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Title: Continuous Severe Plastic Deformation Processing of Aluminum Alloys

Metals with grain sizes smaller than 1-micrometer have received much attention in the past decade. These materials have been classified as ultra fine grain (UFG) materials (grain sizes in the range of 100 to 1000-nm) and nano-materials (grain size <100-nm) depending on the grain size. This report addresses the production of bulk UFG metals through the use of severe plastic deformation processing, and their subsequent use as stock material for further thermomechanical processing, such as forging. A number of severe plastic deformation (SPD) methods for producing bulk UFG metals have been developed since the early 1990s. The most promising of these processes for producing large size stock that is suitable for forging is the equal channel angular extrusion or pressing (ECAE/P) process. This process involves introducing large shear strain in the work-piece by pushing it through a die that consists of two channels with the same cross-sectional shape that meet at an angle to each other. Since the cross-sections of the two channels are the same, the extruded product can be re-inserted into the entrance channel and pushed again through the die. Repeated extrusion through the ECAE/P die accumulates sufficient strain to breakdown the microstructure and produce ultra fine grainmore » size. It is well known that metals with very fine grain sizes (< 10-micrometer) have higher strain rate sensitivity and greater elongation to failure at elevated temperature, exhibiting superplastic behavior. However, this superplastic behavior is usually manifest at high temperature (> half the melting temperature on the absolute scale) and very low strain rates (< 0.0001/s). UFG metals have been shown to exhibit superplastic characteristics at lower temperature and higher strain rates, making this phenomenon more practical for manufacturing. This enables part unitization and forging more complex and net shape parts. Laboratory studies have shown that this is particularly true for UFG metals produced by SPD techniques. This combination of properties makes UFG metals produced by SPD very attractive as machining, forging or extrusion stock, both from the point of view of formability as well as energy and cost saving. However, prior to this work there had been no attempt to transfer these potential benefits observed in the laboratory scale to industrial shop floor. The primary reason for this was that the laboratory scale studies had been conducted to develop a scientific understanding of the processes that result in grain refinement during SPD. Samples that had been prepared in the laboratory scale were typically only about 10-mm diameter and 50-mm long (about 0.5-inch diameter and 2-inches long). The thrust of this project was three-fold: (i) to show that the ECAE/P process can be scaled up to produce long samples, i.e., a continuous severe plastic deformation (CSPD) process, (ii) show the process can be scaled up to produce large cross section samples that could be used as forging stock, and (iii) use the large cross-section samples to produce industrial size forgings and demonstrate the potential energy and cost savings that can be realized if SPD processed stock is adopted by the forging industry. Aluminum alloy AA-6061 was chosen to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach used. The CSPD process developed using the principles of chamber-less extrusion and drawing, and was demonstrated using rolling and wire drawing equipment that was available at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In a parallel effort, ECAE/P dies were developed for producing 100-mm square cross section SPD billets for subsequent forging. This work was carried out at Intercontinental Manufacturing Co. (IMCO), Garland TX. Forging studies conducted with the ECAE/P billets showed that many of the potential benefits of using UFG material can be realized. In particular, the material yield can be increased, and the amount of material that is lost as scrap can be reduced by as much as 50%. Forging temperatures can also be reduced by over 150ºC, resulting in energy savings in the operation of billet heating furnaces. Looking at only the energy required to make forgings from stock materials, estimated energy savings associated with reduced scrap and lower furnace operating temperatures were greater than 40% if ECAE/P stock material was used instead of conventionally extruded stock. Subsequent heat treatment of the forged materials to the T6 condition showed that the mechanical properties of parts made from the ECAE/P stock material were the same as of those made from conventional extruded stock material. Therefore, the energy and cost savings benefits can be realized by the use SPD processed material as forging stock without sacrificing properties in the final part.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US200719%%296
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Wright State University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE)
Country of Publication:
United States