You are on page 1of 7

Available online at www.sciencedirect.

com

ScienceDirect
Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682

12th GLOBAL CONGRESS ON MANUFACTURING AND MANAGEMENT, GCMM 2014

The Effect of Heat Treatment and Aging Process on Microstructure


and Mechanical Properties of A356 Aluminium Alloy Sections in
Casting
K.T. Akhila,*, SanjiviArulb, R.Sellamuthuc
a
PG Scholar,Dept. of Mech. Engg., Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham,Coimbatore-641112-India,akhilkt9@gmail.com
b
Assoc. Professor,Dept. of Mech. Engg., Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham,Coimbatore-641112-India,s_arul@cb.amrita.edu
c
Professor,Dept. of Mech. Engg., Amrita VishwaVidyapeetham,Coimbatore-641112-India,r_sellamuthu@cb.amrita.edu

Abstract

Aluminium A356 alloy is widely used at automobile and aircraft industries in the form of cast component with varying section
size. This study investigates how the microstructure and mechanical properties of different section size vary before and after heat
treatment and aging processes. Aluminium ingot is melted using a furnace and poured in to the mold having mold cavities of
varying dimensions. Cast components are heat treated as per ASTM standard B917-01 at a temperature of 537°C for 12 hours
followed by a temperature of 155º for 5 hours. In order to investigate the effect of heat treatment and aging processes
microstructure and mechanical properties such as impact strength, hardness, and tensile strength were analysed as-cast condition
and after heat treatment and aging process.

©©2014
2014TheThe Authors.
Authors. Published
Published by Elsevier
by Elsevier Ltd.
Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of GCMM 2014.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of GCMM 2014

Keywords:Aluminium A356 alloy, microstructure, impact strength, hardness, tensile strength, metal casting, heat treatment, and aging.

1. Introduction

Cast A356 aluminum alloy is widely used in automotive and aircraft industries because of their excellent
properties like high strength to weight ratio, low density, high corrosion rates etc. This increased use of A356
aluminum alloy leads to a need for deeper understanding of their mechanical properties and the impacts of

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+91 9496285256.


E-mail address:akhilkt9@gmail.com

1877-7058 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of GCMM 2014
doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2014.12.318
K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682 1677

processing factors [1-2, 4]. The mechanical properties can determine by controlling the microstructures of the alloys.
For designing any part we should have a thorough understanding of solidifications at different cross sections of the
cast part and its influence on the mechanical properties [5-6, 3].Most applications of A356 alloy dependent on
mechanical properties, so the performance of this alloy has been the subject of many micro-mechanical
investigations. Mechanical properties were improved with grain refinement. Since the mechanical properties are
mainly dependent on their microstructure, a lot of efforts have been done for refining microstructure of casting to
improve the mechanical properties of aluminum alloy A356. Refinement can achieve by using power ultrasound and
electromagnetic stirring and equal channel angular pressing, or accumulative roll bonding. As-cast A356 alloys are
made up of coarse primary α-Al dendrites and acicular-shaped eutectic silicon, which lowers the mechanical
properties and limits its industry application. Heat treatment and aging are important to homogenize α-Al dendrites
in aluminum alloys so we can achieve better mechanical properties. Cooling rate of mold is measured by introducing
a thermocouple inside the mold [7-8]. Heat treatment and aging processes are the most important processes
determining casting microstructure and mechanical properties [1- 2, 11- 12]. As-cast A356 alloys are made up of
coarse primary α-Al dendrites and acicular-shaped eutectic silicon, which lowers the mechanical properties and
limits its industry application. The mechanical properties can determine by controlling the microstructures of the
alloys [9-10]. Heat treatment and aging are important processes to homogenize α-Al dendrites in aluminium alloys
[11].

2. Experimental method

Experimental apparatus consisting of four green sand molds with mold cavities of 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, 80
mm diameters (section sizes). A356 aluminum alloy is melted using muffle furnace and poured to the molds.
Thermocouple tip is placed 1mm apart from mold cavity in order to avoid damage of contact tip and temperature is
monitored till there is a decrease in temperature after an initial increment. Temperature is measured using a K type
thermocouple. Temperature-Time graph were plotted for all experiments and cooling rate for each sections were
measured. Cast specimens were heat treated to ASTM standard B917-01 at a temperature of 537°C for 12 hours and
followed by an aging of 5 hours.

