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Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374

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Materials and Design
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/matdes

Aging behavior of a 2024 Al alloy-SiCp composite
S.M.R. Mousavi Abarghouie *, S.M. Seyed Reihani
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Azadi Ave., Tehran P.O. Box 11155-9466, Iran

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 8 September 2009
Accepted 29 November 2009
Available online 3 December 2009
Keywords:
2024 Al
Composite
Age-hardening

a b s t r a c t
In the present research work the 2024 aluminum alloy was reinforced with SiC particles via powder metallurgy method. The effect of heat treatment conditions on artificial aging kinetics was investigated. The
solution treatment of the composite sample and the unreinforced alloy was carried out at 495 °C for 1, 2
and 3 h followed by aging at 191 °C for various aging times between 1 and 10 h. The existence of SiC particles led to increasing the peak hardness of the alloy. The peak hardness of the composite sample took
place at shorter times than that of the unreinforced alloy for the samples solution treated for 2 and 3 h,
but took place at longer times for the samples solution treated for 1 h. The suitable solution treating time
was about 2 h for both the composite and the unreinforced alloy that led to the fastest aging kinetics and
the maximum hardness. At the solution treating time shorter than 2 h due to incomplete dissolution of
precipitates, the aging kinetics decelerated and the hardness values decreased. X-ray diffraction studies
indicated the presence of precipitation phases such as CuAl2 and CuMgAl2 in the composite in both asextruded and solutionized conditions. For the samples solution treated more than 2 h, hardness values
decreased due to the grain growth of matrix but no change occurred in the aging kinetics.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
In recent years, Al alloys have attracted attention of many
researchers, engineers and designers as a promising structural
material in different industries like aerospace and automotive. Special 2xxx series of Al alloys have been studied extensively because
of their high strength to weight ratio, good formability, age hardenablity and other appropriate properties. Among Al alloys, 2024 Al
has the highest hardness [1]. But some of the mechanical properties such as low wear resistance; have limited application of these
materials. Adding SiC reinforcing particles to these materials leads
to increase the wear resistance [2]. Aging treatment can significantly increase properties of some of Al alloys and their composites, especially 2xxx and 6xxx series alloys. In investigation of
age-hardening kinetics, it has been shown that the addition of
ceramic particles to age-hardenable Al alloys has different effects
on precipitation of composite compared with unreinforced alloy
[3–5]. It was proposed that the addition of reinforcing particles
accelerates the aging kinetics [6–9], on the other hand, there were
some explanations that it decreases or poses very little alteration
in the aging kinetics [10,11].
Cottu et al. [12] showed that age-hardening kinetics of
Al–Cu–Mg alloy-10 wt.% SiC fiber composite was enhanced by
the presence of the reinforcement during heat treatment. They
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +98 9133561769; fax: +98 2166165261.
E-mail address: smr.mousavi1364@gmail.com (S.M.R. Mousavi Abarghouie).
0261-3069/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.matdes.2009.11.063

explained this by the plastic deformation induced during heat
treatment due to the difference between coefficients of thermal
expansion (CTE) of matrix and reinforcement. Thomas and King
[13] stated that in powder metallurgy (PM) aluminium alloy
2124/SiCp composites, the presence of reinforcing particles facilitates the nucleation of S0 which results in the reduction of the required time to achieve peak hardness. Dutta and Bourell [14] and
Appendino et al. [15] studied 6061 aluminum alloy reinforced with
SiC particles. They showed that the precipitation sequence of the
composite was similar with that of the unreinforced 6061 alloy,
but the aging kinetics was altered. Aging was accelerated because
solute diffusivity increased as dislocation density increased too.
However, Pal et al. [16] showed that in the Al–Cu–Mg alloy composite reinforced with different percentages of SiC particles, the
presence of reinforcing particles led to decelerate age-hardening
kinetics. They attributed this behavior to lower concentration of
vacancies, inadequate dislocation density and extensive interfacial
segregation of alloying elements. Similar observations of the effect
of the ceramic particles on the aging kinetics were previously made
for Al alloys-Al2O3 composites [17,18]. Skibo et al. [19] reported
that there is not obvious difference in the age-hardening kinetics
between the 6061 Al alloy and its composite reinforced with 10
and 20 wt.% SiC aged at 175 °C. Although it is accepted that the
aging behavior depends on the type of reinforcement and its volume fraction, alloy composition, heat treatment and other processing parameters [16], it is known that there is still a lack of
information about aging behavior of Al alloys and their composites.

