Indexed on: 01 Mar '03Published on: 01 Mar '03Published in: Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A
The precipitation-hardening behavior of aluminum alloy AA6111 during artificial aging and the influence of prior natural aging on the aging behavior were investigated. The evolution of microstructure was studied using quantitative transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The evolution of the relative volume fraction of precipitates for the solution-treated alloy was determined using isothermal calorimetry and a new analysis based on the DSC technique. Quantitative TEM was also used to obtain the rate of precipitation of microscopically resolvable phases during aging at 180 °C. Three types of precipitates, i.e., unresolved Guinier-Preston (GP) zones, β″, and Q′, were found to form during aging at 180 °C. The evolution of yield strength was related to the evolution of microstructure. It was found that the high hardening rate during artificial aging for the solution-treated alloy is due to the rapid precipitation of the β″ phase. Natural aging prior to artificial aging was found to decrease the rate of precipitation of β″. The slow hardening rate for the naturally aged alloy was attributed to the slower nucleation and growth of β″ phase.