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Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325

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Journal of Manufacturing Processes

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/manpro

Influence of processing parameters and initial temper on Friction Stir

Extrusion of 2050 aluminum alloy
Dario Baffari a,∗ , Anthony P. Reynolds b , Xiao Li b , Livan Fratini a
Department of Industrial and Digital Innovation (DIID), University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, 90128 Palermo, Italy
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of South Carolina, 300 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Friction Stir Extrusion is an innovative production technology that enables direct wire production via
Received 25 May 2017 consolidation and extrusion of metal chips or solid billets. During the process, a rotating die is plunged
Received in revised form 19 June 2017 into a cylindrical chamber containing the material to be extruded. The stirring action of the tool produces
Accepted 22 June 2017
plastic flow in the extrusion chamber, densifying and heating the charge so that finally, fully dense rods
are extruded. Experiments have been carried out in order to investigate the influence of process param-
eters and initial temper of the base material on the process variables and on the extrudates’ mechanical
Friction Stir Extrusion
Recycling © 2017 The Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Aluminum alloys

1. Introduction tal assessment of solid state recycling, focusing on the reduction of

material losses, while Canter [5] discussed the significant energy
Friction Stir Extrusion (FSE) is an innovative solid state tech- savings in comparison with melting technologies. In this scenario,
nology that allows the production of wires and rods from metal FSE showed notable capabilities for both magnesium [6] and alu-
chips or solid billet. During the process, a rotating die is plunged minum alloys [7], being considered competitive even with respect
into a hollow chamber containing a billet of the material to be to other direct recycling techniques. Additionally, this technology
extruded. The work of the friction forces between the die and the has interesting potential for direct primary wire production from
billet decaying into heat causes the metal to soften, producing a solid metal; the relative simplicity of the process itself allows it to
plastic flow through the extrusion channel on the rotation axis of be used for the production of small lots of wire, easily adjusting
the die itself. FSE was developed in 1993 by The Welding Institute in the material composition and even setting up in-house produc-
Cambridge, UK and underwent very little evolution until the patent tion facilities. These characteristics are particularly interesting for
was allowed to lapse in 2002. Since then, many researchers have the production of base material for Wire Arc Additive Manufactur-
focused their attention on the process potential in recycling metal ing (WAAM), a rising additive technology that allows faster and
chips resulting from machining operations. In fact, this particular more flexible production [8] with relatively limited hardware [9]
kind of scrap results one of the most challenging to be recycled and material costs in comparison with other AM process. The wires
using melting technology. The recycling by melting of lightweight to be fed to WAAM machines clearly require precise compositions
alloys has been deeply investigated with regards to both conven- and geometry. Wide ranges of welding wire are not always avail-
tional [1] and innovative [2] processes, showing how the scrap able in the market, and FSE could be an optimal solution that would
type, size distribution and presence of contaminants can deeply not depend on conventional wire production systems for small lots
affect the overall process efficiency. In order to further optimize of experimental feedstocks. However, the overall real potentials
the recycling, the so-called direct conversion method [3] was intro- and this particular aspect of the process have been scarcely investi-
duced, allowing to overcome many of the above-cited issues while gated. Very few papers can be found in literature, mostly regarding
effectively reducing the environmental impact of the recovering FEM simulation of the process. Behnagh et al. [10] proposed an ALE
process. In particular, Duflu et al. [4] dealt with the environmen- thermo-mechanical simulation to predict Dynamic Recrystalliza-
tion (DRX) during the extrusion while Zhang et al. developed 3D
CFD [11] and 2D axial symmetrical thermal [12] numerical models
for prediction of velocity fields and thermal distribution respec-
∗ Corresponding author.
tively. As previously highlighted, some of the authors of this paper
E-mail address: dario.baffari@unipa.it (D. Baffari).

1526-6125/© 2017 The Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
320 D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325

Table 1
Chemical composition and mechanical properties of AA2050.

Heat Treatment UTS [MPa] YS [MPa] Elongation HV

Cast 360 190 28% 95

O 250 130 21% 70
T3 480 335 18% 130
T8 550 525 12% 180

Chemical composition% w/w

Fe Si Cu Mn Mg Zn Li Ag

0.1 0.08 3.2–3.9 0.2–0.5 0.2–0.6 0.25 0.7–1.3 0.2–0.7

have previously applied the FSE process on AA2050 metal chips

with fixed extrusion force and with varying die rotational speed,
obtaining solid wires characterized by fine, equiaxed grains and
correlating extrusion rate to power and rotational speed. In this
paper, an experimental campaign on AA2050 aluminum alloys wire
production through FSE from solid billet is described.