Microstructural characterization Fig. the aluminum matrix composite was manufactured by powder metallurgy technique. Processing Fig.% SiC composite in the as-extruded. Seyed Reihani / Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374 2369 Table 1 Chemical analysis (wt. In this process the 2024 Al powder and 20 vol. after the required temperature was reached. 1. 1 shows a SEM (SE) micrograph of 2024 Al-20 vol. and time was measured after the temperature stabilized.R. Commercial a-SiC particles with average particle size of 20 lm and density of 3.1. Materials and experimental procedure 2.% SiC composite in the asextruded. One can see the uniform distribution of SiCp arranged in the direction of extrusion (ED) at Fig. Mousavi Abarghouie.01 0. In this research. SEM micrographs of the as-extruded and solution treated samples were acquired using back-scattered electron (BSE) and secondary electron (SE) detectors. Then the pressed samples were extruded with the extrusion ratio of 16:1 after pre-heating at 495 °C for 30 min in the argon environment.5 mm/s in this experiment.S.% SiC particulates were blended in a Turbula. Mashhad. Element Cu Mg Mn Si Fe Al Chemical composition (wt. The chemical composition of microstructural features was determined by use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) of type VEGA2 TESCAN equipped with a RONTOC energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) detector.M. The cooling rate of specimens is expected to be in the range of 470–475 °C/s during the quenching. At least 5 hardness measurements were done on each sample and then averaged. The unreinforced 2024 Al alloy was produced by the same method. SEM (SE) micrograph of the 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. Some of the solution treated specimens were kept inside the freezer in the temperature about 18 °C in order to prevent the natural aging.4 0. The mixture was cold pressed into Al cans with a load of 250 MPa using a STS hydraulic press.M. The as-extruded 2024 Al alloy-20 vol.3 1. (b) EDX spectrum of a precipitate shown in the SEM image of Fig. supposing an initial decrease about 20–25 °C had happened in the interval between the exit from the furnace and quench medium. .%) 4. hardness measurements were performed using an INSTRON WOLPERT Vickers hardness tester with the load of 30 kg.1. A PHILIPS PW3710 diffractometer was used to identify the present phases in the as-extruded and solution treated composites using CuKa radiation. Iran.% SiC composite and its unreinforced alloy were solution treated at 495 °C for 1–3 h and then quenched in the cold water.% SiC composite in the as-extruded condition.2. 2. In order to investigate the aging kinetics. 2. Results and discussion 3. showing a uniform distribution of SiC particles in the extrusion direction(ED). S. (a) SEM (BSE) micrograph of the 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. The specimens were placed inside the furnace. 2a.01 Balance Considering strict importance and widespread applications of these materials. in this research the effect of heat treatment conditions and also SiC reinforcing particles on the artificial aging kinetics and behavior of a 2024 Al-SiCp composite produced by powder metallurgy technique was studied.2 g/cm3 were used as the reinforcement.%) of 2024 aluminum alloy used in this research. Other samples were subsequently artificially aged at 191 °C for various times. 3. Materials The 2024 Al alloy powder with average particle size of 80 lm was used in this research that supplied by Khorasan Powder Metallurgy CompanyÒ. The composition of this powder is given in Table 1. 2.55 0. The ram speed was 2.

