In the present work, friction stir welding experiments on AZ31 magnesium alloy sheets, characterized by a variable thickness along the welding line, were carried out. The approach adapted during welding consisted in maintaining constant the heat input to the joint. To this purpose, the rotational speed of the pin tool was increased with decreasing thickness and decreased with increasing thickness in order to obtain the same temperatures during welding. The amount by which the rotational speed was changed as a function of the sheet thickness was defined on the basis of the results given by FEM simulations of the FSW process. Finally, the effect of the in-process variation of the tool rotational speed on the mechanical and microstructural properties of FSWed joints was analysed by comparing both the nominal stress vs. nominal strain curves and microstructure of FSWed joints obtained in different process conditions. It was observed that FSW performed by keeping constant the heat input to the joint leads to almost coincident results both in terms of the curve shape, ultimate tensile strength and ultimate elongation values, and microstructure.
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