Friction bit joining (FBJ) is a new method that enables lightweight metal to be joined to advanced high-strength steels. Weight reduction through the use of advanced high-strength materials is necessary in the automotive industry, as well as other markets, where weight savings are increasingly emphasized in pursuit of fuel efficiency. The purpose of this research is twofold: (1) to understand the influence that process parameters such as bit design, material type and machine commands have on the consistency and strength of friction bit joints in dissimilar metal alloys; and (2) to pioneer machine and bit configurations that would aid commercial, automated application of the system. Rotary broaching was established as an effective bit production method, pointing towards cold heading and other forming methods in commercial production. Bit hardness equal to the base material was found to be highly critical for strong welds. Bit geometry was found to contribute significantly as well, with weld strength increasing with larger bit shaft diameter. Solid bit heads are also desirable from both a metallurgical and industry standpoint. Cutting features are necessary for flat welds and allow multiple material types to be joined to advanced high-strength steel. Parameters for driving the bit were established and relationships identified. Greater surface area of contact between the bit and the driver was shown to aid in weld consistency. Microstructure changes resulting from the weld process were characterized and showed a transition zone between the bit head and the bit shaft where bit hardness was significantly increased. This zone is frequently the location of fracture modes. Fatigue testing showed the ability of FBJ to resist constant stress cycles, with the joined aluminum failing prior to the FBJ fusion bond in all cases. Corrosion testing established the use of adhesive to be an effective method for reducing galvanic corrosion and also for protecting the weld from oxidation reactions.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Lile Squires, friction bit joining, FBJ, dissimilar metals, dissimilar material joining, advanced high-strength steel, aluminum, DP980, automotive manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, corrosion, ORNL, friction element welding