Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 18 Dec '18Published in: Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A
The effect of Cu/Mg solute combined with ultrasonic melt treatment (UST) on the microstructure and mechanical properties of a hypoeutectic Al-7Si alloy was investigated. Cu up to 4 wt pct and Mg to 1 wt pct were added to the alloy and UST was performed at about 100 °C above the liquidus temperature. UST at such a high temperature was ineffective in refining grain sizes but enhanced the microstructural homogeneity of the alloys with the refinement of α-Al secondary dendrite arm spacing (SDAS). It was found that both the grain size and the SDAS were solute sensitive: In the Al-7Si alloy with UST they insignificantly changed with Cu but decreased with an increase in Mg content. Along with the structural refinement, UST was likely to affect the solute redistribution and the subsequent formation of secondary phases (e.g., eutectic Si and Cu/Mg-rich intermetallic compounds (IMCs)). Quantitative analysis indicated that UST had significantly minimized microsegregation of Cu and Mg solutes, decreasing the amount of the IMCs finely and uniformly distributed. The underlying reason was attributed to the reduction in the size of the SDAS, which enabled the solid-state diffusion to occur more efficiently upon solidification. The most significant increase in the tensile properties was achieved for the Al-7Si-2Cu-1Mg alloy with UST where the SDAS was well refined and the grain size was the smallest among the alloys investigated. The important role of UST on the casting structure refinement and the solute distribution is discussed and the resulting mechanical properties are further explored.