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Materials Science and Engineering A 395 (2005) 7076

Effect of severe plastic deformation on tensile properties of a cast Al11 mass% Si alloy
Aibin Maa, , Naobumi Saitoa , Makoto Takagib , Yoshinori Nishidaa , Hiroyuki Iwatab , Kazutaka Suzukia , Ichinori Shigematsua , Akira Watazua
a

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Materials Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Anagahora 2266-98, Shimoshidami, Moriyama-ku, Nagoya 463-8560, Japan b Aichi Institute of Technology, Yakusa-cho, Toyota, Aichi 470-0392, Japan Received 18 October 2004; received in revised form 1 December 2004; accepted 22 December 2004

Abstract Up to now, investigations for the effect of the severe plastic deformation on mechanical properties of the processed materials are not enough. In the present work, tensile properties of a cast Al11 mass% Si alloy processed by rotary-die equal-channel angular pressing (RD-ECAP) with 432 passes were investigated at room temperature. Elongation to failure signicantly increased with the number of RD-ECAP passes from 4 to 32. For example, the sample pressed 32 passes has 10 times higher elongation (15%) than the as-cast alloy (1.5%). These results show that the cast Al11 mass% Si alloy was transformed into a ductile alloy by RD-ECAP. Yield strength was noticeably improved by rst four passes of RD-ECAP (about 40%) compared with that of the as-cast alloy. Fine-grained microstructure of the aluminum alloy matrix (about 300 nm) and modied grain boundaries after RD-ECAP is the primary reason for exhibiting signicant ductility of this alloy. Grain boundary sliding (GBS) occurred at the room temperature tensile testing in the RD-ECAPed sample. The plastic deformation and fracture mechanism of the cast Al11 mass% Si alloy were markedly changed by RD-ECAP. 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Tensile property; Aluminum alloy; Severe plastic deformation; Rotary-die equal-channel angular pressing (RD-ECAP); Fracture mechanism

1. Introduction In recent years, much attention has been paid to the severe plastic deformation (SPD) in producing ne-grained or nanostructured materials [15]. Equal-channel angular pressing (ECAP) is one of the SPD methods and usually used in fabrication of ne-grained metallic materials, because ECAP can produce large cumulative strains in materials without remarkably changing the geometry of a bulk billet [610]. The billet gets simple shear when it passes through the crossing plane of the two channels in the die. However, using the conventional ECAP, the billet needs to be removed from the die and re-inserted for the next pass. A great deal of time is therefore needed to obtain the desired microstruc

ture, and hence it is difcult to apply ECAP industrially. To overcome this difculty, Nishida et al. have developed a new ECAP process that uses a rotary-die, namely rotarydie equal-channel angular pressing (RD-ECAP) [11,12], in which the billet does not need to be removed from the die and re-inserted for the next pass. Using RD-ECAP, numerous passes can be easily and rapidly applied to one billet. The primary deformation in RD-ECAP is similar to that in the conventional ECAP with internal angle, 90 , between the two die channels, and the effective strain is given by 2N = 3 (1)

Corresponding author. Tel.: +81 52 736 7194; fax: +81 52 736 7406. E-mail address: ma-aibin@aist.go.jp (A. Ma).

where N is ECAP passes. After one pass, the effective strain in the billet is about 1.15. It should be noticed, however, that the plastic deformation during RD-ECAP is non-uniform when

0921-5093/$ see front matter 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.msea.2004.12.038

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the billet aspect ratio is low because of the un-worked billet end zones [13]. The strength of metallic materials increases proportionally to the reciprocal of square root of grain diameter, which is well known as the Hall-Petch rule [14]. Even after a few ECAP passes (usually four passes), ne-grained materials (typically grain size less than 1 m) can be obtained [1517]. Metals with ne-grained microstructures exhibit higher strength and lower ductility than the un-pressed ascoarse materials [18,19]. Some metals after ECAP, however, exhibit much higher ductility than the as-coarse materials [20,21]. In addition, few reports about ECAP have focused on the tensile properties of the cast aluminum silicon alloys that were widely used for automobile parts. Then, the purpose of the present work is to investigate how the tensile properties of a cast Al11 mass% Si alloy are improved by severe plastic deformation through RD-ECAP, and to discuss the fracture mechanism difference between the as-cast and the RD-ECAP processed (RD-ECAPed) Al11 mass% Si alloys. In the cast aluminum silicon alloys, it is believed that the aspects of the silicon phase take dominant effects on the mechanical properties [22]. On the other hand, the impact toughness of an Al11 mass% Si alloy was signicantly improved by RD-ECAP [23]. This result suggests that it is possible to improve the tensile properties of the cast AlSi alloy through RD-ECAP.

