded blank manufacturing including weld integrity and deformation
  • Reviews both current and potential future applications of tailor welded blanks as well as specific applications in the automotive and aerospace industries
Jul 26, 2011

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Tailor Welded Blanks for Advanced Manufacturing - Elsevier Science



In several industries (e.g. the automotive and aerospace industries), the need for lightweight and cost-effective products with exceptional performance is essential for success. Tailor welded blanks (TWBs) offer an excellent means to meet these competing and seemingly contradictory demands. Thirty years after this technology was introduced, and with the increasing concerns in energy conservation and environmental protection, now is a perfect time to publish this book to summarize the current knowledge and state-of-the art in forming TWBs. The goal is to promote sustained TWB applications for new materials, new processes and new concepts in design for manufacturing.

To create the structural and skin components for vehicles, sheet metal is used due to the superior strength-to-weight ratio compared with bulk material products. Traditionally, to create a sheet metal assembly with various components, individual sheet metal parts are formed and then subsequently welded (e.g. spot welded) together. Alternatively, in TWBs, multiple sheet metals are seam welded (or bonded) together prior to the deformation process, thus requiring only one forming operation. The multiple sheets could be of various material alloys, thicknesses and/or surface treatments (e.g. galvanized versus non-galvanized) in order to ‘tailor’ the location of specific material properties into the final part. This technology offers numerous advantages over the traditional multiple forming and subsequent spot welding method including reduced cost, component mass and vibrations/noise in the assembly as well as improved material utilization, structural integrity, corrosion resistance and dimensional accuracy. However, formability concerns (e.g. reduced strain at failure and weld line movement) are created due to the dissimilar mechanical properties of the weld seam material and heat-affected zone and the various sheet metal strengths in the TWB combination. The benefits, though, are so desirable that means to fabricate TWBs are of significant interest to multiple industries despite the formability concerns.

In this book, various aspects of TWB forming, analysis, production and application are presented. To facilitate the presentation of information, the book is split into two parts: Part I, ‘Processing and modeling’ and Part II, ‘Applications’. In Chapter 1, weld integrity concerns are described, test methods (both destructive and non-destructive) are presented and prevention and monitoring strategies for weld defects are highlighted. The resulting forming conditions for TWBs are discussed in Chapter 2 with specific details on the effect of weld orientation, properties, etc. In addition, design considerations to address forming concerns are provided. In Chapter 3, mechanics-based modeling of TWB forming is discussed with respect to the allowable thickness/strength ratio of TWB components; the determination of the weld line movement and forming height during the process; and the desired non-uniform binder force ratio to fabricate a TWB component successfully. Then, in Chapter 4 (which concludes Part I), numerical simulation strategies are presented. In particular, methods to address modeling of the weld line in the finite element analyses and the design of the die set and the TWB are discussed. The remaining chapters are in Part II of the book. These include Chapters 5 and 6 on lightweight metal alloy TWBs and advanced high-strength steel TWBs respectively, as well as information in both chapters on dissimilar metal TWBs. In each of these chapters, information related to specific material TWBs, formability, defects, welding methods, etc., are presented. Finally, Chapters 7 and 8 discuss TWBs for the automotive and aerospace industries respectively. While similar challenges exist for the diverse applications, unique means to address these are highlighted. Our hope is that this book will provide knowledge and assistance for the implementation of TWBs for various applications.

We would like to thank our colleagues who have contributed their expertise and knowledge for the creation of book chapters. In addition, Ming Shi from US Steel and Rick Vanker from The TWB Company contributed tremendous insights into the content of the book. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the publishing team for their tireless efforts to assure the success of this text.

Brad L. Kinsey,     Durham, NH, USA

Xin Wu,     Detroit, MI, USA

Part I

Processing and modeling


Weld integrity of tailor welded blanks

M.M. Li,     TWB Company, USA


The quality of a laser weld is sensitive to its geometrical integrity because of the small fusion zone, especially for those tailor welded blanks (TWBs) that are subject to post-weld forming. Most weld imperfections can be visualized from their appearance; however, not all of them are visible from the surface, such as porosity. Understanding the causes of weld imperfections helps the prevention of their creation. Nonetheless, knowing the characteristics of weld imperfections and their impact on the end application of the product allows the decision to be made regarding which weld imperfections are to be controlled or not. Proper weld monitoring systems and quality processes can be developed to control the quality of TWBs once the above factors, critical imperfections and their causes, are identified.