2. Materials and methods

AA2050 aluminum alloy plate and ingot were used as starting Fig. 1. Sketch of the FSE setup.

material for FSE. This particular aluminum alloy has been relatively
recently developed, offering low density, high corrosion resistance, the inner surface and with 1 mm spacing starting from the top of
high damage tolerance and good strength relative to other 2xxx and the billet housed inside. The chamber is clamped to a stainless steel
7xxx alloys [13]. As cast material and three different heat-treated backing plate and a small pin is placed on it to prevent billet rota-
conditions of wrought plate, O, T3, and T8, characterized by a wide tion. The extrusion process was executed on a Friction Stir Welding
range of mechanical properties were selected for extrusion starting machine operated in Z-axis force control mode (MTS Process Devel-
stock, (See Table 1). Extrusion billets were cut out of these starting opment System), allowing to impose a constant extrusion pressure
materials using waterjet and subsequent turning in order to fit into while extrusion rate varies according to process conditions. Dur-
the extrusion chamber. ing the extrusion, the rotational speed, die vertical movement
Fig. 1 shows the sketch of the adopted FSE setup. A dedicated and extrusion force were recorded by the MTS controller with a
tooling set was manufactured from H13 steel in order to execute sampling rate of 10 Hz, while torque and power were recorded
the process (Fig. 2). The rotating die has an external diameter of by a torque transducer mounted on the MTS spindle with 50 Hz
38.1 mm and central through extrusion channel of 4 mm in diame- sampling rate. Temperature data were acquired using K-type ther-
ter and 1 mm of height before widening to 8 mm in diameter. The mocouples embedded into the matrix and the die and recorded
die shoulder presents a twin clockwise scroll of 8.9 mm (Fig. 2a) with dedicated National Instrument board and Bluetooth trans-
pitch and a second through hole 8 mm far from the extrusion chan- ducer respectively, with a sampling rate of 8 Hz.
nel in order to house a thermocouple for temperature acquisition. Extrusions were carried out with varying rotational speed
The die was rotated in counter-clockwise direction in order to (100 rpm, 200 rpm, and 300 rpm) and extrusion force (26.7 kN,
enhance material flow toward the central extrusion hole while the 35.6 kN, 44.5 kN, and 53.4 kN). Each experiment was stopped when
small thermocouple hole was quickly covered and obstructed by the length of extruded wire reached about 300 mm (the entire avail-
plasticized metal creating excellent contact between the charge able space to house the extrudate inside the chuck).
and the sensor. The chamber (Fig. 2b) has an inner diameter of A complete series of extrusion experiments was carried out
39.1 mm and presents four embedded thermocouples, 0.5 mm from only for the T3 heat treatment, while selected case studies were

Table 2
Process parameter.

Experiment # Material Extrusion Force [kN] Die rotational speed [rpm] Extrudate Status

1 2050-T3 53.4 100 Torque limit reached

2 2050-T3 48.9 100 Sound
3 2050-T3 53.4 200 Hot cracks
4 2050-T3 44.5 100 Sound
5 2050-T3 44.5 200 Hot cracks
6 2050-T3 44.5 300 Hot cracks
7 2050-T3 35.6 100 Sound
8 2050-T3 35.6 200 Sound
9 2050-T3 35.6 300 Hot cracks
10 2050-T3 26.7 100 Sound
11 2050-T3 26.7 200 Sound
12 2050-T3 26.7 300 Sound
13 2050-T8 26.7 100 Sound
14 2050-T8 44.5 100 Sound
15 2050-O 26.7 100 Sound
16 2050-O 44.5 100 Sound
17 2050 Cast 26.7 100 Sound
18 2050 Cast 44.5 100 Sound
D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325 321

Fig. 2. (a) Die scrolled shoulder, (b) Chamber and (c) assembly of the FSE setup.

Fig. 3. (a) Tensile specimen geometry, (b) DIC setup, (c) Speckle pattern on a tensile specimen, and (d) DIC displacement contour plot with virtual extensometer.

