Aluminum alloy sheets have been widely used to build the thin-walled structures by mechanical clinching technology in recent years. However, there is an exterior protrusion located on the lower sheet and a pit on the upper sheet, which may restrict the application of the clinching technology in visible areas. In the present study, an improved clinched joint used to join aluminum alloy sheets was investigated by experimental method. The improved clinching process used for joining aluminum alloy evolves through four phases: (a) localized deformation; (b) drawing; (c) backward extrusion; and (d) mechanical interlock forming. A flat surface can be produced using the improved clinching process. Shearing strength, tensile strength, material flow, main geometrical parameters, and failure mode of the improved clinched joint were investigated. The sheet material was compressed to flow radially and upward using a punch, which generated a mechanical interlock by producing severe localized plastic deformation. The neck thickness and interlock of the improved clinched joint were increased by increasing the forming force, which also contributed to increase the strength of the clinched joint. The improved clinched joint can get high shearing strength and tensile strength. Three main failure modes were observed in the failure process, which were neck fracture mode, button separation mode, and mixed failure mode. The improved clinched joint has better joining quality to join aluminum alloy sheets on the thin-walled structures.
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