One of the challenges that impede the use of the relatively new friction stir welding (FSW) process in joining steels and high temperature alloys, as well as dissimilar materials, is the development of the right pin tool material that can stand the severe welding conditions of these alloys. Recent developments in FSW tool materials include tungsten rhenium (W-Re) alloys. The ductile to brittle transition temperature of pure tungsten is reduced by the addition of rhenium (Re).. The addition of Re also improve fracture toughness of the alloy. The major focus of this paper is studying the process of making a friction stir welding bead on mild steel using a proprietary W-25%Re alloy pin tool and investigating the effects of process parameters (i.e. tool rotational and welding speeds) on microstructure, microhardness as well as tool reaction loads. Grain refining of the steel microstructure was observed in all beads. Certain process conditions produced a bead with needle like microstructure with the highest values of hardness. Reaction forces were found to increase with the increase in the tool welding speed and to decrease with the increase of the tool rotational speed. Although the spectroscopic analysis of the beads confirmed the diffusion wear of the tool, the overall tool has shown excellent resistance to mechanical wear.

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