Date of Award

Winter 2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Maev, Roman Gr.

Keywords

Pure sciences, Applied sciences, Aluminum alloys, Automotive industry, Non-destructivetesting, Spot welding, Ultrasound imaging

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The real-time ultrasonic spot weld monitoring system, introduced by our research group, has been designed for the unsupervised quality characterization of the spot welding process. It comprises the ultrasonic transducer (probe) built into one of the welding electrodes and an electronics hardware unit which gathers information from the transducer, performs real-time weld quality characterization and communicates with the robot programmable logic controller (PLC). The system has been fully developed for the inspection of spot welds manufactured in steel alloys, and has been mainly applied in the automotive industry. In recent years, a variety of materials have been introduced to the automotive industry. These include high strength steels, magnesium alloys, and aluminum alloys. Aluminum alloys have been of particular interest due to their high strength-to-weight ratio. Resistance spot welding requirements for aluminum vary greatly from those of steel. Additionally, the oxide film formed on the aluminum surface increases the heat generation between the copper electrodes and the aluminum plates leading to accelerated electrode deterioration. Preliminary studies showed that the real-time quality inspection system was not able to monitor spot welds manufactured with aluminum. The extensive experimental research, finite element modelling of the aluminum welding process and finite difference modeling of the acoustic wave propagation through the aluminum spot welds presented in this dissertation, revealed that the thermodynamics and hence the acoustic wave propagation through an aluminum and a steel spot weld differ significantly. For this reason, the hardware requirements and the algorithms developed to determine the welds quality from the ultrasonic data used on steel, no longer apply on aluminum spot welds. After updating the system and designing the required algorithms, parameters such as liquid nugget penetration and nugget diameter were available in the ultrasonic data acquired during the aluminum welding process. Finally, a fuzzy system was designed to receive these parameters and determine the weld quality.

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