2. a considerable volume fraction of precipitates has dissolved. 4b shows the SEM image of the composite sample solution treated at 495 °C for 2 h. We can propose that the enrichment of solutes like Cu and Mg at the structure shown in the SEM image of Fig. .2370 S. This can lead to reduction of alloying elements content in the matrix and will subsequently reduce the supersaturation of solute. 2b. 4b). 4a can be confirmed. The precipitates which formed during the extrusion treatment can be seen clearly. It is clear that the undissolved precipitates in the sample solution treated for 2 h (Fig. 2a shows a SEM (BSE) micrograph of the as-extruded composite sample. We can see from Fig. 3. These phases are often CuAl2 and CuMgAl2. with spectra resembling has been shown in Fig. This theory can be proved by obtaining much more remained precipitates compared with the sample solution treated for 2 h (Fig. silicon and carbon.M. the time of solution treatment (1 h) had not been sufficient for complete dissolution of precipitates because many of these precipitates have remained undissolved in the composite matrix. 3. Fig. respectively. EDX spot analyses can confirm the enrichment of solutes.% SiC composite. including Cu and Mg at the bright spots shown in the SEM image of Fig. We can suppose that the solution treating time for complete dissolution of precipitates was insufficient for the samples solution treated for 1 h. The reason of hardness changes in the unreinforced alloy is similar to the composite sample. Fig. Therefore. The typical XRD pattern of the sample solution treated at 495 °C for 1 h (Fig. the dissolution of precipitates in the sample solution treated for 2 h is much closer to its completion than that in the sample solution treated for 1 h. the aging kinetics increases. XRD pattern of the as-extruded 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. 2a. Also the Xray diffraction (XRD) pattern of this specimen (Fig. It can be seen from Fig. 6a and b that the peak hardness values have increased for both the composite and the unreinforced alloy on solution treatment for 2 h compared to Fig. Fig. 5) can confirm the existence of these remanent undissolved precipitates in the structure. It is important to note at high cooling rates (in this research about 470–475 °C). It can be seen that with increasing of the solution treating time to 2 h. It is clear that the amounts of precipitates in this condition are almost similar to those in the 2 h solution treated condition (Fig. the possibility of segregation of the solutes and the formation of the intermediate precipitates during quenching from solution treating temperature is unlikely. the aging kinetics in the composite and the unreinforced alloy accelerates (the required time for reaching the peak hardness decreases). It leads to reduce the chemical driving force for the precipitation and subsequently causes the slower aging kinetics. respectively. The brightness of these precipitates is due to higher atomic number of Cu in comparison with aluminum. 4a that there are much undissolved precipitates in the structure (the bright phases in the microstructure). In fact. 4d. Therefore. It can be seen that there is a considerable volume fraction of these precipitates in the matrix.R. Therefore the precipitates and the enrichment zones of solutes in the structure that their existence was proved are the precipitates that have existed in the structure before the heat treatment and have not been dissolved during the solution treatment. So in the samples solution treated for 2 h due to suitable solution treating time. The EDX spot analyses of this sample. Image Analysis of the samples solution treated for 1 and 2 h with the same interfaces of matrix-particles showed that the remnant precipitates in the composite matrix in the latter sample (solution treated for 2 h) equals almost one fifth of those in the former sample (solution treated for 1 h). 4b). S. These results have been shown in Fig.M. 4c shows the SEM micrograph of the composite sample solu- tion treated at 495 °C for 3 h. the lower aging kinetics of the composite sample at shorter solution treating time can be attributed to the presence of undissolved precipitates. a few undissolved precipitates (bright phases) have remained in the matrix. Fig. Seyed Reihani / Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374 the matrix structure. 6a–c shows the hardness changes of the composite and its unreinforced alloy as a function of aging time after the solution treatment at 495 °C for 1–3 h. Therefore. 4a). As can be seen. 3) can prove the existence of these precipitates as CuAl2 and CuMgAl2 phases. Mousavi Abarghouie. 4b) are much less than those in the sample solution treated for 1 h (Fig. 4a–c shows SEM (BSE) images of 2024Al alloy-20 vol. the solution treating time has a significant effect on dissolution of the precipitates.% SiCp composite in three different conditions of solution treatment at 495 °C for 1–3 h. Aging kinetics Fig. Therefore.

