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Aluminium and its alloys

EF420 Lecture 11
John Taylor

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Features

Large growth in use since 1950 (6 times)


Abundant metal - 8% of earths crust
Light weight SG = 2.7
Moderate to high strength (depending on alloy)
Conductivity high (pure metal & low alloys)
Corrosion resistant (Al2O3 coating)
Reflectivity high
Non-magnetic

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Extraction
Al2O3 obtained from bauxite by the Bayer
process
Al2O3 reduced electrolytically by the HallHeroult process to make aluminium

The large energy requirement for this process is


the major proportion of the cost of aluminium,
even with cheap energy sources.

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Fabrication
Ductile metal easily fabricated by rolling and
extrusion

Commercially pure metal can undertake a cold


reduction of 80 - 90% without annealing
Anneal at 350C

Machineability is good, but limited by the


tendency to gall

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Aluminium products
Cast alloys
Wrought products

Sheet, plate, foil


Rod, bar, wire, tube
Standard and special extruded shapes
Forgings, impacts (combined extrusion and
forging)

Powder metallurgy (dispersion strengthened)


products
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Structural applications
Static building structures AS1664 series
Scaffolding and ladders
Transportation

Aerospace, road (trucks, buses, trailers), railway

Machinery and industrial equipment

Non-sparking tools, roofs to tanks, chemical process


vessels, jigs, patterns, instruments

Consumer durables

Structure of appliances: refrigerators, furniture, cooking


utensils

Thermal and electrical


Electrical

Pure Al has 200% of the conductivity of copper


weight for weight
Conductors, heat sinks, capacitors, wave guides,
antennas

Reflectors

Mirrors, search lights, loft insulation

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Miscellaneous applications
Packaging

Drink cans, foil, hermetically sealed packs

Powders and pastes

Reflective paint, printing inks, pyrotechnics, thermit


welding

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Limits of use
Temperature range of -240C to +200C for
normal alloys
Up to 350C for special alloys
Up to 480C for short periods for dispersion
strengthened alloys
Low modulus of elasticity, requires stiffening
Inferior wear, creep, & fatigue properties to
steel
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Aluminium alloy designations


Aluminum Association (USA) and adopted in
Australian standards
Alloy designation systems for wrought
products and cast alloys
UNS numbers - A followed by AA number
Temper designation system for wrought
products
Some proprietary alloys
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Wrought alloy designations


Alloy Group

Designation

Pure aluminium (99.00% min)

1xxx

Al-Cu

2xxx

Al-Mn

3xxx

Al-Si

4xxx

Al-Mg

5xxx

Al-Mg-Si

6xxx

Al-Zn

7xxx

Al + other element

8xxx

Alloy types and properties


Strain hardened alloys (plus solid solution hardening)
Precipitation (age) hardened alloys
Dispersion strengthened alloys
Yield strength from 28 MPa for 1050-O to 455 MPa
for 2024-T815
Strength increases at low temperature
No ductile-brittle transition

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Strain hardened alloy tempers


Code

Description

-O

Annealed

-F

As fabricated (no mechanical


property limits)
Strain hardened

-H1x
-H2x
-H3x

Strain hardened and partially


annealed
Strain hardened and stabilised

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Second and third digits


x usually is a digit between 0 and 9, but may be 2
digits
If x = 8, there has been the equivalent of a 75% cold
thickness reduction after anneal
Other x numbers represent a proportional amount of
strain
A 3rd digit indicates a special variation

eg 5083-H116 indicates this material has had a special heat


treatment to reduce exfoliation attack

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Precipitation (age) hardening


T (deg C)
Liquid
L+

Solution treatment -
alloy is heated into
temperature range to
dissolve all B. Quenching
retains B in solution
(supersaturated)

Pure A

Percentage B

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Soft & ductile condition

Aging - holding solution


treated alloy at a
temperature at which fine
precipitates of are formed

Strengthened condition

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Composition effects
Alloys with low levels of B will only display a weak age
hardening effect
Alloys with a high level of , which cannot be dissolved on
solution treatment only display a weak hardening effect
Alloys with with intermediate levels of B have the highest
strengthening effect
These alloys only display a narrow temperature range for the
single phase () phase field
These alloys also have a wide solidification range, are likely to
crack during welding, and therefore have low weldability and
castability