Fig. 4. (a) Matrix of experiments for AA2050-T3, AA2050-T3 44.5 kN (b) 300 rpm, (c) 200 rpm, and (d) 100 rpm.
322 D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325

Fig. 5. Longitudinal view and cross section for (a) AA2050-T3/53.4 kN/200 rpm, (b) AA2050-T3/35.6 kN/100 rpm, and (c) longitudinal section for AA2050-T3/35.6 kN/100 rpm
case studies.

Fig. 6. (a) Vickers microhardness and grain size measurements along the cross section (b) of the 48.9 kN, 100 rpm case study.

repeated with the other heat treatments and the cast material to cross-section of the samples. Some of the extrudates underwent a
compare material behavior. All the analyzed process conditions post extrusion heat treatment for approximately 13 h at 190 ◦ C in
are summarized in Table 2. Specimens were extracted from each order to investigate the response to aging.
extrudate in order to assess material condition through mechani-
cal and microstructural characteristics. Tensile tests were carried 3. Results
out according to ASTM E8M standards (see Fig. 3a) and Digital
Image Correlation (DIC, see Fig. 3b–d) software by Correlated Solu- Observing the external surface of the extrudates it is possible
tion was used in order to track the specimens’ deformation during to make a preliminary assessment of the product quality: higher
the tests using the virtual extensometer function. Cross and lon- values of force and rotational speed clearly lead to excessive heat
gitudinal sections of the extrudates were cold mounted, polished input, causing extensive crack formation (Fig. 4b–c). It was not
and etched with Keller’s reagent (190 ml H2O, 5 ml HNO3, 3 ml HCL possible to analyze the 53.4 kN/100 rpm case study due to exces-
and 2 ml HF) for 15 s in order to highlight grain structures. Vickers sive torque that overcame machine limits, requiring a decrease in
microhardness testing was carried out along the diameters of the the maximum extrusion force used to 48.9 kN for the 100 rpm case
D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325 323

Table 3
Average hardness for different base materials and post-process conditions.

Material Process parameters Post Extrusion treatment Average hardness

2050-T3 Base material – 130 HV

2050-T8 Base material – 180 HV
2050-T3 44.5 kN/100 rpm None 80 HV
2050-T3 44.5 kN/100 rpm Aged for 16 h at 190 ◦ C 100 HV
2050-T3 44.5 kN/100 rpm Cold worked 120 HV
2050-T3 44.5 kN/100 rpm Cold worked and aged for 16 h at 190 ◦ C 160 HV

Fig. 8. Stress-strain curves comparison between extrudates for the 26.7 kN/100 rpm
case studies.

in extrudate hardness as shown in Fig. 7a for extrudates produced

using 26.7 kN and 100 RPM with different starting billet conditions.
The T3 condition is achieved by cold deformation after solution heat
treatment, which is the likely explanation for the lower hardness in
the as extruded material. The as extruded material is presumed to
be in a nearly solution treated condition but has not been subjected
to cold working.
The primary reason for cold working of the solution treated
material is to provide dislocations, which may act as sites for
heterogeneous nucleation of the strengthening T1 phase during
subsequent artificial aging: in the absence of such cold working,
Fig. 7. Microhardness profiles for (a) the 26.7 kN/100 rpm case studies with different T1 precipitation can be very sluggish and maximum strength, cor-
initial heat treatments, and (b) for the 44.5 kN/100 rpm case study and different responding to the T8 condition, cannot be achieved [13]. To further
post-extrusion treatment.
understand the condition of the as extruded 2050 alloy wires, some
samples were subjected to artificial aging both in the “as extruded”
study. Analyzing the cross section of the extrudates a uniform, fine condition and after cold working (tensile deformation of about
equiaxed microstructure (Fig. 5b) can be observed in all the “sound” 10%). Fig. 7b clearly shows the beneficial effect of cold work on
case studies (i.e. the ones not presenting hot cracks on the external the achievable hardness; almost reaching the 2050-T8 hardness
surface). The average grain size ranges between 6 ␮m and 13 ␮m, level (180 HV). Table 3 summarize the average hardness for the
with finer grains in the area closer to the external surface of the base materials and the extrudates after different post-processing
extrudates; this can be explained considering the higher level of operations.
deformation to which the material closer to the wall of the extru- As far as the tensile resistance is concerned, similar to the hard-
sion channel is subjected with respect to the center of the rod as ness, the sound extrudates (i.e. not affected by hot surface cracking)
also highlighted by Li et al. [14]. exhibited properties similar to but slightly lower than the T3 plate,
The presence of this peculiar microstructure can be explained (Fig. 8). These results confirm again the solution treatment and sub-
by material recrystallization occurring after the extrusion process sequent artificial aging that the metal undergoes during and after
itself, considering that the longitudinal section of the extrudates the extrusion process respectively allowing the extrudates to show
shows no significant grain deformation in the extrusion direction higher mechanical resistance in comparison to the base material in
(Fig. 5a). In the case studies characterized by hot cracking very large the case studies characterized by processing of not solution-treated
grains may be observed in the external part of the samples (Fig. 5c) metals such as the O and the cast alloy. Nevertheless, the total elon-
with the exception of the areas adjacent to the cracks, which inhibit gation of the extrudates resulted to be lower than the base material,
grain growth. even considering the T3 temper. This can be explained considering
As expected for AA2050, hardness through the cross section of the precipitate formation in the recrystallized material acting as
the extrudates is not correlated with grain size (see Fig. 6). Mean obstacles to dislocation motion, reducing the attainable deforma-
values of Vickers microhardness of the extrudates are lower than tion before failure. This effect has to be kept into account since post
the plate in the T3 condition (130 HV) and no significant variation extrusion annealing may be needed in order to make the most of
324 D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325

