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ArticleTitle

Improving High-Temperature Tensile and Low-Cycle Fatigue Behavior of Al-Si-Cu-Mg Alloys Through
Micro-additions of Ti, V, and Zr

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Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

Corresponding Author

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Czerwinski

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Frank

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CanmetMATERIALS/CanmetMATRIAUX, Natural Resourses Canada

Address

183 Longwood Road South, Room 259C, L8P 0A5, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Email

frank.czerwinski@nrcan.gc.ca

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Shaha

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S. K.

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Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

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Ryerson University

Address

350 Victoria Street, M5B 2K3, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Kasprzak

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W.

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CanmetMATERIALS/CanmetMATRIAUX, Natural Resourses Canada

Address

183 Longwood Road South, Room 259C, L8P 0A5, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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Friedman

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J.

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Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

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Ryerson University

Address

350 Victoria Street, M5B 2K3, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Chen

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D. L.

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Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

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Ryerson University

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350 Victoria Street, M5B 2K3, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Abstract

High-temperature tensile and low-cycle fatigue tests were performed to assess the influence of microadditions of Ti, V, and Zr on the improvement of the Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg (wt pct) alloy in the as-cast
condition. Addition of transition metals led to modification of microstructure where in addition to
conventional phases present in the Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg base, new thermally stable micro-sized Zr-Ti-V-rich
phases Al21.4Si4.1Ti3.5VZr3.9, Al6.7Si1.2TiZr1.8, Al2.8Si3.8V1.6Zr, and Al5.1Si35.4Ti1.6Zr5.7Fe were formed. The
tensile tests showed that with the increase in the testing temperature from 298 K to 673 K (25 C to
400 C), the yield stress and tensile strength of the present studied alloy decreased from 161 to 84 MPa and
from 261 to 102 MPa, respectively. Also, the studied alloy obtained 18, 12, and 5 pct higher tensile
strength than the alloy A356, 354 and existing Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with additions of Zr, Ti, and
Ni, respectively. The fatigue life of the studied alloy was substantially longer than those of the reference
alloys A356 and the same Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg base with minor additions of V, Zr, and Ti in the T6
condition. Fractographic analysis after tensile tests revealed that at the lower temperature up to 473 K
(200 C), the cleavage-type brittle fracture for the precipitates and ductile fracture for the matrix were
dominant while at higher temperature fully ductile-type fracture with debonding and pull-out of cracked
particles was identified. It is believed that the intermetallic precipitates containing Zr, Ti, and V improve
the alloy performance at increased temperatures.

Footnote Information

Published with permission of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada pertains to F. Czerwinski and
W. Kasprzak.
Manuscript submitted December 22, 2014.

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S.K. SHAHA, FRANK CZERWINSKI, W. KASPRZAK, J. FRIEDMAN, and D.L. CHEN

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High-temperature tensile and low-cycle fatigue tests were performed to assess the influence of
micro-additions of Ti, V, and Zr on the improvement of the Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg (wt pct) alloy in
the as-cast condition. Addition of transition metals led to modification of microstructure where
in addition to conventional phases present in the Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg base, new thermally stable
micro-sized Zr-Ti-V-rich phases Al21.4Si4.1Ti3.5VZr3.9, Al6.7Si1.2TiZr1.8, Al2.8Si3.8V1.6Zr, and
Al5.1Si35.4Ti1.6Zr5.7Fe were formed. The tensile tests showed that with the increase in the testing
temperature from 298 K to 673 K (25 C to 400 C), the yield stress and tensile strength of the
present studied alloy decreased from 161 to 84 MPa and from 261 to 102 MPa, respectively.
Also, the studied alloy obtained 18, 12, and 5 pct higher tensile strength than the alloy A356,
354 and existing Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with additions of Zr, Ti, and Ni, respectively. The
fatigue life of the studied alloy was substantially longer than those of the reference alloys A356
and the same Al-7Si-1Cu-0.5Mg base with minor additions of V, Zr, and Ti in the T6 condition.
Fractographic analysis after tensile tests revealed that at the lower temperature up to 473 K
(200 C), the cleavage-type brittle fracture for the precipitates and ductile fracture for the matrix
were dominant while at higher temperature fully ductile-type fracture with debonding and pullout of cracked particles was identified. It is believed that the intermetallic precipitates containing
Zr, Ti, and V improve the alloy performance at increased temperatures.
DOI: 10.1007/s11661-015-2880-x
The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and ASM International 2015

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INTRODUCTION

TO develop fuel-efficient vehicles, weight reduction


using light-weight materials is one of the several
strategies pursued.[13] Al and its alloys, especially AlSi-Cu-Mg grades, are light-weight metallic materials
commonly used in the automotive and aerospace industries. The major factor limiting automotive applications
of Al alloys is their thermal stability. At temperatures
exceeding 473 K (200 C), phases such as Al2Cu, Mg2Si,
and/or Al2CuMg, which maintain the alloy strength,
usually coarsen or dissolve. This results in reduced
performance, consequently limiting their practical
applications in engine blocks, cylinder heads, or heat
shields.[47] To meet the stringent industrial requirements, properties of Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloys should remain
stable up to at least 573 K (300 C).[8]
Among many ways of improving the high-temperature properties, alloying with transition metals to

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Author Proof

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Improving High-Temperature Tensile and Low-Cycle Fatigue


Behavior of Al-Si-Cu-Mg Alloys Through Micro-additions
of Ti, V, and Zr

UN

S. K. SHAHA, J. FRIEDMAN, and D.L. CHEN, are with the


Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson
University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada.
FRANK CZERWINSKI, P. Eng., Group Leader, Senior Research
Scientist and W. KASPRZAK, are with the CanmetMATERIALS/
CanmetMATERIAUX, Natural Resourses Canada, 183 Longwood
Road South, Room 259C, Hamilton, ON L8P 0A5, Canada. Contact
e-mail: frank.czerwinski@nrcan.gc.ca
Published with permission of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of
Canada pertains to F. Czerwinski and W. Kasprzak.
Manuscript submitted December 22, 2014.

form thermally stable and coarsening-resistant precipitates was found to be very promising. To achieve
this, different alloying elements such as Ni, Fe, Cr, Ti, V,
and Zr in cast Al-Si alloys were tested in the literature.[7,926] The influence of Zr and Ti additions in Al
alloys was a subject of a number of studies with major
conclusions that the morphology and type of phases
formed during either casting or heat treatment control
the high-temperature properties.[16,19] Mahmudi et al.[11]
and Sepehrband et al.[10] modified the A319 Al-Si cast
alloy with the addition of Zr and improved its tensile
strength and wear resistance. Research also showed that
V could enhance the alloy performance by forming Al3V
or Al10V.[24] Recently, Mohamed et al. and others[7,27]
showed that addition of Ni in the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy
caused a reduction in alloy strength at room temperature mainly due to a decrease in the available Cu for
precipitation strengthening through forming Al3CuNi.
In this alloy, an increase in content of the Al3CuNi and
Al9NiFe phases was responsible for some reduction in
ductility. At the same time, the presence of Fe in the AlSi-Cu-Mg alloy led to the formation of the Fe-containing b-Al5FeSi phase, which is also responsible for the
reduction of alloy ductility. Our previous studies[14,2830]
showed that addition of Ti-V-Zr in Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloys
did not give rise to any copper-containing phases with
Ti-V-Zr but rather modified the Fe-containing b-Al5FeSi phases, thereby improving the tensile/compression
strength and low cycle fatigue (LCF) strength in the T6
heat-treated condition. However, there are no studies on

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tensile properties at higher temperatures and LCF


fatigue resistance of Al-Si-Cu-Mg as-cast alloys modified with addition of Zr, Ti, and V. Thus, it is not clear
how the Zr-Ti-V-rich phases present in the as-cast state
behave during LCF at room temperature and especially
during deformation at increased temperatures.
Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate
deformation mechanisms of the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy with
addition of Zr, Ti, and V at various temperatures under
tensile loading and under LCF with different strain
amplitudes. The results are of importance since die
castings are considered as finished products and often
they are not subjected to subsequent heat treatment.

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II.

attached to the gage length. Prior to testing, each


specimen was kept in the heating chamber of the testing
machine for 10 minutes at the desired temperature. The
temperature of the heating chamber was precisely
measured in two ways; using K-type thermocouple
which was placed near the sample gripe with multi-meter
and pre-assemble the heating chamber thermocouple.
After testing, the specimens were quenched in water to
keep the same microstructure at testing temperature. As
described in Reference 32 after tensile test, the calculated true stress versus true strain graphs were plotted
using collected raw data. From the graph, 0.2 pct offset
was calculated and considered as yield stress/strength
(YS) of the materials, while maximum stress was
considered as ultimate tensile strength (UTS). The YS
and UTS values of average of at least two samples were
plotted with respect to the testing temperature.
For cyclic testing, a similar type of sub-size bar
sample was used. The samples were first polished by
SiC sand paper up to 600 grade to remove the
machining effect. The strain-controlled, pull-push-type
fatigue tests were conducted in accordance with the
ASTM: E606 standard at room temperature with a
25 mm extensometer using a computerized Instron
8801 fatigue testing machine operated by Bulehill
LCF2 software. Triangular waveform loading with a
zero mean strain (i.e., a strain ratio of Re = 1,
completely reversed strain cycle) at a constant strain
rate of 1 9 10 2 s 1 was applied during cyclic deformation tests. The cyclic frequency was varied depending on the strain amplitude to maintain a fixed strain
rate. The strain was also measured by a clip-on 25 mm
extensometer attached to the gage length. Low-cycle
fatigue tests were performed at total strain amplitudes
of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, and 0.6 pct with at least two
samples tested at each level of strain amplitude. If the
sample survived 10,000 cycles, then the strain-controlled tests were transferred to load control at a
frequency of 50 Hz using a sinusoidal waveform. The
fatigue life was considered as the number of cycles to
completely separate apart of the samples. The fracture
surfaces of the tensile and fatigue specimens were
examined via scanning electron microscope (SEM) to
identify fatigue crack initiation sites and propagation
characteristics.

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EXPERIMENTAL

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The studied alloy was prepared by melting several


master alloys of Al-Cu, Al-Si, Al-Ti, Al-Zr, and Al-V
along with pure Mg and Al. The targeted alloy
chemistry is given in Table I. First, pure Al was melted
under a protective atmosphere. During addition of
master alloys, the melt temperature was increased to
1073 K to 1123 K (800 C to 850 C) to ensure their
proper dissolution. The alloy was cast at 1013 K
(740 C) into the wedge-shaped steel mold preheated
to a temperature of 673 K (400 C). Further casting
details are explained in Reference 29. After casting,
samples were collected from the middle of the wedge
having SDAS of 25 lm. The alloy samples for metallographic investigations were prepared following a
standard metallographic technique.[29] The microstructure was examined in an unetched condition using an
optical microscope (OM) equipped with a quantitative
image analyzer (CLEMEX software), and a scanning
electron microscope (SEM) coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The deep etching
was performed using 5 pct NaOH as described in
Reference 30.

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91 A. Alloy Processing and Microstructure

114 B. Measurement of Tensile and Fatigue Properties


The extraction of samples from the wedge having
secondary dendrite arm spacing (SDAS) of 25 lm was
illustrated in our previous study.[31] The tensile testing
was performed on sub-size rectangular bar samples with
a gage length of 25 mm (or parallel length of 32 mm)
and a cross section of 6 9 6 mm2 following the ASTM:
E8M-11 standard at temperatures of 298 K (25 C)
(room temperature), 473 K, 573 K, and 673 K (200 C,
300 C, and 400 C) with a deviation of 5 C at a
strain rate of 10 3 s 1 using a computerized United
Tensile Testing machine (Model: STM, 50 kN). The
strain was measured by a clip-on 25 mm extensometer

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Table I.

III.

172

RESULTS

A. Microstructure

173

The Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy established a complex microstructure as reported in many studies. The presence
of the alloying elements Zr-Ti-V in this study led to the
development of an even more complex microstructure.
Typical OM and SEM microstructures of the studied

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Chemical Composition of Al-Si-Cu-Mg Alloy Modified with Addition of Ti, V, and Zr in wt pct

Si

Cu

Mg

Fe

Sr

Mn

Zr

Ti

Al

7.02

0.95

0.48

0.090

0.012

0.005

0.47

0.20

0.32

bal.

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alloy in the unetched and deep-etched conditions are


shown in Figure 1. The chemical composition of phases
identified using EDX point analysis along with the
literature suggestions are given in Table II. The presented chemistries are the average values of at least five
measurements for each phase. It is seen that Zr always
forms intermetallics with other transition metals (Ti and
V) and increasing the Zr content in the Zr-Ti-V-rich
phases leads to reduced content of Si and V. The
metallographic analysis revealed that the alloy
microstructure consisted of a-Al dendrites (#1),
fibrous-like modified Al-Si eutectic (#2) and eight (8)
distinct intermetallic phases as listed in Table II and
Figures 1(a) through (c). As calculated from the phase
chemistry, two types of Cu-rich phases are Al2.1Cu (#3)
and Al8.5Si2.4Cu (#4), which are generally suggested as
h-Al2Cu[7] and Al-Al2Cu-Si ternary eutectic[33] phase,
respectively. At the same time, the Mg- and Fe-rich
phases are calculated as Al7.2Si8.3Cu2Mg6.9 (#5) and
Al14Si7.1FeMg3.3 (#6) where those phases are suggested
as Q-Al5Cu2Mg8Si6 and p-Al8FeMg3Si6 phases, respectively. Similar types of phases were found in commercial
Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloys in the as-cast condition.[7,27,34,35]
The Zr-Ti-V-containing phases which are unique for
this study are also identified in the alloy microstructure.
There are two morphologies: plate and bulk shape.
Those phases are frequently noted in the alloy microstructure as seen in Figure 1(c). The calculated Zr-TiV-containing phases are Al21.4Si4.1Ti3.5VZr3.9 (#7),
Al6.7Si1.2TiZr1.8 (#8), and Al2.8Si3.8V1.6Zr (#9) which
were designated in the literature as (AlSi)3(TiVZr),
(AlSi)3(TiZr), and (AlSi)2(VZr), respectively.[7,14,27,29]
As reported in Reference 30, the Zr-Ti-V-containing
phases are thermally stable which is beneficial to
improve the alloy high-temperature performance. The
identified intermetallic phases were found most often in
interdendritic regions. As observed in Figure 1(c), the
plate-shaped Zr-Ti-V-containing phases grew not only
in interdendritic regions but also across a-Al grains and
nucleated during alloy solidification. Another valuable
modification of alloy microstructure was observed for
the Fe-containing b-Al5FeSi phase which is generally
needle-like in shape and detrimental for the alloy
strength and ductility. However, it is assumed that the
Fe-containing b-Al5FeSi phase turns into the Al5.1Si35.4Ti1.6Zr5.7Fe (#10) phase which could be described as
(AlSi)2(TiZr)Fe, as reported in References 13, 14.
Similar types of intermetallics, its formation mechanism,
and phase morphology were reported in detail in our
previous studies.[13,14,29,36]