Key words

weld defect

laser welding

laser processing



lack of penetration

lack of fusion




sporadic weld

laser triangulation

machine vision camera

camera vision



eddy current

flux leakage


1.1 Introduction

Tungsten inert gas (TIG), metal inert gas (MIG), electron beam and laser welding processes have been used for creating tailor welded blanks TWBs. However, due to the small heat-affected zone (HAZ) and fusion zone, the laser and electron beam welding processes produce less impact on the material properties than others. Laser welding has been the most frequently used process for producing TWBs due to the lower cost and greater flexibility compared to those of electron beam welding. For this reason, laser welding will be the focus of the material in this chapter.

Most weld imperfections are related to the weld geometry or chemical contents of the base materials. Improper fit-up between the two joining metal sheets is a major cause of imperfections related to weld geometry, such as concavity, mismatch and sporadic welds (i.e. a weld that does not have consistent weld geometry and is mostly a mixture of good weld and bad weld in short sections). Impurities or gaseous elements, such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen, embedded in the material or introduced to the weld during the welding process can also create imperfections in the weld, such as porosity, pinholes or craters. The acceptance of a weld imperfection is normally determined by the application of the welded product. A pinhole or crater can be a defect for one product that undergoes a post-weld deep forming process and an accepted weld imperfection if no forming is required. Examples used in this chapter are based on a typical TWB joining two blanks of 1 mm and 2 mm in thickness.

Tests and measurement of weld integrity are divided into two categories, destructive and non-destructive. The most common destructive tests on TWBs are cross-sectioning, micro-hardness test, tensile test, bend test and formability test. These tests are used to understand the mechanical and metallurgical properties as well as the geometrical integrity of the weld. Destructive tests are normally time consuming. In some cases, fatigue tests are performed on welded parts that are subject to applications under cyclic loading. Non-destructive testing is desired for production part inspection, especially in mass production. Most non-destructive testing systems are designed to determine the geometrical integrity of the weld in the fusion zone. These systems are normally vision, ultrasound or electromagnetic based. When a non-destructive testing system is able to perform the inspection faster than the welding speed, such a system can then be used for real-time weld quality monitoring.

1.2 Typical weld imperfections

The most common imperfections seen in TWBs are discussed in this section. When the size of these imperfections becomes significant they are considered as defects for a part that requires a subsequent forming process performed on or around the weld seam. Splits inside or adjacent to the fusion zone can be found after the forming process if the weld imperfection is larger than the critical dimension. It is crucial to identify the imperfections of interest so that efforts can be focused on finding proper solutions to reducing and monitoring these imperfections. The critical dimension of imperfections is normally determined by the material grades and thickness. For example, for a low carbon steel weld with a gauge combination of 1 mm and 2 mm in its base materials, an imperfection with 0.5 mm in its largest linear dimension can be a defect if a post-weld forming process is required. The geometry of the imperfection is also an important factor in determining the critical dimension. Figure 1.1 shows a typical good weld cross-section with the thick gauge material on the left side and thin gauge material on the right side.

Figure 1.1 The cross-section of a typical good weld.

1.2.1 Pinhole and crater

A pinhole is formed during the welding process when part of the molten material is ejected away from the weld pool due to a burst of excess pressure in the keyhole or molten pool. When the laser beam hits a cluster of low temperature elements embedded in the base material or weld seam, due to the sudden increase of the pressure contributed by quick vaporization of the low temperature material, part of the molten material can be ejected away from the weld pool and forms a temporary cavity in the molten pool. A pinhole or crater is formed as a consequence of insufficient molten material filling into the cavity during the solidification process. The typical size of a pinhole is around 1.0 mm, while most pinholes have their largest dimension ranges from 0.5 mm to 2.0 mm. A crater is sometimes referred to as a partial pinhole or a blind pinhole. Additive materials such as aluminum, magnesium and zinc, which are popularly used in steel processing with vaporization temperatures far lower than that of steel, have a potential to vaporize rapidly and create a burst of pressure in the keyhole of a laser weld and result in a pinhole or crater, which is a partial pinhole. Figure 1.2 shows the top view of a pinhole. While breaking the pinhole along the welding direction, a cross-sectional view of the pinhole is illustrated in Fig. 1.3.