3. Testing

In order to investigate the effect of heat treatment and aging process on microstructure and mechanical
properties, impact strength, hardness and tensile strength were measured for as-cast condition, heat treated and aged
condition. Specimens were prepared for microstructural analysis by polishing on disc polisher followed etching with
diluted hydrofluoric acid. Microstructural analysis was performed by an inverted metallurgical microscope and the
microstructures were compared. Average grain size is measured using Metal Vision software. Cast specimens were
machined to ASTM standard E23-12C, 10 mm*10 mm*75 mm for Izod test and 10 mm*10 mm*55 mm for Charpy
test. Using an impact testing machine model IT30 both impact tests Izod test and Charpy test were performed for as
cast condition and heat treated and aged condition. Cast specimens were machined to ASTM standard E8M with a
gauge length of 45mm and gauge diameter of 9mm for tensile test. Tensile test were performed on universal tensile
testing equipment and ultimate tensile stress value for as-cast condition and after heat treated and aged condition
were compared. Hardness test were performed with Vickers hardness tester by applying a load of 100kgf for 20
second both as cast condition and after heat treated condition. All tests were repeated 5 times in both as-cast and
aged and heat treated condition.

4. Results and discussion

4.1. Effect of section size on cooling rate

Fig. 1 shows cooling curves of cast specimens of varying section size. Time taken to decrease in temperature for
20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm, sections were 15 minutes, 22 minutes, 27 minutes, 31 minutes respectively.
Cooling rates are measured from the graph and found to be 4 0C/minute, 30C/minute, 20C/minute and 10C/minute for
1678 K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682

20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, and 80 mm sections respectively. From the graph it is found that increasing the section size
lead to reduction of cooling rate or increase in solidification time.

Fig. 1. Cooling Curves of cast components with varying section size

4.2. Microstructure evaluation

(a) (b)

(b) (d)
Fig. 2. Change in microstructureof as cast specimens with variation in section size (Magnification 200X)

(a) 20 mm, (b) 40 mm, (c) 60 mm, (d) 80 mm

Fig. 2 shows change in microstructure of as-cast specimens with variation in section size and Fig 3 shows
changes in microstructure of heat treated and aged cast specimens. As-cast condition microstructure is found fine for
small section size and coarse for large section size this is due to grain refinement of smaller section size caused by
fast cooling rate. Microstructure is found much refined and uniform in all section size for heat treated and aged
condition. Fig. 4 shows as-cast, heat treated and aged conditions Grain size variation with section size. As-cast
condition average grain size was found to be 0.82 microns, 0.94 microns, 1.4 microns, 1.8 microns for 20 mm, 40
K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682 1679

mm, 60 mm, 80 mm sections respectively. It shows an increase in average grain size with increasing section size due
to reduction in cooling rate. Average grain size for heat treated and aged condition was found to be 0.52 microns,
0.59 microns, 0.56 microns, 0.58 microns for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm sections respectively. At heat treated
and aged condition average grain size is much less compared to as-cast condition but it is almost constant with
variation in section size.

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Fig. 3. Changes in microstructure of heat treated and aged cast specimens with variation in section size (Magnification 200X)

(a) 20 mm, (b) 40 mm, (c) 60 mm, (d) 80 mm

Fig.4. Variation in Grain size with section size.


1680 K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682

4.3. Impact test evaluation

Fig. 5 shows as-cast, heat treated and aged conditions impact strength variation with section size. As-cast
condition impact strength in Charpy test is found 67.42 KJ/m2, 60.22KJ/m2, 55.43KJ/m2, 48.31 KJ/m2 for 20 mm, 40
mm, 60 mm, 80 mm size having sections and Impact strength in Izod test is found 69.61 KJ/m 2, 62.28 KJ/m2, 54.96
KJ/m2, 47.63 KJ/m2 for the same section respectively. It indicates that as-cast condition impact strength increase
with reduction in section size. This is due to grain refinement in smaller section size caused by fast cooling rate.
Heat treated and aged condition impact strength in Charpy test is found 114.0 KJ/m2, 109.0 KJ/m2, 111.57 KJ/m2,
116.5 KJ/m2 for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm size having sections and Impact strength in Izod test is found 113.5
KJ/m2, 109.8 KJ/m2, 113.5 KJ/m2, 106.12 KJ/m2for the same section respectively. Impact strength at heat treated
and aged conditions were improved comparing as cast condition but it is almost constant with variation in section
size. This is due to much higher grain refinement in heat treated and aged condition irrespective to section size.