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229 B. Mechanical Properties


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1. Alloy tensile properties


The yield strength (YS) and ultimate tensile strength
(UTS) of the modified alloy, obtained at different
temperatures at a strain rate of 10 3 s 1, are plotted in
Figure 2 and compared with Al-Si alloys 354, A356 and
the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with the addition of Ti,
Zr, and Ni. As seen in Figure 2, the testing temperature
in the range of 298 K to 673 K (25 C to 400 C) had a
strong effect on alloy strength. The YS decreased from

(c)
Fig. 1Microstructures of cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with Ti,
V, and Zr, (a) OM image, (b) SEM image, and (c) SEM image after
deep etching in BES mode.

161 to 84 MPa with the increasing testing temperature 244


from 298 K to 673 K (25 C to 400 C) (Figure 2(a)). 245
However, the YS remained about the same at ~145 MPa 246

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22.98 0.41

3.25
0.65
1.39
1.96

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4.29 0.38

4.03 1.15
13.25 1.57
11.25 0.34

V
Ti

3.13 0.81

250

Present studied alloy

200

YS, MPa

EC

52.85 4.89
17.68 1.96
17.61 2.35
4.54
0.29
1.43
0.73
0.17
1.97
1.52

El-Kady et al., 2011 [37]

150

100

0
298(25)

473(200)

573(300)

673(400)

Testing temperature, K(C)

CO

(a)

35.28
47.15
63.55
26.81
52.84
45.46
42.26
21.20
7.68

300

Mohamed et al., 2013 [27]


Present studied alloy
Mohamed et al., 2013 [27]
El-Kady et al., 2011 [37]

250

UN

UTS, MPa

a-aluminum
eutectic silicon
Al2Cu
Al-Al2Cu-Si
Al5Cu2Mg8Si6
Al8FeMg3Si6
(AlSi)3(TiVZr)
(AlSi)3(TiZr)
(AlSi)2(VZr)
(AlSi)2(TiZr)Fe
a-aluminum
eutectic silicon
Al2.1Cu
Al8.5Si2.4Cu
Al7.2Si8.3Cu2Mg6.9
Al14Si7.1FeMg3.3
Al21.4Si4.1Ti3.5VZr3.9
Al6.7Si1.2TiZr1.8
Al2.8Si3.8V1.6Zr
Al5.1Si35.4Ti1.6Zr5.7Fe
#1
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Mohamed et al., 2013 [27]

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RR

18.77
32.33
28.03
9.11
7.92
30.09
55.74

2.31
4.89
6.54
2.97
2.06
2.28
0.83
2.99
1.14

64.72 2.31

Mohamed et al., 2013 [27]

TE

7.85 1.58
23.26 0.34
11.28 1.39

28.15
38.58
25.73
29.15

Zr
Fe
Mg
Cu
Si
Al
Suggested Phase
Calculated Phase
No.

The Main Phases and Their Chemistry in wt pct Identified Using SEM/EDX in the Cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg Alloy Modified with Addition of Zr-Ti-V
Table II.

Author Proof

between 473 K and 573 K (200 C and 300 C). In


contrast, the alloy UTS decreased linearly with the
testing temperature (Figure 2(b)). It is seen that the UTS
of the alloy decreased from 262 to 102 MPa with the
increasing temperature from 298 K to 673 K (25 C to
400 C) at a strain rate of 10 3 s 1. It should be pointed
out that though the alloy modified with addition of Ti,
Zr, and V showed lower yield strength, the changing
trend in YS is lower than for the 354[7,27] and A356[37]
alloys and the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with addition
of Ti, Zr and Ni.[7,27] However, the studied alloy
achieved consistently higher UTS compared to the
published data for 354 (~12 pct), A356 (~18 pct), and
the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with addition of Ti, Zr
and Ni in the as-cast state (~5 pct) at room temperature.
In comparison with the 354 and A356 alloys and the AlSi-Cu-Mg alloy modified with addition of Ti, Zr, and
Ni, the UTS at 473 K (200 C) for the present studied
alloy improved to ~11, ~94, and 7 pct, respectively. It is
believed that the presence of the thermally stable
precipitates improved the alloy strength at higher
temperatures[7,27] which will be discussed in later
sections.

