Skip to main content Accessibility help

Nondestructive evaluation of resistance spot-welded Al-steel joints

  • Blair E. Carlson (a1), Amberlee S. Haselhuhn (a2), Jian Chen (a3) and Zhili Feng (a4)


With growing demand for better fuel economy for automobiles, multimaterial solutions are increasingly being utilized in the automotive industry for reducing weight in the vehicle body structure. This poses challenges in terms of joining dissimilar metals, especially those with vastly different properties such as aluminum to steel joining. General Motors has developed a new resistance spot-welding technique for dissimilar materials using a multi-ring domed (MRD) electrode and multiple solidification weld schedules to address this challenge. Originally developed for aluminum to aluminum resistance spot welding, this technology is being deployed as the mainstream aluminum joining solution to leverage existing infrastructure and workforce competency in resistance spot welding. With the recent expansion of MRD technology to aluminum to steel resistance spot welding, there is an ever-greater need to experimentally verify the quality of each aluminum to steel resistance spot-weld application with limited time and resources. Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) would enable the transfer of resistance spot-welding technology to dissimilar aluminum to steel joints. This article describes the current state of the art of aluminum to steel resistance spot welding and the challenges in developing a robust NDE process for this technology.



Hide All
1.Joule, J.P., The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 19, 260 (1841).
2.Thomson, E., “Method of Electric Welding,” US Patent 451, 345 (April 28, 1891).
3.McCarthy, C.J., Technol. Cult. 4, 165 (1963).
4.Gropman, A., Ed., The Big L: American Logistics in World War II (National Defense University Press, Washington, DC, 1997).
5.Sigler, D.R., Schroth, J.G., Karagoulis, M.J., Zuo, D., “New Electrode Weld Face Geometries for Spot Welding Aluminum,” Proc. Sheet Metal Weld. Conf. XIV (American Welding Society, Livonia, MI, 2010).
6.Sigler, D.R., Karagoulis, M.J., “Cutting Tool for Forming and Reforming Welding Electrodes with Contoured Faces,” US Patent 8,833,215 (September 16, 2014).
7.Sigler, D.R., Karagoulis, M.J., “Weld Schedule for Resistance Spot Welding of Aluminum Alloy Workpieces,” US Patent 9,969,026 (May 15, 2018).
8.Sigler, D.R., Carlson, B.E., “Impediments to Developing Resistance Spot Welding Processes for Joining Aluminum to Steel,” Conf. Proc. AWS SMWC XVIII (American Welding Society, Livonia, MI, October 17–18, 2018).
9.Haselhuhn, A.S., Sigler, D.R., Carlson, B.E., “Static and Dynamic Mechanical Performance of Aluminum-Steel Resistance Spot Welds,” Conf. Proc. AWS SMWC XVIII (American Welding Society, Livonia, MI, October 17–18, 2018).
10.Haselhuhn, A.S., Chen, C., Sigler, D.R., Carlson, B.E., “Robustness of Al-Steel Resistance Spot Welds to Production Conditions,” Conf. Proc. AWS SMWC XVIII (American Welding Society, Livonia, MI, October 17–18, 2018).
11.Sigler, D.R., Carlson, B.E., Myasnikova, Y., Karagoulis, M.J., “Multi-Step Direct Welding of Aluminum to Steel,” US Patent 9,999,938 (June 19, 2018).
12.Sigler, D.R., Carlson, B.E., Karagoulis, M.J., “Multi-Stage Resistance Spot Welding Method for Workpiece Stack-up Having Adjacent Steel and Aluminum Workpieces,” US Patent Application 20170106466 (April 20, 2017).
13.Shi, L., Kang, J., Shalchi-Amirkhiz, B., Sigler, D.R., Haselhuhn, A.S., Carlson, B.E., J. Mater. Process. Technol. 264, 438 (2019).
14.Ghaffari, B., Mozurkewich, G., “Chapter 5: Non-Destructive Evaluation of Spot Weld Quality,” in Failure Mechanisms of Advanced Welding Processes, Sun, X., Ed. (Woodhead Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2010), pp. 101136.
15.Na, J.K., Adv. Mater. Proc. 172, 22 (2014).
16.Baradarani, A., Khanli, L.M., Chertov, A.M., Regalado, W.P., Maev, R.Gr., “Efficient Feature Extraction in Ultrasonic Spot Weld Inspection,” Proc. 2017 IEEE 30th Canadian Conf. on Elec. Comp. Eng. (CCECE), pp. 14.
17.Woo, W., Chin, C.W., Feng, Z., Wang, H., Zhang, W., “Application of Infrared Imaging for Quality Inspection in Resistance Spot Welds,” Proc. SPIE 7299, 729912 (2009).
18.Shepard, S.M., “Automated Non-Destructive Weld Evaluation Method and Apparatus,” US Patent 6585146 (July 1, 2003).
19.Chen, J., Feng, Z., “Online Resistance Spot Weld NDE Using Infrared Thermography,” SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring (May 2017).
20.Chen, J., Carlson, B., McGovern, M., Rinker, T., Haselhuhn, A., Feng, Z., Nondestructive Inspection of Al-Steel Weld Bond, (Techn. Rep. ORNL/TM-2019/1175, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, 2019).
21.Campbell, F.C., Elements of Metallurgy and Engineering Alloys (ASM International, Materials Park, OH, 2008).
22.Deng, L., Li, Y.-B., Carlson, B.E., Sigler, D.R., Weld. J. 97, 120 (2018).



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed