Metal Flow During Friction Stir Welding

The flow of metal during Friction Stir Welding is clarified using a faying surface tracer and a nib frozen in place during welding. It is shown that material is transported by two processes. The first is a wiping of material from the advancing front side of the nib onto a plug of material that rotates and advances with the nib. The material undergoes a helical motion within the plug that both rotates and advances with the plug and descends in the wash of the threads on the nib and rises on the outer part of the plug. After one or more rotations, this material is sloughed off the plug in its wake, primarily on the advancing side.