The Influence of Microstructural Components on the Formability of Aluminium Alloy Sheets

Abstract : Due to the increased demand for light weighting in automotive vehicles, solutions need to be created to allow automotive manufacturers to switch from highly formable but heavy steels to less formable but lighter aluminium alloys for body-in-white components; doors, roofs, hood. The 6xxx-series of aluminium alloys, based on the system of Al-Mg-Si-Cu, have shown promise for providing adequate strength and corrosion resistance but still, in the current state, one of their main limitations concerns their formability. This thesis aims to understand the effect of Si, Mg, and Cu additions under two different processing routes on the mechanical and formability properties of the AA6xxx-series. Differential scanning calorimetry and hardness testing are used to identify the effects of solute additions on the cluster states after natural ageing and pre-ageing. Tensile testing is used to capture the main mechanical properties: yield strength, tensile strength, strain hardening rate, and uniform elongation. Strain rate sensitivity testing is performed using dynamic strain rate changes to obtain not only the strain rate sensitivity due to rate-change increases (termed up-change), but uniquely, the strain rate sensitivity for rate-change decreases (termed down-change). Finally, using constitutive equations, the mechanical properties are used in combination with finite element modeling to capture the evolution of the strain and strain rate distribution in the evolution and transition of diffuse to local necking. It was found that in the case of natural ageing for one month (NA1m) two cluster types were detected, a less thermally stable species having a high dependency on the Cu and Mg contents, and a more thermally stable species being equally sensitive to all solute species. When samples were first pre-aged, then allowed to naturally age for one month (sNA1m) only the more thermally stable cluster species being equally sensitive to all solute additions existed. The formation of these different cluster types dependent on the heat treatment translated into the effects of specific solute additions on the observed mechanical properties. In the NA1m condition, the effects of Cu and Mg additions to the alloy showed the largest increases on the yield strength and strain hardening rate, as compared to Si additions. This is in contrast to the sNA1m condition whereby Cu, Mg, and Si additions all increased the yield strength equally while Cu additions proved to have the strongest effect on increasing the strain hardening rate, followed by the effect of Si additions, while Mg additions did not have an effect. From the strain rate sensitivity tests, an asymmetry between the up-change and down-change tests was observed whereby the down-change strain rate sensitivity was found to be larger than the up-change strain rate sensitivity. Additionally, Si additions were found to increase both the up-change and down-change strain rate sensitivity in both the NA1m and sNA1m conditions. Finally, the application of these mechanical properties to the onset and evolution of the diffuse and local neck demonstrated that increasing the strain hardening exponent delays the onset of diffuse necking, while increasing both the up-change and down-change strain rate sensitivities provides a more uniform strain and strain rate distribution around the neck, permitting the stabilization and propagation of the neck and delaying the onset of local necking. The effect of the up-change strain rate sensitivity was found to be more important than the down-change due to the intensity of the strain rate increase in the interior of the neck occurring over a much smaller area.
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Michael Langille. The Influence of Microstructural Components on the Formability of Aluminium Alloy Sheets. Mechanics of materials [physics.class-ph]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019GREAI034⟩. ⟨tel-02284938⟩

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