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50
0
298(25)

473(200)

573(300)

673(400)

Testing temperature, K(C)

(b)
Fig. 2A comparison of the tensile property of the studied cast
Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy with literature data obtained at different temperatures, (a) yield strength (YS) and (b) ultimate tensile strength
(UTS). Note: the testing temperature for the study of Mohamed
et al., 2013 was 463 K (190 C), instead of 473 K (200 C).

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r Ken ;

presently investigated alloy were n = 0.09 and


K = 474 MPa, similar to the reference alloy modified
with the addition of Ti in amount of 0.1 to 0.14 wt pct.
(n = 0.115 to 0.154 and K = 335 to 380 MPa)[39] and
lower than the A356-T6 alloy (n = 0.24 and
K = 1628 MPa).[40] The alloy cyclic YS was 262 MPa
which was significantly higher than the monotonic
tensile loading. It is suggested that the alloys in the
present study had a stronger hardening ability under
cyclic loading than monotonic tensile loading. Indeed,
the evaluated cyclic strain hardening exponent
(n = 0.09) was clearly smaller than the monotonic
tensile strain hardening exponent (n = 0.22). Similar
results were reported by other researchers for monotonic
and cyclic deformation of Al-Si alloys.[28,36,40]

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3. Low-cycle fatigue properties


The plot of cyclic stress amplitude and the number of
cycles to failure at different strain amplitudes during
LCF tests is shown in Figure 4(a) for the studied alloy in
the as-cast condition. Generally, with the increasing
strain and stress amplitudes, the fatigue life decreased.

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2. Stress-strain behavior
The true stress-true strain (r-e) plot of the studied
alloy in the as-cast condition tested at room temperature
is shown in Figure 3. The cyclic stress-total strain
(ra Det/2) and the cyclic stress-plastic strain
(ra Dep/2) curves of the as-cast alloy where ra is the
stress amplitude at mid-life, Det is the total strain range,
and Dep is the plastic strain range are shown in Figure 3.
The obtained results show that the as-cast sample
achieved a YS of 162 MPa, UTS of 261 MPa, and an
elongation of 3.9 pct during monotonic tension loading
as seen in Figure 3. It is evident that the studied alloy
displayed significantly higher hardening behavior during
cyclic loading compared to monotonic tensile loading. It
is also remarkable that the alloy did not show any
plastic deformation at lower strain amplitudes (0.1 to
0.2 pct). However, with the increase in strain amplitude
from 0.3 to 0.6 pct, the alloy exhibited noticeable plastic
deformation. To better quantify the strain hardening
behavior of the studied alloy, the stress-strain parameters for uniaxial loading were characterized using
the Hollomon power law,[23,36,38]
1

300
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0.40%

200

0.50%
0.60%

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100

50

1.E+1

1.E+2

1.E+3

1.E+4

1.E+5

Number of cycles, N
0.004

(a)
0.10%

0.003

0.20%
0.30%
0.40%
0.50%
0.002

a- p/2 - /2
a
t

0.30%

0.60%

0.001

350

0.20%

250

0
1.E+0

Plastic strain amplitude

400

0.10%

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RR

where Dr is the total stress range at mid-life and Dep is


the corresponding total plastic strain range, n is the
cyclic strain hardening exponent, and K is the cyclic
strength coefficient. The as-cast samples exhibited a
strain hardening exponent of 0.22 during monotonic
tensile loading. In contrast, the n and K values of the

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where r is the true stress and e is the corresponding true


strain. The strain hardening exponent n was evaluated
for the uniform plastic deformation region between YS
point and UTS point.
The stress-strain parameters for cyclic loading were
also characterized using the Hollomon power
law,[23,36,38]
 n0
Dr
Dep
K0
;
2
2
2

Stress amplitude, MPa

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Stress, MPa

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Number of cycles, N

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(b)

Strain, %
Fig. 3Stress-strain curves of cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy with addition
of Zr-Ti-V, obtained during tensile at a strain rate of 10 3 s 1 and
cyclic loading conditions at a strain rate of 10 2 s 1.

Fig. 4Plot of the low-cycle fatigue tests data of cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg


alloy with addition of Zr-Ti-V, (a) cyclic stress amplitudes vs the
number of cycles and (b) cyclic plastic strain amplitudes vs the number of cycles.