Figure 1.2 A pinhole located in a laser weld, tip view.

Figure 1.3 Cross-section of a pinhole (Fig. 1.2) along the welding direction.

Frequent cleaning of the welding equipment, especially the contact areas and the vicinity of the welding spot where fume and welding slag accumulate, may reduce the formation of pinholes. In addition, controlling incoming material to avoid unexpected inclusions and maintain weld edge cleanness also helps the reduction of pinhole formation. Most pinholes have round edges and a smooth inside surface. In some cases a small pinhole opens up as a larger hole after the forming process, though in many cases the existence of pinholes does not cause splitting in a forming process. A weld split is expected when the size of a pinhole is significant or deep and the forming strain is high.

1.2.2 No-weld

‘No-weld’ happens when the laser beam energy applied to the material is not high enough to create fusion for a short segment or the entire length of the weld seam. No-weld is normally considered as a weld defect due to the significant reduction of the weld strength. When a short segment of no-weld is formed in a weld seam, the ends of the no-weld serve as sharp cracks during subsequent forming processes and result in a split in the weld. Losing laser power during welding can directly result in no-weld. A laser with stable output power is able to prevent this from happening. Another possible cause of no-weld is that the plasma plume, created by the welding process, is thick and thus blocks the majority of the laser energy. When no-weld happens, no new plasma plume forms; therefore, the laser beam becomes un-blocked. As a result, this type of plasma plume-induced no-weld normally shows in a short segment of several millimeters. Applying proper assisting gas to keep the plasma plume away from the laser beam path is the key to the prevention of plasma plume induced no-welds.

In some cases, a thick contamination layer on the surface of the weld seam, such as weld debris, machine oil falling off from the equipment or foreign material carried by the incoming material, can momentarily reduce the total laser energy hitting the weld seam and result in no-weld. Frequent equipment cleaning and incoming material quality control play important roles in preventing this type of no-weld from happening.

1.2.2 Lack of fusion

Lack of fusion (LOF) refers to a misaligned fusion zone caused by favoring the laser beam more on one side of the base metal sheets. As a result, the weld seam, regardless of having full penetration or not, is not completely joined together. In most cases, the top of the weld shows complete fusion across the weld seam but the root of the weld does not; see Fig. 1.4(a). For an extreme case, the top and root sides of the seam are fully welded with a small portion of seam in the middle not fused. This type of defect is not visible from the surfaces and can only be visualized by cross-sectioning the weld at the LOF (see zone, Fig. 1.4(b)) or by a non-destructive physical technique.

Figure 1.4 Lack of fusion: (a) visible from the root of the weld, (b) not visible from the surface of the weld.

1.2.4 Lack of penetration

Similar to no-weld, lack of penetration (LOP) is caused by insufficient laser energy applied to the material. The difference between no-weld and LOP is that no-weld has no fusion created during the process and LOP is the result of partial material fusion. A no-weld can be inspected from both sides of the weld and a LOP can only be recognized from the opposite side of the weld where no fusion is found. LOP reduces the formability of the weld significantly and is normally considered as a defect for a weld where forming is one of its subsequent processes. The formation of LOP is related to insufficient heat applied to the material and, thus, full penetration is not achieved. An unstable laser power source is one of the possible causes. In addition, excess amounts of media, such as plasma plume, oil or water contamination, that can block or resist laser light from reaching the material can also reduce the overall energy applied to the material. Normally, porosity is also present when water causes the LOP. Applying proper cross-jet gas, such as inert gas, carbon dioxide or nitrogen, to blow away the plasma plume can prevent the plasma plume from blocking the laser beam. The impact of the plasma plume on the penetration of the laser beam is associated with the wavelength of the laser and the composition of the plasma plume. Figure 1.5 demonstrates lack of penetration on the lower half of the weld with a small gap between both sides of the base material. In some cases, the gap may not exist and a fine seam line will be present where lack of penetration occurs, instead of an open gap as shown in this

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