longitudinal direction. Four specimens were made from one billet. A Shimadzu AGS-10kND testing machine was used for the tensile test at a constant rate of the crosshead displacement and the load was recorded continuously on a strip-chart recorder. The tensile test was carried out with an initial strain rate of 2.3 103 s1 at room temperature. A Nikon Eclipse ME600 optical microscope was used to observe microstructure change after a tensile test at the longitudinal section near the fracture surface. A JEOL-2010 transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was applied to obtain grain size of the aluminum alloy matrix in the RD-ECAPed samples. A JEOL JSM-5200 scanning electron microscope (SEM) was applied to observe the fractured surface and the side surface of the tested specimen.

3. Experimental results 3.1. Tensile properties Fig. 1 illustrates the typical engineering stress and strain curves of the as-cast alloy and four RD-ECAPed samples. As shown in this gure, both the maximum stress and the maximum strain signicantly increased after RD-ECAP. Fig. 2 illustrates the tensile strength and the elongation to failure as a function of the number of RD-ECAP passes. The elongation to failure remarkably increased with increasing the number of RD-ECAP passes, and nally reached 10 times

2. Experimental procedures The material used in the present research was the cast Al11 mass% Si alloy (nominally 11.3 mass% Si, 1.00 mass% Cu, 1.13 mass% Mg, 1.10 mass% Ni, 0.277 mass% Fe and balance of Al). This alloy is a kind of the eutectic AlSi alloy. Before RD-ECAP, ingots were re-melted in a graphite crucible in an electric furnace. The melt was modied through the addition of Al10 mass% Sr alloy to rene eutectic silicon crystals, and poured at 973 K in a metal mold preheated at 573 K. As is well known, AlSi eutectic alloys are usually used after T6 treatment in industries. In the present research, T6 treatment was also applied to some samples before RD-ECAP for comparison. The solution treatment was performed at 793 K for 7.2 103 s in an electrical furnace and the articial aging was performed at 443 K for 3.6 104 s in an oil bath. During the solution treatment, the silicon accumulated to be large and rounded particles in the alloy [24]. Detail of RD-ECAP was reported by Nishida et al. [11]. The processing route of multipass RD-ECAP is similar to the route A accepted in the conventional ECAP [25]. Billets with 19.5 mm in diameter and 40 mm in length were preheated for 1.2 103 s in the die for the RD-ECAP processing. These billets were continuously pressed at 573 6 K for 4, 8, 16 or 32 passes. The specimens for the tensile test with 2.5 mm in diameter and 13.5 mm in gage length were cut from the billet along the

Fig. 1. Typical engineering stress and strain curves of the RD-ECAPed Al11 mass% Si alloy.

Fig. 2. Tensile properties of the RD-ECAPed Al11 mass% Si alloy as a function of the number of RD-ECAP passes.

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higher value (15%) after 32 passes than that of the ascast alloy (1.5%). On the other hand, tensile strength, particularly the yield strength, noticeably increased after the rst four passes (about 40%). Then the yield strength decreased gradually as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased up to 16 passes. The ultimate tensile strength (UTS), however, slightly decreased as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased up to eight passes. When the number of RD-ECAP passes was over eight, the strength did not clearly change. 3.2. Effect of T6 treatment The effect of T6 treatment performed before RD-ECAP on tensile properties is shown in Fig. 3, where (a) and (b) show the ultimate tensile strength and the total elongation as a function of the number of RD-ECAP passes, respectively. The strength of the as-cast alloy (the number of RDECAP passes is zero) remarkably increased after T6 treatment. None of the samples processed by RD-ECAP after T6 treatment, however, exhibits much higher strength than the samples without T6 treatment. It means that the effect of T6 treatment performed before RD-ECAP on tensile strength is very little in the RD-ECAPed samples. On the other hand, all samples with T6 treatment followed by RD-ECAP exhibit higher elongation (about 3.5% higher) than the samples processed only by RD-ECAP. This result indicates that T6 treatment before RD-ECAP is not effective for the improvement of the tensile strength, but useful for improvement of ductility for the Al11 mass% Si alloy.