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of Zr, Ti, and V at all levels of total strain amplitudes.[28]


It should be noted that if the alloy fatigue life reached
107 cycles without failure, fatigue test was discontinued.
Hence, at the strain amplitude of 0.1 pct, the present
studied alloy passed the fatigue test, while the existing
Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with the addition of Zr, Ti,
and V failed to achieve an infinite fatigue life.
During LCF, the total strain amplitude consists of
elastic strain amplitude and plastic strain amplitude as
shown in the following relation[28,29,36]:

The hardening behavior of the alloy can be observed in


three groups: cyclically stable, initially attained hardening followed by reaching the saturation stage, and
increasing hardening until failure. At lower total strain
amplitude (0.1 pct) the cyclic stress amplitude remained
basically constant throughout the entire LCF. At higher
total strain amplitudes (0.4 to 0.6 pct), cyclic hardening
occurred from the beginning and continued up to failure
for the as-cast samples as cyclic deformation progressed.
However, at 0.2 pct total strain amplitudes, initially the
alloy showed cyclic hardening up to 1000 cycles, after
that the sample reached cyclic stability. After reaching
the saturation level, cyclic stability was observed during
cyclic deformation. The tendency toward cyclic hardening became stronger with the increasing strain amplitudes from 0.3 to 0.6 pct, as indicated by the increasing
slope in the semi-log scale diagram (Figure 4(a)). The
cyclic deformation features occurring in the present
alloy were observed to be in agreement with those
reported in References 28, 29, 40 for Al-Si alloys.
Another notable change was observed in the curves of
cyclic stress amplitude as a function of the number of
cycles at different total strain amplitudes, i.e., the values
of initial cyclic stress amplitudes increased from ~70 to
~195 MPa with the increase in total strain amplitude
from 0.1 to 0.6 pct, respectively. The alloy cyclic
hardening behavior depends on the yield strength of
the material. Cyclic hardening and plastic deformation
occurred, if the total stress amplitude is higher than the
yield strength of the alloy. At lower strain amplitude
(0.1 pct), the yield strength (161 MPa) was higher than
the maximum total stress amplitude (~70 MPa), while at
higher total strain amplitudes (0.2 to 0.6 pct), the
maximum total stress amplitude was much closer
(~125 to ~195 MPa) to the yield strength (161 MPa) of
the studied alloy. This resulted in a lack of hardening at
lower strain amplitudes of the studied alloy, while at
higher strain amplitudes the alloy underwent hardening
throughout its entire fatigue life.
Figure 4(b) shows the plastic strain amplitude as a
function of the number of cycles for the studied alloy.
The fatigue life of the alloy decreases with the increase in
total strain amplitude leading to an increase in the
plastic strain amplitude. A linear decrement of plastic
strain amplitude was observed at higher total strain
amplitudes (0.4 to 0.6 pct), while it remained almost
constant at lower total strain amplitude of 0.1 pct.
However, at lower total strain amplitudes of 0.2 to
0.3 pct, initially the alloy plastic strain amplitude
decreased followed by constant plastic strain amplitude
for the remaining fatigue life. This corresponded well to
the cyclic hardening and stability characteristics seen in
Figure 4(a) for the same total strain amplitude.
Figure 5 shows the plot of strain and the number of
cycles to failure (generally known as e-N curves) for the
studied alloy in the as-cast condition along with a
reference A356 alloy in the as-cast state. It is seen that
the fatigue life increased with the decrease in total strain
amplitudes for all the alloys. The fatigue life of the
presently developed alloy appeared slightly longer than
the A356 alloy[41] and other existing reference T6
tempered Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloys modified with additions

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Det Dee Dep

;
2
2
2

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t/2, %

RR

0.7

Elhadari et al., 2011 [28]

0.6

Elhadari et al., 2011 [28]

0.5

Elhadari et al., 2011 [28]

0.4

Azadi and Shirazabad,


2013 [41]
Present study alloy

0.3

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0.2
0.1
0.0
1E+0

1E+2

1E+4

1E+6

1E+8

Number of cycles to failure, Nf


Fig. 5Fatigue life of the cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy with addition of
Ti, V, and Zr obtained at total strain amplitudes of 0.1 to 0.6 pct in
comparison with the existing reference alloys.

Table III. Evaluated Materials Constants for LCF of the


Cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg Alloy with Addition of Ti, V, and Zr in
Different Amounts
Cyclic yield Strength, r0y (MPa)
Cyclic strain hardening exponent, n
Cyclic strength coefficient, K (MPa)
Fatigue strength coefficient, r0f (MPa)
Fatigue strength exponent, b
Fatigue ductility coefficient, e0f (pct)
Fatigue ductility exponent, c

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0.09
474
386
0.08
9.21
0.77

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where De2 t is the total elastic strain amplitude, De2 e is the


De
elastic strain amplitude and 2 p is the plastic strain
amplitude.
The fatigue parameters, Nf is the number of cycles to
failure, r0f is the fatigue strength coefficient, b is the
fatigue strength exponent, e0f is the fatigue ductility
coefficient, and c is the fatigue ductility exponent, are
described in the Basquin equation, the Coffin-Manson
equation, and the Coffin-Manson-Basquin equation in
References 29, 36. The values of the fatigue parameters
were evaluated using linear regression analysis as
described in References 29. The calculated fatigue
parameters are listed in Table III for the present studied
alloy. It is seen that the alloy had a fatigue strength
coefficient of 386 MPa and the fatigue strength exponent of 0.08. Also, the alloy showed a fatigue ductility