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Age hardening alloy tempers


-O and -F tempers as above
-W: solution treated, but naturally aged
-T1 to -T10: indicates a combination of hot
work, cold work, solution treatment, and aging

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Temper designations
T1

Hot work, then naturally age

T2

T4

Hot work, cold work, then naturally


age
Solution treat, cold work, then
naturally age
Solution treat, then naturally age

T5

Hot work, then artificially age

T3

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Temper designations
T6

Solution treat and artificially age

T7

Solution treat and stabilise (over


age)
Solution treat, cold work, then
artificially age
Solution treat, artificially age, then
cold work
Hot work, cold work, then artificially
age

T8
T9
T10

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1000 Series alloys


Pure Al, can be work hardened
Corrosion performance excellent
Electrical and thermal conductivity excellent

eg 1060: 99.6%Al min. 62 IACS

Yield strength up to 145 MPa (1050-H18)


Food, chemical, heat exchangers, electrical wiring,
capacitor foil
Weldable

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2000 Series alloys


Up to 6.3% Cu
Eg 2014: 4.4Cu-0.8Si-0.8Mn-0.5Mg
Precipitation hardened

130 to 230C aging temperature - T6


RP0.2 410 MPa typical

Aircraft structure and mechanical components,


vehicle body panels
Weldability poor to fair depending on alloy

3000 Series
Up to 1.2Mn + Fe in some alloys

Eg 3004: 1.2Mn-1.0Mg

Strength from fine particles (Mn,Fe)Al6 which pin


grain boundaries
Excellent formability and weldability, very high
corrosion resistance
Work hardened up to 250 MPa yield typical

3004-H38

Cans, chemical vessels, industrial roofing, culvert


pipe
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5000 Series alloys


Mg up to 5.1% in solution increases work hardening
rate

Eg 5083: 4.4Mg-0.7Mn-0.15Cr

Work hardened up to 260 MPa yield

5083-H116: RP0.2 228 MPa typical

Excellent weldability, moderate strength,


Good corrosion resistance

5000 series alloy applications

Very popular alloys


Marine, auto and aircraft applications
Pressure vessels, cryogenics
Communication towers
Armour plate
Some alloys prone to exfoliation or stress corrosion if
Al8Mg5 forms in grain boundaries

Avoid high Mg over 65C

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6000 series
Combination of Mg and Si allows precipitation
hardening with Mg2Si precipitates
Eg 6061: 1Mg-0.6Si-0.3Cu-0.2Cr

6061-T6: RP0.2 276 MPa typical

Easily workable alloy with excellent strength,


corrosion resistance
Limited to excellent weldability (alloy dependant)
Available as sheet, plate, extrusions
Applications as 5000 series

Alclad
Many multiphase alloys have inferior corrosion
resistance
These alloys are available as Alclad sheet or
plate
This material has a thin layer of pure aluminium
roll bonded to one or both surfaces to provide
corrosion resistance
Fabrication must be undertaken so as to
maintain the integrity of this coating
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Dispersion strengthened
Precipitates resist dissolution at high temperatures
(up to 340C)
Powder metallurgy (P/M) products
SAP - sintered aluminium product (Al2O3)
Metal matrix composites
Rapid solidification (RS-P/M) hypereutectoid iron
alloys (plus other systems)
Mechanical alloying

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Dispersion strengthening
Proprietary and standard alloys
Can be welded but with some loss of properties
Aerospace applications

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Aluminium lithium
1 to 4% Lithium raises strength, raises elastic
modulus by up to 6%, lowers density by up to 4%
Strengthened by Al3Li, Al2CuMg, AL2CuLi precipitates
on aging (depending on composition)

Up to 585 MPa yield typical

Good weldability as well as high strength


Inferior toughness, ductility & stress corrosion
performance
Aerospace applications
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Fabrication

