Friction self-piercing riveting (F-SPR) process has been proposed to join low ductility lightweight materials, and has shown advantages over fusion welding, solid state welding and traditional mechanical joining processes in joining dissimilar as well as low ductility materials. Because of the thermo-mechanical nature of F-SPR process, the formation of the joint is determined by riveting force and softening degree of the materials. However, it is still not clear that how exactly the riveting force and generated frictional heat jointly influence the mechanical interlocking formation and inhibit cracks during F-SPR process. To address these issues, in current study, F-SPR process was applied to join 2.2 mm-thick AA6061-T6 aluminum alloy to 2.0 mm-thick AZ31B magnesium alloy. The correlation of riveting force, torque responses as well as energy input with joint quality were investigated systematically under a wide range of process parameter combinations. It was found that a relatively greater final peak force and higher energy input were favorable to produce sound joints. Based on that, a two-stage method was proposed to better control the energy input and riveting force. It was found that the joints produced by the two-stage method exhibited significantly improved lap-shear strength, i.e., 70% higher than traditional SPR joints and 30% higher than one-stage F-SPR joints. This research provides a valuable reference for further understanding the F-SPR joint formation and process optimization.

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