6a that the required time to reach the peak hardness of the unreinforced alloy and the composite is 7 and 8 h.R. (c) 3 h. (b) 2 h. respectively. This can be attributed to decrease of the undissolved precipitates and the grain growth of the matrix in 2 h solution treated condition. These thermal strains can be calculated by Eq. 4a. Because of the thermal mismatch strains. It can be seen from Fig.M. This is contrary to the expected results.S. Mousavi Abarghouie. but it decreases the hardness value (in solution treated condition with no aging treatment).% SiC composite solution treated at 495 °C for: (a) 1 h. (1) as follows [20]: eth ¼ Da DT ð1Þ where Da is the difference between the coefficients of thermal expansion of the matrix and the reinforcement and DT is the temperature changes. Frequently it is expected that the aging kinetics of composite be faster than that of the unreinforced alloy. SEM (BSE) micrograph of the 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. the increase of the solution treating time leads to more dissolution of the precipitates and will accelerate aging kinetics. (d) EDX spectrum of a precipitate shown in the SEM image of Fig. This is due to the high dislocation density at the interface of matrix-particle in the composite. those on solution treatment for 1 h. plastic deformation will take place. . When the composite is cooled from the solution treating temperature. and this produces a high density of dislocations. Therefore. Also the hardness of the composite sample and the unreinforced alloy that both were solution treated for 2 h with no aging treatment. incomplete dissolution of the precipitates leads to decrease the volume fraction of the strengthening precipitates formed during the aging in comparison with those formed during the aging treatment after solution treated for 2 h. mismatch strains occur due to difference between the coefficients of thermal expansion of the matrix and the ceramic particles (CTE2024Al = 24  106/ °C and CTESiC = 4  106/°C) [16]. S. This can be attributed to higher volume fraction of precipitates in the former (solution treated for 2 h). decreased compared to the samples solution treated for 1 h with no aging treatment. In the solution treatment condition for 1 h. So in this condition (1 h solution treated) the aging kinetics of the unreinforced alloy is faster than that of the composite.M. 4. Seyed Reihani / Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374 2371 Fig. These dislocations provide suitable sites for the heterogeneous nucleation of the second phase precipitates and subsequently lead to the acceleration of the aging kinetics.

(1). (b) 2 h. especially in the vicinity of SiC particles.2372 S. aging time for 2024Al-20 vol. Variation of hardness vs. (c) 3 h. Vf the volume fraction of reinforcement. XRD pattern of the 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. 6. Fig.R. e the thermal strain given by Eq. b the Burgers vector and t the smallest .M. 5.% SiC composite and 2024 Al alloy aged at 191 °C and solutionized at 495 °C for: (a) 1 h. S. Mousavi Abarghouie. Seyed Reihani / Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374 Fig. The density of dislocations q can be calculated as follows [20]: q¼ B Vf e b tð1  f Þ ð2Þ where B is a geometric constant that is theoretically between 4 (for reinforcement aspect ratio = 1) and 12 (for reinforcement aspect ratio = 1).% SiC composite solution treated at 495 °C for 1 h.M.