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(a)

#m

#p
#m

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#m

#p

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1. Analysis of fracture surfaces after tensile tests


The overview of specimens of the studied alloy
fractured after tension tests at temperatures of 298 K,
473 K, 573 K, and 673 K (25 C, 200 C, 300 C, and
400 C) is depicted in Figure 6. Generally, the ductile
fracture occurred by formation, accumulation, and
growth of voids due to cracking of the second-phase
precipitates. The voids were formed by raising the
interfacial stress which in turn resulted in the breaking
of the interfacial bonds, due to critical stress, between
the precipitate and the ductile matrix. An alternative
mechanism is an initiation of cracks within hard
precipitates. However, casting defects, especially internal pores, dry oxide, or shrinkage etc., act as preferable
sites for crack nucleation as well.

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426 C. Fractography

The fractographic observations revealed that the


fracture characteristics were changed from mixed mode
to ductile fracture with the increase in testing temperature from 298 K to 673 K (25 C to 400 C)
(Figures 7 and 8). After tensile testing at room temperature [298 K (25 C)], the fracture surface exhibited
mostly intergranular features along with some flat areas,
especially cleavage-type fracture in the plate-shaped
intermetallics (Figures 6(a) and 7(a)). Some eutectic
silicon precipitates were debonded from the matrix (as
pointed out by red arrow) which was accompanied by
secondary cracks between dendrites (blue arrows)
(Figure 8(a)). Such morphology suggests that there
was a strong interaction between the plastic flow or slip
bands and the eutectic silicon precipitates especially at
grain boundaries leading to a contribution to intergranular cracking. It is also obvious that there is
microporosity (enclosed by white-dashed line) on the
fracture surface of samples tested at room temperature
and higher temperatures as well (Figure 6). Similar types
of fracture behavior were also pointed out by other
researchers for the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with the
addition of Zr, Ti, and V during tensile loading.[17,28]
A different pattern of fracture is observed in the
specimen tested at 473 K (200 C). The flatness of the
fracture surface in Figure 6(b), coupled with reduced
volume fraction of precipitates, suggests a diminished

coefficient and exponent of 9.21 pct and 0.77, respectively, which were significantly higher in the present
investigated alloy in the as-cast condition than the
existing Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with minor additions of Zr, Ti, and V in the T6 state.[28] Thus, it could
be concluded that the present alloy has slightly better
fatigue properties compared to the previously tested T6
tempered Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with minor addition of Zr, Ti, and V.[28]

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(b)

#m

#p

(c)

#p

(d)

Fig. 6SEM micrographs showing the overall tensile fracture surface of studied alloy in as-cast states obtained at different temperatures of (a)
298 K (25 C), (b) 473 K (200 C), (c) 573 K (300 C), and (d) 673 K (400 C). Note: enclosed p and m areas are magnified in Figs. 7 and 8,
respectively.
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role of precipitates on fracture at this temperature. As


reported in Reference 42, the relative weakness of the
grain boundary compared to the room temperature
could be a possible reason for different fracture
mechanism. Fracture on a microscopic scale comprised
cracking of the clusters of Si precipitates and the Zr-TiV-rich intermetallics present in the microstructure. It is
observed that the Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics were present on several cleavage planes (Figure 7(b)). The brittle
crystalline fracture with small areas of plastic deformation is noticed on the fracture surface of the specimen
tested at 473 K (200 C) (Figures 7(b) and 8(b)). Here,
brittle cleavage fracture is dominating up to 473 K
(200 C). Above 473 K (200 C), i.e., at 573 K (300 C),
the fracture surface indicates the brittle-to-ductile transition due to the effect of temperature. In this circumstance, the Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics also played an

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effective roll in fracture behavior of the alloys as seen


from the EDS analysis in Figure 7. At this higher
temperature, interfacial bonding between the matrix and
Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics became weaker which enhanced decohesion of the precipitates from the matrix
resulting in occasionally pull-out of the Zr-Ti-V-rich
intermetallics (Figure 7(c)). This phenomenon is more
frequent for the specimen tested at 673 K (400 C) as
enclosed by red line (Figure 7(d)). It can be attributed to
the different modulus and thermal expansion of the
precipitates (phase #7 in Table II) and matrix, softening
of the matrix, and partial dissolution of the precipitates
(phases # 8 and 9 in Table II) in the matrix. When the
temperature rises, the thermal expansion of the matrix
and the precipitates creates a gradient that increased the
interfacial stress leading to fracture and pull-out of the
precipitates. Also, the microscopic observation at high

EC

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(b)

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(a)

(d)

(c)