3.3. Micrographs of the fracture surfaces Fig. 4 shows the micrographs of the fracture surfaces, where (a), (b) and (c) are the cast alloy with T6 treatment, the sample processed four passes and the sample processed 32 passes, respectively. In Fig. 4(a), the fracture surface of the cast alloy shows many facets (not dimples) with about 5 m in diameter. As shown in Fig. 4(b), many dimples are observed in the four passes sample, although these dimples are not even in size. When the number of RD-ECAP passes is 32, as shown in Fig. 4(c), the fracture surface clearly changed to a ne dimpled rupture (about 1 m dimple in diameter).

Fig. 3. Effect of T6 treatment before RD-ECAP processing on tensile properties: (a) tensile strength and (b) elongation to failure.

Fig. 4. Scanning electron micrographs of the fracture surfaces of the tested specimens: (a) cast alloy with T6 treatment, (b and c) were pressed by RDECAP for 4 and 32 passes, respectively.

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These micrographs indicate that the fracture mechanism of the Al11 mass% Si alloy is gradually changed by RD-ECAP from 4 to 32 passes, i.e., the Al11 mass% Si alloy appears to transform to a ductile aluminum alloy after 32 passes. Fig. 5 shows a series of the optical micrographs of the tested specimens near the fracture surface along the longitudinal direction. Fig. 5(a) and (b) show the micrographs of the as-cast and T6 treated but un-pressed alloy, respectively. Fig. 5(c)(e) show the micrographs of the RD-ECAPed samples pressed 4, 8 and 32 passes, respectively. Fig. 5(f) shows micrograph of the sample pressed 16 passes after T6 treatment. The tensile direction of these specimens is along the horizontal line in these pictures. As shown in Fig. 5(a), the fracture surface of the as-cast alloy is almost normal to the tensile direction and the crack path is almost along the eutectic silicon regions due to the fact that the eutectic silicon plates

are usually connected like silicon corals [26]. To the contrary, the fracture surfaces of the specimens shown in Fig. 5(b)(f) are not clearly along the eutectic silicon regions. In Fig. 5(b), the silicon particles grow and rounded by T6 treatment compared with the as-cast alloy, resulting in the elimination of the silicon corals. In Fig. 5(c)(e), the silicon corals were broken by RD-ECAP and the dispersion of silicon particles became more homogeneous as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased. In the micrograph of Fig. 5(f), we can observe the large particles with round corners and very ne particles with the diameter less than 1 m in aluminum alloy matrix. These ne particles originated in articial aging of T6 treatment and RD-ECAP processing [23]. Both particles were homogeneously dispersed. In addition, some broken particles (marked by arrows in Fig. 5) can be observed in the un-pressed but T6 treated al-

Fig. 5. Aspects of the eutectic silicon particles in the tested Al11 mass% Si specimens: (a) as-cast state, (b) un-pressed but T6 heat-treated, (ce) were pressed by RD-ECAP for 4, 8 and 32 passes, respectively, and (f) pressed16 passes after T6 treatment.

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loy and in the RD-ECAPed samples. These broken particles were produced during tensile testing because no crack was found in these samples before tensile test [23]. These pictures show that the RD-ECAPed samples have less broken particles compared to the un-pressed but T6 heat-treated alloy.

4. Discussion As mentioned above, the as-cast Al11 mass% Si alloy exhibits lower tensile strength and lower ductility at room temperature. This result is related to the microstructure of this alloy. The microstructure of the as-cast Al11 mass% Si alloy usually consists of large aluminum dendrites and large eutectic silicon corals. In addition, some casting defects usually exist such as micro-shrinkage and small gas porosity, etc. These are the primary reasons for the low tensile properties of this alloy at room temperature. During RD-ECAP, the large aluminum dendrites and eutectic silicon corals were broken and the casting defects were eliminated. This is the reason for this alloy pressed only four passes of RD-ECAP exhibiting much higher tensile strength and much better ductility compared with the as-cast alloy as shown in Fig. 2.

