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microstructures of zinc and its alloys

microstructures of zinc and its alloys

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Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys,
Metallography and Microstructures, Vol 9, ASM Handbook,
ASM International, 2004, p. 933\u2013941
Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys
Microstructures of Zinc and Zinc Alloys

The natural impurities, contaminants, and alloying additions present in commercial zinc materials have extremely limited solid solubility. They readily produce alterations in cast or wrought microstructures and changes in one or more properties. High-purity zinc, UNS Z13002, for example, is 99.99% Zn with maximum limits of 0.003% each on lead, iron, and cadmium and is almost free of mircosegregation (Fig. 1,2). Nominal compositions of the alloys depicted in this article are noted in the captions.

Fig. 1 Special high-grade zinc, UNS Z13002 [99.99% Zn (min), 0.003% Pb (max), 0.003% Fe (max), 0.003% Cd (max)], as-cast. Almost
free of microsegregation. Etchant 1, Table 1. 100\u00d7
Fig. 2 Same alloy as Fig. 1 under polarized light illumination to show the extent of grain growth from original etched grain boundaries
within large grains. Etchant 1, Table 1. 100\u00d7
Page 1 of 14
Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

The elements commonly found in zinc are lead, cadmium, iron, copper, aluminum, titanium, and tin. Lead, cadmium, tin, and iron are natural impurities in zinc and are also
added to zinc to develop desired properties. Zinc casting alloys are primarily zinc-aluminum with small additions of other elements, such as copper and magnesium.
Wrought zinc alloys for rolled products generally contain lead, iron, cadmium, copper, or titanium alone or in combination and usually in concentrations under 1%. The
effects on microstructure produced by these elements are described as follows.

Zinc has a familiar role as a protective coating for steel in galvanizing processes. Pure zinc and zinc-aluminum alloys are used in continuous hot dip processes. The
galvanneal process uses zinc-iron alloys (Ref 1). Batch process hot dip galvanizing uses high-grade zinc (UNS Z15001, with impurities less than 0.10%; UNS Z13001, with
impurities less than 0.010%; and prime western zinc, UNS Z19001) (Ref 2). The interaction between base materials and coatings results in interesting profiles of
microstructures (Ref 1,3,4,5).

Lead. The solubility of lead in solid zinc is extremely limited. A monotectic is formed at 418 \u00b0C (784 \u00b0F) and a lead content of 0.9%, and zinc crystals and liquid exist in
equilibrium down to the eutectic temperature of 318 \u00b0C (604 \u00b0F). As a result, lead appears in cast zinc and zinc alloys at the dendrite boundaries in the form of small,
spherical droplets or surface films (Fig. 3
). Because of their softness, the droplets can be easily pulled out during polishing, leaving holes that appear black in the
microstructure. Special care in polishing is required to retain the lead particles.
Fig. 3 Prime western zinc, UNS Z19001 [98% Zn (min), 1.4% Pb (max), 0.05% Fe (max), 0.20% Cd (max)], as cast. The dark spots are
lead particles at the grain boundaries. Etchant 1, Table 1. 100\u00d7
When rolled, the particles of lead are elongated in the rolling direction and are not located preferentially at the recrystallized grain boundaries. In zinc-aluminum alloys, lead
induces intergranular corrosion; concentrations must be maintained below 0.004%. Lead was added to UNS Z33520 to illustrate this effect in Fig. 4 and5.
Fig. 4 Fracture surface of the 10 mm (0.375 in.) diameter end of a tension test bar die cast from alloy 3 (UNS Z33520) to which 0.018%
Pb was added (0.005% Pb is allowed). Exposed 10 days to wet steam at 95 \u00b0C (205 \u00b0F). Dark ring is intergranular corrosion. See alsoF ig .
5Not polished, not etched. 6\u00d7
Page 2 of 14
Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

Fig. 5 Micrograph of edge of fracture surface in Fig. 4 Subsurface intergranular corrosion (top) causes swelling and decreases mechanical
properties. Deliberate addition of 0.018% Pb to the alloy approximates the contamination that might occur from the use of remelted
scrap. As-polished. 100\u00d7

The cadmium present in most commercial zinc products is in solid solution and produces no change in microstructure, except coring in the cast structure. In rolled zinc,
the cadmium remains in solid solution, increasing strength, hardness, and creep resistance and raising the recrystallization temperature (Fig. 6, Fig. 7). In zinc-aluminum
alloys, because cadmium lowers resistance to intergranular corrosion, concentrations must remain below 0.003%.
Fig. 6 Hot-rolled special zinc [99% Zn (min), 0.6% Pb (max), 0.03% Fe (max), 0.50% Cd (max)], under polarized light; grains are clearly
defined. Etchant 1, Table 1. 250\u00d7
Page 3 of 14
Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

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