The increased application of lightweight materials, such as aluminium has initiated many investigations into new joining techniques for aluminium alloys. The resistance spot welding (RSW) concept for aluminium has always attracted many researchers from different organizations. Self-piercing riveting (SPR) is the major production process used to join aluminium sheet body structures for the automotive industry. The research team at the University of Warwick has investigated these two major joining technologies for aluminium assembly. The paper reported here gives an in depth comparison of the mechanical behaviour for each joint type under different loading conditions. It covers symmetrical and asymmetrical assembly from thin gauge of 1.0 mm to thick gauge of 3.0 mm. The results suggest that generally RSW can provide similar strength performance to SPR with the exception of T-peel; the energy to maximum load needs be considered ‘case to case’ and is dependent largely on loading conditions and the failure mode particularly with respect to SPR. The spread of results for SPR is generally smaller than for RSW, and the performance of SPR joints improves as the thickness increases
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