Ultrasonic plastic welding of CF/PA6 composites to aluminium: Process and mechanical performance of welded joints

Umberto F. Dal Conte*, Irene F Villegas, Julien Tachon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Due to environmental challenges and need for action with regard to CO 2 emission, reducing the weight of vehicles has become one of the most important goals of car manufacturers in Europe. Materials like fibre-reinforced plastics and aluminium are the core of the research for lightweight design. However, efficiently joining these materials together is still a challenge. When thermoplastic composites are used, direct joining (i.e. without adhesives or fasteners) with the metal substrate can be obtained using welding technologies which melt the thermoplastic at the interface. In this study, ultrasonic plastic welding was investigated as a candidate technology for joining aluminium and carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastics. The goal was to understand the main mechanisms involved in the welding process and how they affect the performance of the joint. Initially, the technique proved to be successful, but moderate strengths were obtained. Therefore, several surface pre-treatments of aluminium were analysed to improve the performance in terms of lap shear strength; mechanical, chemical and physical treatments were also carried out. With laser structuring, strengths comparable to adhesive bonded joints were obtained, but in a much shorter process time. Other treatments led to considerable improvements as well. The encouraging results achieved represent an important step in the development of ultrasonic plastic welding for multi-material joining in the automotive industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2607-2621
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Composite Materials
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • aluminium
  • composites
  • multi-material joining
  • thermoplastic
  • Ultrasonic welding


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