Optimization of the Strength-Fracture Toughness Relation in Particulate-Reinforced Aluminum Composites via Control of the Matrix Microstructure
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The evolution of the microstructure and mechanical properties of a 17.5 vol. pct SiC particulatereinforced aluminum alloy 6092-matrix composite has been studied as a function of postfabrication processing and heat treatment. It is demonstrated that, by the control of particulate distribution, matrix grain, and substructure and of the matrix precipitate state, the strength-toughness combination in the composite can be optimized over a wide range of properties, without resorting to unstable, underaged (UA) matrix microstructures, which are usually deemed necessary to produce a higher fracture toughness than that displayed in the peak-aged condition. Further, it is demonstrated that, following an appropriate combination of thermomechanical processing and unconventional heat treatment, the composite may possess better stiffness, strength, and fracture toughness than a similar unreinforced alloy. In the high- and low-strength matrix microstructural conditions, the matrix grain and substructure were found to play a substantial role in determining fracture properties. However, in the intermediate- strength regime, properties appeared to be optimizable by the utilization of heat treatments only. These observations are rationalized on the basis of current understanding of the grain size dependence of fracture toughness and the detailed microstructural features resulting from thermomechanical treatments.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11661-998-0119-9
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