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This article focuses on friction stir welding (FSW), where frictional heating and displacement of the plastic material occurs by a rapidly rotating tool traversing the weld joint. Much of the research activity early on pertained to issues related to understanding the process, such as learning about material flow, heat generation, microstructure development, and many other fundamental issues. The article summarizes the results of the research, describing the aspects of how FSW actually accomplishes sound joints in metals without melting them. It discusses the FSW process variations and the practical aspects of heat generation. The article provides information on the effect of welding on material properties and typical alloys in FSW applications. The alloys include 6061 aluminum, 5083 aluminum, 2xxx aluminum, and 7xxx aluminum alloys. The article concludes with a discussion on FSW equipment.

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