Friction Stir Welding of Copper Canisters Using Power and Temperature Control

Sammanfattning: This thesis presents the development to reliably seal 50 mm thick copper canisters containing the Swedish nuclear waste using friction stir welding. To avoid defects and welding tool fractures, it is important to control the tool temperature within a process window of approximately 790 to 910°C. The welding procedure requires variable power input throughout the 45 minute long weld cycle to keep the tool temperature within its process window. This is due to variable thermal boundary conditions throughout the weld cycle. The tool rotation rate is the input parameter used to control the power input and tool temperature, since studies have shown that it is the most influential parameter, which makes sense since the product of tool rotation rate and spindle torque is power input. In addition to the derived control method, the reliability of the welding procedure was optimized by other improvements. The weld cycle starts in the lid above the joint line between the lid and the canister to be able to abort a weld during the initial phase without rejecting the canister. The tool shoulder geometry was modified to a convex scroll design that has shown a self-stabilizing effect on the power input. The use of argon shielding gas reduced power input fluctuations i.e. process disturbances, and the tool probe was strengthened against fracture by adding surface treatment and reducing stress concentrations through geometry adjustments. In the study, a clear relationship was shown between power input and tool temperature. This relationship can be used to more accurately control the process within the process window, not only for this application but for other applications where a slow responding tool temperature needs to be kept within a specified range. Similarly, the potential of the convex scroll shoulder geometry in force-controlled welding mode for use in applications with other metals and thicknesses is evident. The variable thermal boundary conditions throughout the weld cycle, together with the risk of fast disturbances in the spindle torque, requires control of both the power input and the tool temperature to achieve a stable, robust and repeatable process. A cascade controller is used to efficiently suppress fast power input disturbances reducing their impact on the tool temperature. The controller is tuned using a recently presented method for robust PID control. Results show that the controller keeps the temperature within ±10°C of the desired value during the 360º long joint line sequence. Apart from the cascaded control structure, good process knowledge and control strategies adapted to different weld sequences i.e. different thermal boundary conditions have contributed to the successful results.

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