A study of the influence of precipitate free zones on the strain localization and failure of the aluminium alloy AA7075-T651
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPhilosophical Magazine. 2015, 95 (28-30), 3278-3304. 10.1080/14786435.2015.1040099
Age-hardened aluminium alloys have various degrees of precipitate-free zones (PFZs) along grain boundaries (GBs). The PFZs are weak zones and their existence promotes combined transgranular and intergranular fracture, thus reducing the ductility of the alloy. In this study, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is used to display the geometrical properties and the chemical composition of the PFZs in the AA7075-T651 aluminium alloy. PFZs are found along grain and sub-GBs and their widths are about 40 and 20 nm, respectively. The PFZs are depleted of alloying elements compared with the nominal composition due to GB precipitation, but still they contain a certain amount of such elements in solid solution which will contribute to increase the yield strength and the work hardening compared to pure aluminium. Based on the results from the TEM study, a micromechanical finite element model of an idealized microstructure including grains and soft zones along the GBs is established. The Gurson model was used to represent the behaviour of the material in the grains and in the soft zones, using different initial void volume fractions to account for GB precipitation. Several loading conditions were applied to the micromechanical model in order to evaluate the localization of strains inside the soft zones and thus to get a better understanding of the role of the PFZs in ductile fracture of age-hardened aluminium alloys. It was found that the global failure strain varies non-monotonically with the global stress triaxiality due to the heterogeneity of the idealized microstructure.