9 March 2015 Enabling lightweight designs by a new laser based approach for joining aluminum to steel
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Abstract
As sustainability is an essential requirement, lightweight design becomes more and more important, especially for mobility. Reduced weight ensures more efficient vehicles and enables better environmental impact. Besides the design, new materials and material combinations are one major trend to achieve the required weight savings. The use of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (abbr. CFRP) is widely discussed, but so far high volume applications are rarely to be found. This is mainly due to the fact that parts made of CFRP are much more expensive than conventional parts. Furthermore, the proper technologies for high volume production are not yet ready. Another material with a large potential for lightweight design is aluminum. In comparison to CFRP, aluminum alloys are generally more affordable. As aluminum is a metallic material, production technologies for high volume standard cutting or joining applications are already developed. In addition, bending and deep-drawing can be applied. In automotive engineering, hybrid structures such as combining high-strength steels with lightweight aluminum alloys retain significant weight reduction but also have an advantage over monolithic aluminum - enhanced behavior in case of crash. Therefore, since the use of steel for applications requiring high mechanical properties is unavoidable, methods for joining aluminum with steel parts have to be further developed. Former studies showed that the use of a laser beam can be a possibility to join aluminum to steel parts. In this sense, the laser welding process represents a major challenge, since both materials have different thermal expansion coefficients and properties related to the behavior in corrosive media. Additionally, brittle intermetallic phases are formed during welding. A promising approach to welding aluminum to steel is based on the use of Laser Metal Deposition (abbr. LMD) with deposit materials in the form of powders. Within the present work, the advantages of this approach in comparison to conventional processes, as well as expected limitations are described.
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Rüdiger Brockmann, Sebastian Kaufmann, Marc Kirchhoff, Antonio Candel-Ruiz, Oliver Müllerschön, David Havrilla, "Enabling lightweight designs by a new laser based approach for joining aluminum to steel", Proc. SPIE 9356, High-Power Laser Materials Processing: Lasers, Beam Delivery, Diagnostics, and Applications IV, 93560G (9 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2076747; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2076747
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