By comparison of Fig. 6b and c. in both the composite and the unreinforced alloy samples.M. it can be seen that the aging kinetics has not almost changed in solution treatment condition for 3 h compared to that in solution treatment condition for 2 h. This is due to the lower vacancy concentration in the matrix of the composite compared to that in the unreinforced alloy. which makes solutes unavailable for S0 formation. 6b and c the aging kinetics of the composite is faster than that of the unreinforced alloy. This indicates that the matrix-particle interfaces are preferential sites for segregation of the solutes and stability of the precipitates. with spectra resembling that in Fig. S. furthermore they act as paths for pipe diffusion and thus increasing the kinetics of aging [2]. Therefore. the grain size of the matrix has been increased which would cause fewer obstacles (grain boundaries) to the movement of dislocation and subsequently will decrease the hardness and the strength [22–24]. . 6a. They have attributed this behavior to higher intermetallic phases content in the composite compared to that in the unreinforced alloy and incomplete solution treatment. as it can be seen from Fig. This will lead to the lower supersaturation of solute. A lower degree of supersaturation of solute would reduce the chemical driving force for precipitation in the composite. This can be attributed to grain growth of the matrix with increasing of the solution treating time [22–24]. the solution treating time more than 2 h does not have any obvious effect on the aging kinetics for the composite and its unreinforced alloy. 7b. that the peak hardness value has decreased for the samples solution treated for 3 h. So delay in initial step of aging due to lower density of GP zones may affect the remaining steps of aging and leads to the slower aging kinetics of composite compared to that of its unreinforced alloy. Lower vacancy concentration in the composite is due to the large area of matrix-particle interfaces that acts as vacancy sinks. the lower vacancy concentration in the composite compared to that in the unreinforced alloy is responsible for retarding the formation of GP zones. This leads to lower concentration of the solutes in the matrix of the composite and causes a decrease in the degree of the solutes supersaturation. (b) EDX spectrum of the precipitates shown in the SEM image of Fig. With increasing of the solution treating time. 7a. the slower aging kinetics of the composite compared to the unreinforced alloy is probably due to the existence of many matrix-particles interfaces in the composite. which are suitable sites for segregation of the solutes and stability of the precipitates. Previously Hunt et al. In fact.M. Thus. compared to that of the samples solution treated for 2 h. From the figure it is clear that much volume fraction of the undissolved precipitates (bright phases) are located at the Al–SiC interfaces.S. However. Longer solution treating times would not accelerate aging kinetics significantly. Also it is obvious by comparison of Fig.R. 7a shows a SEM (BSE) image of the composite sample. one can say that 2 h is a critical time for solution treatment of this composite and its unreinforced alloy since the fastest aging kinetics and the maximum hardness value is obtained in this time. in this research the aging kinetics of the composite was slower than that of the unreinforced alloy according to Fig. Also EDX spot analyses. However. for the composite samples solution treated for 2 and 3 h. in solution treating times more than 2 h. solution treatment for 2 h had been a suitable time for dissolution of more precipitates. (c) The presence of SiC particles leads to the reduction in the volume fraction of Guinier–Preston (GP) zones. have confirmed the enrichment of solutes like Cu and Mg at many of the Al–SiC interfaces shown in the SEM image of Fig. (a) SEM (BSE) micrograph of the solutionized 2024 Al alloy-20 vol. 7a. The slower kinetics of aging in the Al alloys-SiC composites compared to that in their unreinforced alloys can be attributed to the following theories [16]: (a) Excessive segregation of alloying elements at the Al–SiC interfaces and presence of undissolved and coarse precipitates in the structure lead to depletion of the solute inside the matrix. In this study. Seyed Reihani / Materials and Design 31 (2010) 2368–2374 2373 Fig. the solution treating time on the grain growth and subsequently on decrease of the hardness has been more effective than that on the aging kinetics. Therefore. the time for dissolving of more precipitates is sufficient and so the effect of matrix-particles interfaces on stability of precipitates decreases. (b) Dislocation density in the composite that has a critical role for precipitation may be inadequate for accelerating the aging kinetics [16]. During the aging. This will cause a decrease in the chemical driving force for precipitation and therefore decelerates the aging kinetics. Fig. these dislocations are the suitable sites for heterogeneous nucleation of precipitates. Therefore. 7. dimension of the reinforcement. consequently.% SiC composite. [21] have reported retardation of S0 precipitation in the matrix of the composite. Therefore. although lead to growth of grains and subsequently decrease the hardness. 6b and c. Mousavi Abarghouie. It will reduce the rate of process.

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