Characterization of the Density and Spatial Distribution of Dispersoids in Al-Mg-Si Alloys
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMetals. 2019, 9 (26), . 10.3390/met9010026
Al-Mg-Si alloys often contain small additions of, for example, Mn or Cr, to form dispersoids, which may act as nucleation sites for Mg2Si particles after homogenization. The purpose of adding Mn and Cr is to ensure a high density of uniformly distributed small β’-particles, which can be dissolved during further processing prior to the final age hardening step. However, their density and spatial distribution are critically dependent on the homogenization procedure. It is therefore important to have a robust and reliable method for assessing their spatial distribution. In the present work, an existing methodology for assessing spatial uniformity, the Global Shannon Entropy (GSE), was implemented and evaluated for different dispersoid structures characterized by scanning electron microscopy. This metric is highly dependent on the parameters used, but by careful selection of adequate parameters, it can be effective in detecting non-uniformity. An important weakness with the GSE was identified, and a modification to improve on the ability to differentiate degrees of non-uniformity is suggested. To evaluate the proposed methodology, the effect of heating rate on dispersoid precipitation behaviour during homogenisation of four Al-Mg-Si alloys with different Mn/Cr-content was investigated. In general, the dispersoid density increased with decreasing heating rates as longer times in the furnace resulted in particle coarsening. Slower heating rates were found to promote a more uniform dispersoid structure for most alloys investigated in this study. The metric with the new term demonstrated promising results, and improved the ability to differentiate degrees of spatial uniformity.