UCLA Researchers Discover a New Method for Welding 7075 Aluminum Alloy
Goran Radanovic posted on February 22, 2019 |
Scientists at UCLA used technology to bind a popular aluminum alloy.

Experts who claimed that aluminum alloy AA 7075 was unweldable are eating their words, as researchers at a South Californian university stated that they used welding technology to bind the popular aluminum alloy. AA 7075 is a strong but light-weight aluminum alloy developed in the 1940s and held promise for use in the automobile industry. Although strong as steel and only third of the weight, AA 7075 was difficult to weld together using the standard methods to assemble engine parts or body panels.

Engineers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering stated that the method they developed for welding AA 7075 prevents the metal from buckling after extensive heating. The engineers demonstrated their discovery by infusing titanium carbide into welding wires, hindering cracks along the weld. The technique that the researchers used yielded a strength of up to 392 megapascals while welds of 6061 aluminum alloy yield 161 megapascals. The engineers also stated that post-welding heating treatment could increase the strength to 551 megapascals.

The breakthrough has prompted the engineers to believe that the aircraft industry will use their welding technique since it uses a weaker method to bind 7075. Xiaochun Li, UCLA’s Raytheon Professor of Manufacturing and the study’s principal investigator, believes that the new method will have various uses in several industries. “The new technique is just a simple twist, but it could allow widespread use of this high-strength aluminum alloy in mass-produced products like cars or bicycles, where parts are often assembled together. Companies could use the same processes and equipment they already have to incorporate this super-strong aluminum alloy into their manufacturing processes, and their products could be lighter and more energy efficient, while still retaining their strength,” said Li.

The team has partnered with a bicycle manufacturer to produce a prototype frame made from 7075. The engineers’ study suggests that nanoparticle-infused filler wires could enable easier binding of metal alloys and hard-to-weld metals. The team also predicts that businesses involved with electric vehicles, aircraft, rock-climbing equipment and smartphones could adopt their technique.

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