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Fatigue Life Prediction of Al-Li Alloy Butt-Welded Joints in Aerospace Structures

[+] Author Affiliations
Muhammad A. Wahab, Vinay Raghuram

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Paper No. IMECE2009-12896, pp. 199-208; 10 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 14: Processing and Engineering Applications of Novel Materials
  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA, November 13–19, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4387-1 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3863-1
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Friction-Stir-Welding (FSW) has been adopted as a major process for welding Aluminum aerospace structures. AA-2195 is one of the new generations Aluminum alloy (Al-Li) that has been used on the new super lightweight external tank of the space shuttle. The Lockheed Martin Space Systems (LMSS), Michaud Operations in New Orleans is continuously pursuing FSW technologies in its efforts to advance fabrication of the external tanks of the space shuttle. The future launch vehicles which will have to be reusable, mandates the structure to have good fatigue properties, which prompts an investigation into the fatigue behavior of the friction-stir-welded aerospace structures. The butt-joint specimens of Al-2195 are fatigue tested according to ASTM-E647. The effect of Stress ratios, Corrosion-Preventive-Compound (CPC), and periodic Overloading on fatigue life is investigated. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is used to examine the failure surfaces and examine the different modes of crack propagation i.e. tensile, shear, and brittle modes. It is found that fatigue life increases with the increase in stress ratio, the fatigue life increases from 30–38% with the use of CPC, the fatigue life increases 8–12 times with periodic overloading; crack closure phenomenon dominates the fatigue facture. Numerical Analysis using FEA has also been used to model fatigue life prediction scheme for these structures, the interface element technique with critical bonding strength criterion for formation of the new surfaces has been used to model crack propagation. The fatigue life predictions made using this method are within the acceptable ranges of 10–20% of the experimental fatigue life. This method overcomes the limitation of the traditional node-release scheme and closely follows the physics of crack propagation.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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