Machineability better than steel


Cold and hot workability excellent
Complex extrusion forms common
Joined by fusion and non-fusion welding, brazing,
soldering, adhesive bonding and mechanical
methods

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Cutting and machining


Plasma cutting - edges require further dressing
Shearing
Sawing

Extra clearance for chip release

Planing and milling

Power plane or rotary tungsten burrs

Filing and scraping

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Joining processes
GTAW and GMAW are the most common processes
OFW and MMAW require powerful fluxes
Resistance and pressure processes can be used for
many alloys
Brazing and soldering some application
Adhesives and mechanical fastening widely
applicable

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Weldability
Depends on welding process and alloy
composition
Varies from readily weldable (eg wrought
alloys by GTAW or GMAW) to not
recommended (eg brazing of 2014)

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Fusion welding

Tenacious oxide film


Prone to contamination by O2, N2, H2
High conductivity, low melting temperature
Slags are tenacious, corrosive
Welds tend to under match strength
Solidification cracking, particularly of many heat
treatable alloys

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GTAW technique
Power type

AC sine or square wave for cleaning action

Zirconiated tungsten electrode


Shielding gas

Argon or argon helium

High current for thicker materials

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GMAW technique
Fine electrode wire tends to suffer feeding
problems
Feeders and guns

Push type limited to thicker wires and short cables


Push-pull
Spool guns

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Metal transfer
Spray transfer

High current works in all positions

Pulsed GMAW

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Technique
Porosity

Cleanliness

Preheat

Overcome high conductivity

Weld craters

Avoid solidification cracking

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Weld filler selection

Avoidance of cracking
Tensile strength of weld
Weld ductility
Service temperature
Corrosion resistance
Colour match after anodising

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Solidification cracking
Use matching filler for strain-hardened grades

Dont mix 4000 series and 5000 series alloys (Mg2Si


eutectics formed)
Dont mix 5000 series and 2000 series alloys

Many heat treatable grades are hot short

No autogenous welding
Avoid high dilution
Medium copper grades are unweldable

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Crack sensitivity

5
6
7
Percentage Copper

5
6
7
Percentage Magnesium

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HAZ cracking
Liquation cracking can occur in the HAZ of
age hardenable grades

Keep arc energy low


Choose fillers with a low solidification temperature

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Weld metal properties


Matching weld to base material is easy for strain
hardened grades, but less easy for heat treatable
grades
Careful selection gives optimum properties

4346 filler for 6061-T6 heavy sections for highest strength


when solution treated and aged
1000 and 5000 series fillers for high ductility
Avoid filler with more than 3% Mg (5183, 5356, 5556, and
5654) for temperatures over 65C to avoid sensitisation to
SCC

HAZ properties
Heat of fusion welding causes softening of work
hardened grades

Effect is most pronounced where work hardening is highest


(H6, 7, 8 and 9 tempers)

Softening of heat treated grades can also occur

Age hardened grades (T6) have the most pronounced effect


If possible use the solution treated grade (6061-T4) and age
after welding

Effect of temper
HV 110
6061-T4, PWA
100
90

6061-T6, PWA

80

6061-T6, AW

6061-T4, AW

70
60

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15
20
Distance from fusion line mm

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Solid phase welding


Cold welding - 75% thickness reduction at lap joint
Ultrasonic welding - 1.5mm lap joints
Explosion welding - cladding and lap joints
Friction welding - Low weldability alloys and dissimilar
combinations,
Friction-stir welding

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Brazing
Restricted range of alloys

1000, 3000, 5000 with <2% Mg, 6000

Al-Si filler materials


Torch, dip, furnace or vacuum processes
Clean parts by etching
Fluxes are fluoride and chloride salts

Residues MUST be removed

Temperature control is critical

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References

AS/NZS 1734: Sheet and plate


AS/NZS 1865: Wire, rod, strip
AS/NZS 1866: Extrusions
AS/NZS 1664: Design rules
AS/NZS 1665: Welding
WTIA Technical Note 2
AWS Handbook Volume 3
ASM Handbook Volumes 3 and 6
Metals and Alloys in the Unified Numbering System: Society of
Automotive Engineers (USA)