In recent years, the use of aluminum alloy has tended to increase for building lightweight automobiles to reduce their automotive weight, which is helpful to save energy and protect the environment. In order to join aluminum alloy, a flat-clinching process combined with material forming technology was investigated to join aluminum alloy sheets using an experimental and a numerical method. Al1060 was chosen as the material of the sheet, and DEFORM-2D software was used to build the numerical model. After the numerical model was validated by the experimental results, the influences of punch diameter and holder force on the materials deforming behavior of the clinched joint were analyzed using the numerical model. Then, the material flow, joining ability, and joining quality were investigated to assess the clinched joint. The results showed that an increase in punch diameter could give rise to an increase in neck thickness and interlocking length, while an increase in blank holder force induced a decrease in interlocking length and an increase in neck thickness. The joining quality could be increased by increasing the forming force. It can be concluded that a clinched joint has better joining quality for joining light-weight sheets onto automotive structures.
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