The University of Manchester. Basem Mohysen Mohammed Al-ZubaidyDoctor of Philosophy (PhD). September 2016Material Interactions in a Novel Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding Approach to Joining Al-Al and Al-Mg Automotive SheetsRefill Friction Stir Spot Welding (RFSSW) is a new solid-state joining technology, which is suitable for joining similar and dissimilar overlap sheets connections, particularly in aluminium and magnesium alloys. This welding method is expected to have wide applications in joining of body parts in the automotive industry.In the present study, RFSSW has been used to join 1.0 mm gauge sheets of two material combinations: similar AA6111-T4 automotive aluminium alloy joints and a dissimilar aluminium AA6111-T4 to magnesium AZ31-H24 alloy combinations. The performance of the joints was investigated in terms of the effect of the welding parameters (including tool rotation rate, sleeve plunge depth, and welding time etc.) to improve current understanding and allow optimisation of the process for short welding-cycles when joining similar and dissimilar light alloys. The results of the investigations on similar AA6111 welds showed the ability to use a wide window of process parameters that resulted in joints with a successfully refilled keyhole and flat weld surface, even when using a welding time as short as 0.5 s. The joints in the as-welded condition showed strengths as high as 4.2 kN, when using welding parameters of 1500 rpm, 1.0 mm with a range of welding times from 0.55 to 2.0 s. All joints showed a nugget pull-out failure mode when using a sleeve plunge depth of 0.8 mm or more, as a result of increasing the joint area. The strength of the joints further improved and reached peak loads of 5.15 and 6.43 kN after natural and artificial ageing, respectively, for welds produced using optimised welding parameters of a 2500 rpm tool rotation rate, a 1.5 s welding time and a 1.0 mm plunge. This improvement in strength resulted from the improvement in the local mechanical properties in the HAZ and other regions, which results from a minimal HAZ due to the rapid weld cycle and the re-precipitation of GPZs and clustering on natural ageing, or β on artificial ageing.A modification to the RFSSW process was developed in this project to solve the problems faced when dissimilar welding Mg to Al. This modified process involved adding a final brief pin plunge stage to consolidate refill defects and it was successful in producing nearly defect-free joints with improved mechanical properties, using a wide range of the process parameters. The average peak load of the joints increased with increasing tool rotation rate, to reach a maximum value at 2500 rpm due to eliminating the weld defects by increasing the material plasticity. However, increasing the tool rotation rate further to 2800 rpm led to a decrease in the average peak failure load due to eutectic melting at the weld interface. The optimum welding condition was thus found to be: 2500 rpm, 1.0 s, and 1.0 mm, which gave an average peak failure load of 2.4 kN and average fracture energy of 1.3 kN.mm. These values represent an improvement of about 10 % and 27 %, respectively, compared to welds produced with the conventional RFSSW process, and about 112 % and 78 % of the Mg-Mg similar joints produced using the same welding conditions.A FE model developed in this project was successful in increasing understanding of the behaviour of the RFSSW joints when subjected to lap tensile-shear loading. The stress and strain distribution in the modelled samples showed that the highest concentration occurring in the region of the confluence of the SZ with the two sheets. With increasing extension, these regions of highest stress and strain propagated to the outer surfaces of the two sheets and then annularly around the weld nugget. This annular ring of high strain concentration agreed well with the failure path and results in the full plug pull-out fracture mode shown by the experimentally tested samples. The predicted force-extension curves showed high agreement with the experimental results, especially when including the effect of the hook defect and correction of compliance in the experimental results.