Fig. 10. Extrusion rate average values with varying process parameters for AA2050-
T3 case studies.

Fig. 9. (a) Torque measurements for the 26.7 kN/100 rpm case study with differ-
ent initial base material conditions, (b) torque average values with varying process
parameters for AA2050-T3 case studies.

Fig. 11. Temperature profile during the process for the 35.6 kN/100 rpm/2050-T3
the material in terms of deformation capabilities for subsequent case study.

Considering that different sets of parameters allowed to obtain extrusion charge. The higher heating rate leads to rapid mate-
almost the same result in terms of extrudate “quality” and the initial rial softening and, consequently, increased rate of extrusion. It is
treatment of the base material did not show any strong influence interesting to note that while increased extrusion pressure in con-
on the final products, it is worth analyzing the effect of these vari- ventional extrusion will lead to greater extrusion rate at any given
ables on other, not controlled, process parameters. As far as torque temperature, in the friction extrusion process, increased extrusion
is concerned, the initial state of the base material has an important pressure is coupled to the heating due to the action of the rotat-
effect. Fig. 9a shows that Cast and O conditions cause a higher peak ing die; hence, the function of extrusion pressure is multiplied.
torque and slightly lower average values in comparison with T3 No differences were observed processing differently heat treated
and T8 for given process parameters. This can be explained consid- alloys with respect to die plunge velocity, hence extrusion rate.
ering the lower hardness of the alloy in the Cast and O conditions Process temperature, on the contrary, results to be slightly influ-
that cause the not yet softened material to stick to the die, increas- enced by process parameters for the sound case studies; thus can
ing the torque. Fig. 9b sum up the average torque values for the T3 be explained considering the concurrent effect of heat flux gen-
case studies with varying force and rpm, showing that it increases erated by friction and the material flow exiting the chamber while
with extrusion pressure and decreases with rotational speed. This extrusion occurs. The higher extrusion rate (i.e. more material being
trend is analogous to the one observed during Friction Stir Weld- extruded for given time) prevents notable temperature increases
ing processes [15]; the increase of the die rotational speed causes in the case studies characterized by higher rpm and forces. Fig. 11
the increase of the heat input further softening the material being shows a temperature profile obtained through the thermocouple
processed, finally lowering the resulting torque. On the other hand, embedded into the die in comparison with the vertical stroke of
the increasing of contact pressure increases consequently the mag- the die itself. The profile is representative of all of the extrusion
nitude of the friction force resulting in greater torque. runs with respect to the final temperature achieved (500–550 ◦ C).
Extrusion Rate was calculated analyzing the vertical movement Of course for the higher RPM and higher force runs, the time will
of the die and calculating average material speed in the extru- be shorter.
sion channel using volume conservation. The average values of It is worth noticing that the low influence of initial temper on the
extrusion rate (Fig. 10) increase with increasing rpm and increas- extrudates final properties allows choosing even the cast alloy as
ing force; this can be explained considering that both parameters a base material, with the only limitation of selecting the best com-
lead to increased power input hence, accelerated heating of the bination of process parameters in order to reduce the peak torque
D. Baffari et al. / Journal of Manufacturing Processes 28 (2017) 319–325 325

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