Friction stir spot welding (FSSW) is quickly becoming a method of interest for welding of high strength steel (HSS) and ultra high strength steel (UHSS). FSSW has been shown to produce high quality welds in these materials, without the drawbacks associated with fusion welding. Tool grade for polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) tools has a significant impact on wear resistance, weld quality, and tool failure in FSSW of DP 980 steel sheet. More specifically, for a nominal composition of 90% CBN, the grain size has a significant impact on the wear resistance of the tool. A-type tools performed the best, of the three grades that were tested in this work, because the grain size of this grade was the finest, measuring from 3-6 microns. The effect of fine grain size was less adhesion of DP 980 on the tool surface over time, less abrasive wear, and better lap shear fracture loads of the welds that were produced, compared to the other grades. This is explained by less exposure of the binder phase to wear by both adhesion and abrasion during welding of DP 980. A-type tools were the most consistent in both the number of welds per tool, and the number of welds that reached acceptable lap shear fracture loads. B-type tools, with a bimodal grain size distribution (grain size of 4 – 40 microns) did a little bit better than C-type tools (grain size of 12-15 microns) in terms of wear, but neither of them were able to achieve consistent acceptable lap shear fracture load values after the first 200 welds. In fact only one out of five C-type tools was able to produce acceptable lap shear fracture loads after the first 100 welds.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





DP980, FSSW, UHSS, PCBN, micro-hardness, lap shear fracture load, vertical welding load

Technology Emphasis

Manufacturing Systems (MS)