As is well known, the strength depends on both the grain size and the state of the second phase in the alloy, e.g., size and morphology. During T6 treatment, very ne precipitates such as CuAl2 and Mg2 Si were formed within the aluminum grains in the Al11 mass% Si alloy. Hence, the increase in strength by T6 treatment is explicable in terms of the Orowan bypass mechanism [27]. In contrast, ne-grained microstructure was obtained in the RD-ECAPed Al11 mass% Si alloy as shown in Fig. 6, where (a), (b) and (c) show the transmission electron micrographs of these samples processed 4, 8 and 16 passes, respectively; (d) shows that of the sample pressed 16 passes after T6 treatment. These samples were cut from the longitudinal sections of the billets. The grain or grain fragment size after over four passes is around 300 nm. Therefore, the particle size of the second phase such as CuAl2 , Mg2 Si, etc. is as large as that of the grain of the aluminum matrix in the RDECAPed samples. Because of this, the Orowan bypass mechanism does not act during tensile testing in the RD-ECAPed sample. On the other hand, due to the morphological change of the eutectic silicon to be round particles during T6 treatment as shown in Fig. 5, these samples processed by T6 treatment followed RD-ECAP exhibit higher ductility than the samples processed only by RD-ECAP without T6 treatment.

Fig. 6. Transmission electron micrographs of the RD-ECAPed samples: where (ac) were pressed 4, 8 and 16 passes, respectively; (d) was pressed 16 passes after T6 treatment.

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Fig. 7. Scanning electron micrographs of the specimen surfaces after tensile testing: (a) as-cast alloy, (b) cast alloy with T6 treatment, (c and d) were pressed by RD-ECAP for 4 and 32 passes, respectively.

According to the Hall-Petch rule [14], the RD-ECAPed Al11 mass% Si alloy having such ne grains should exhibit high strength. The experimental results, however, were out of the Hall-Petch rule. Moreover, the strength, particularly the yield strength, decreased gradually as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased up to 16. The reason should also be related to the microstructure change of this alloy during RD-ECAP. As mentioned above, the grain or grain fragment size of the Al11 mass% Si alloy is about 300 nm after four passes, and it does not noticeably decrease with an increased number of RD-ECAP passes. On the other hand, the misorientation angles of grain boundaries were markedly modied during ECAP [28,29]. In the Al11 mass% Si alloy, the result of electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) shows that the fraction of the high angle boundaries with > 15 of the aluminum alloy matrix was 65 and 73% for the samples pressed 8 and 16 passes at 623K by RD-ECAP, respectively [23]. It is believed that the high angle boundaries after ECAP are advantageous for plastic deformation [30]. Because of the high fraction of the high angle boundaries in the RDECAPed samples, the stress concentration around the particles of silicon, etc. during tensile testing can be dropped through grain boundary sliding (GBS). This can be used to explain why the RD-ECAPed sample has less broken particles compared to the un-pressed but T6 heat-treated sample in Fig. 5. Surface observations for the tested specimens by SEM are usually used for getting the tracks of the grain boundary sliding [31]. Fig. 7 shows the scanning electron micrographs

of the specimen surfaces near the fracture surfaces, where (a)(d) are as-cast, cast alloy with T6 treatment, the samples pressed 4 and 32 passes by RD-ECAP, respectively. The tensile direction was parallel to the horizontal line in the picture. As shown in Fig. 7(a) and (b), there are large cracks in the cast alloy specimens. These cracks are almost vertical to the tensile direction. In contrast, the tracks of the grain boundary sliding (GBS) appeared clearly in Fig. 7(c) and (d). In addition, with increasing the number of RD-ECAP passes from 4 to 32, the tracks of GBS became ne. These micrographs demonstrated that the grain boundary sliding occurred during tensile testing in the RD-ECAPed samples at room temperature.

5. Conclusions Tensile properties of a cast Al11 mass% Si alloy processed by rotary-die equal-channel angular pressing (RDECAP) with 432 passes were investigated at room temperature. The following conclusions were obtained. (1) Elongation to failure signicantly increased as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased from 4 to 32. The sample pressed 32 passes has 10 times higher elongation (15%) than the as-cast alloy (1.5%). The cast Al11 mass% Si alloy was transformed into a ductile aluminum alloy by RD-ECAP.

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(2) Tensile strength, particularly the yield strength, noticeably increased by rst four passes of RD-ECAP (about 40%). Then the yield strength decreased gradually about 20% as the number of RD-ECAP passes increased up to 16 passes. (3) T6 treatment before RD-ECAP is not effective for improving the tensile strength, but useful for the improvement of plasticity of the Al11 mass% Si alloy. (4) Fine-grained microstructure of the aluminum alloy matrix (about 300 nm) and modied grain boundaries after RD-ECAP is the primary reason for exhibiting signicant ductility of this alloy. Grain boundary sliding (GBS) occurred at the room temperature tensile testing in the RD-ECAPed sample. Acknowledgement Aibin Ma gratefully acknowledges the nancial support of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). References
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