Semi-solid Al-7Si-Mg castings – Microstructure and mechanical properties

Sammanfattning: The use of lightweight parts by the vehicle industry produces immediate benefits on the reduction of emissions because less energy is consumed during the production, service, and recycle stages of a product life cycle. Therefore, the development of processes that allow high design freedom for topology optimisation and materials with high specific strength is a great need. Semi-solid Al-7Si-Mg castings provide great potential for weight reduction, particularly in critical applications where materials such as steel and cast iron are typically used. However, critical applications have higher requirements in mechanical and fatigue properties compared to conventional aluminium castings applications. Therefore, the control of microstructure and defect formation in all steps of the semi-solidcasting process is essential to produce lightweight, reliable castings for future demands.In semi-solid aluminium casting, a slurry consisting of primary α-Al crystals dispersed in the liquid is injected into the die-cavity. In this study, the slurry preparation involved the immersion of a cylinder (so-called EEM) while rotating into a superheated alloy. This investigation showed that the α-Al crystals in the slurry are a combination of equiaxed α-Al crystals that nucleate in the thermal undercooled liquid surrounding the EEM, crystal fragments from the columnar dendrites solidified on the EEM surface and undissolved crystals from the original EEM. The addition of grain refiners has no significant effect on the size and shape of the α-Al crystals in the slurry. The dissolution of the EEM duringslurry preparation was studied using a new tag-and-trace method of α-Al crystals. Whenthe EEM disintegrates into large α-Al crystal agglomerates during slurry preparation can result in detrimental effects on the fatigue properties of SSM castings.Alloy composition, cooling rate, strontium modification, and heat treatment affect the type, size, and shape of the intermetallic phases formed in the Al-7Si-Mg castings. This study showed that high cooling rates and strontium modification are beneficial for the formation of smaller and less detrimental iron-rich intermetallic phases to mechanical and fatigue properties.The precipitation hardening response of the SSM Al-7Si-Mg castings strongly affects mechanical and fatigue properties. The results in this study showed that the 0.2% offset yield strength increases linearly with the increase of the magnesium concentration in the interior of the α-Al crystals formed during slurry preparation of SSM Al-7Si-Mg castings in the T5 and T6 conditions. Macrosegregation regions surrounded by an oxide layer were preferential sites for fatigue crack initiation in the SSM Al-7Si-Mg castings tested in this study.