Fig. 5 Variation in Impact strength with section size

4.4. Tensile test evaluation

Fig. 6 shows as-cast, heat treated and aged conditions Ultimate Tensile Stress of all cast sections. As-cast
condition Ultimate Tensile Stress is found 145.4 MPa, 142.9 MPa, 70.4 MPa, 60.1 MPa for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm,
80 mm size sections respectively. It is found that as-cast condition Ultimate Tensile Stress is increased with
reduction in cast component section size. This is due to grain refinement in smaller section size caused by fast
cooling rate. Heat treated and aged condition Ultimate Tensile Stress is found 263.5 MPa, 269.3 MPa, 265.2 MPa,
258.1 MPa for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm size sections respectively. Ultimate tensile strength at heat treated
and aged condition was improved compared to as-cast condition but it is almost constant with variation in section
size. This is due to much higher grain refinement in heat treated and aged condition irrespective to section size.
K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682 1681

Fig.6. Variation in Ultimate tensile stress with section size

4.5. Hardness test evaluation

Fig. 7 shows as-cast, heat treated and aged conditions hardness of all sections. As-cast condition Micro hardness
is found 82.6 HV, 78.3 HV, 75.2 HV, 70.4 HV for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, and 80mm size having sections
respectively. It indicates that Micro hardness of as-cast components increases as section size decreases. This is due
to grain refinement in smaller section size caused by fast cooling rate. Heat treated and aged condition hardness is
found 112.6 HV, 122.6 HV, 117.5 HV, 114.2 HV for 20 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, and 80 mm size having sections
respectively. Heat treated and aged condition hardness was improved compared to as-cast condition but it is almost
constant with variation in section size. This is due to much higher grain refinement in heat treated and aged
condition irrespective to section size.

Fig. 7. Variation in Hardness with section size


1682 K.T. Akhil et al. / Procedia Engineering 97 (2014) 1676 – 1682

5. Conclusion

As-cast condition Mechanical properties such as impact strength from 48.31 KJ/m2 to 67.42 KJ/m2, Ultimate
Tensile Stress from 60.1 MPa to 145.4 MPa, Hardness from 70.4 HV to 82.6 HV were increased with decreasing
section size from 80 mm to 20 mm due to grain refinement. Heat treated and aged condition mechanical properties
such as impact strength, ultimate tensile stress, hardness were further improved but it is almost constant with
variation in section size. This is due to further grain refinement in heat treated and aged sections irrespective to
section size.

References

[1] H. Abu EI-Aini, K. Mohamed, Y. Hassan Mohammed, Effect of mold types and cooling rate on mechanical properties of Al alloy 6061 within
ceramic additives, The 2nd International conference on Energy engineering, ICEE-2, ( 2010) 27-29.
[2]G. Mrwka–Nowotnik, J. Sieniawski, M. Wierzbiska, Analysis of intermetallic particles In AlSi1MgMn aluminium alloy, J of Achievements in
Materials and Mfg Engg, 20 (2007)155-158.
[3] A. Boschetto, G. Costanza, F. Quadrini, M. E. Tata, Cooling rate inference in aluminium alloy squeeze casting, Materials Letters, 6 (2007)
2969-2972.
[4] Z. Li, M. Samuel, F. Samuel, C. Ravindran, S. Valtierra, H.W.Doty, Parameters controlling the performance of AA319-type alloy, Materials
Science and Engineering, 367( 2004) 96-110.
[5] S. G. Shabestari, H. Moemeni, Effect of copper and solidification conditions on the microstructure and mechanical properties of Al–Si–Mg
alloys, Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 153-154 (2004) 193-198.
[6] J. H. Lee, H.S. Kim, C. W. Won, B. Cantor, Materials Science & Engineering. A, Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructure and
Processing, 338 (2002) 182–190.
[7] C. H. Caceres, C. J. Davidson, R. Griffiths, The deformation and fracture behaviour of an Al–Si–Mg casting alloy, Materials Science and
Engineering, 197 (1995) 171–179.
[8] P. S. Mohanty, J. E. Gruzleski, Grain refinement mechanisms of hypoeutectic Al–Si alloys, Acta Mater, 44 (1996) 3749–60.
[9] S. A. Kori, B. S. Murty, M. Chakraborty, Preparation and characterization of Al–B and B-rich Al–Ti–B master alloys for the grain refinement
of Al–7Si alloy AFS Trans 109 (2001) 267–86.
[10] D. L. Zhang, L. Zheng, The quench sensitivity of cast Al–7 wt.%Si–0.4 wt.%Mg alloy. Metall Mater Trans, 27 (1996), 3983–91.
[11]E. Ogris, A. Wahlen, Luchinger, P. J. Uggowitzer, On the silicon spheroidization in Al–Si alloys. J Light Metals, 2 (2002) 263–9.