Fig. 7SEM micrographs with EDX spectra in a magnified view correspondingly showing the tensile fracture surface (enclosed in Fig. 6 as p) of
studied alloy in as-cast states obtained at different temperatures of (a) 298 K (25 C), (b) 473 K (200 C), (c) 573 K (300 C), and (d) 673 K
(400 C). Note: the areas enclose by white and red lines show the surface pores and pull-out of the precipitates, respectively.
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magnifications revealed that the fracture surface consisted of a population of micro-voids for samples tested
at 573 K (300 C) (Figure 8(c)). The nucleation and
coalescence of the dimples are not visible and the alloy
will flow until cracking is complete. The homogeneous
distribution of micro-voids with different size range was
observed in this condition (Figure 8(c)). When the
temperature increased to 673 K (400 C), the matrix
became much softer and localized plastic deformation
occurred which accumulated the voids and enlarged the
cavity (Figure 8(d)). Thus, the fracture surface at 673 K
(400 C) is dominated by ductile trans-crystalline fracture in the studied alloy.
Figure 9 illustrates the SEM observations of the
polished cross sections of the studied alloy after tensile
testing at different temperatures. As seen in Figures 9(a)
and (b), the tensile test sample shows that secondary
cracking and small amounts of plastic deformation
occurred near the fracture surface during tests at room
temperature and 473 K (200 C). In contrast, with the
increase in the testing temperature above 473 K
(200 C), plastic deformation of the alloy increased
and its fracture mode changed from mixed fracture to
ductile fracture (Figures 9(c) and (d)). At the same time,
several of the secondary cracks are the result of
accumulation of voids generated due to cracking of
precipitates. As seen in Figure 10, the micro-cracking
which is generally parallel to the loading axis occurred in
the intermetallics (indicated by red arrows) and eutectic

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Fig. 8The corresponding SEM micrographs showing the matrix morphology (enclosed in Fig. 6 as m) of the tensile fracture surface of studied
alloy in as-cast states obtained at different temperatures of (a) 298 K (25 C), (b) 473 K (200 C), (c) 573 K (300 C), and (d) 673 K (400 C).

silicon (marked by blue arrows). Multiple cracks were


found mainly in the high-aspect ratio precipitates, due
to strong interfacial bonding between the precipitate and
the aluminum matrix. Occasionally, debonding between
the precipitate and matrix was also seen after tensile
tests at room temperature and at 473 K (200 C). In
contrast, after tensile testing at 573 K (300 C), additional multiple micro-cracking phenomena in the intermetallics were recorded. Those cracked precipitates are
essentially aligning themselves along the loading axis (as
enclosed by green line in Figure 10(c)). Micro-cracks in
precipitates were also revealed in the sample tested at
673 K (400 C). At the same time, precipitates are
displaced from their original position and aligned to the
loading direction (as enclosed by green line in
Figure 10(d)). This is an indication of weak interface
which enhances decohesion and pull-out of the precipitates at higher temperatures.

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2. Analysis of fracture surfaces after LCF


The overall features of the fatigue fracture surfaces
are presented by SEM images in Figure 11. Here, the
crack initiation site and propagation zone for the
studied alloy tested at 0.2 and 0.6 pct of the total strain
amplitude are illustrated. As seen in Figure 11(a), there
are three distinct zones observed on the fracture surface;
i.e., (i) fatigue crack initiation (FCI) zone, (ii) fatigue
crack growth/propagation (FCG) zone, and (iii) final
fracture zone which is adjacent to the uneven FCG zone.

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(c)

(d)

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(a)

It is noticed that with the increasing total strain


amplitude, the size of the propagation zone decreases
(indicated by dashed red line in Figure 11(a)). However,
the fracture surface of the sample tested at a higher
strain amplitude (0.6 pct) shows negligible crack
propagation zone, i.e., resembling room temperature
tensile-like fracture behavior (as discussed in the previous Section IIIC1) due to fast failure (Figure 11(b)).
The higher magnification images depicted in
Figures 11(c) and (d) showed that crack initiation occurred from intrinsic slip band (as marked by red arrow
the small half circle flat surface) and casting defects near
the sample surface, such as a large surface pore (as
enclosed by white line) for the sample tested at a total
strain amplitude of 0.2 pct in Figure 11(c), while a large
near-surface pore initiated the cracks for the sample tested
at the total strain amplitude of 0.6 pct in Figure 11(d).
These locations acted as stress concentrators that initiated
the formation of fatigue cracks.[40,43,44]
The area enclosed by white boxes on the fracture
surface in Figure 11(a) is further magnified and presented in Figures 12(a) through (f), where more detailed
features in the fatigue propagation and fracture zones of
the studied alloy, tested at a total strain amplitude of
0.2 pct, could be observed. It is clearly seen that the
crack propagation zone exhibited fine fatigue striations,
which are surrounded by tear ridges of the grain
boundaries, which are apparent on the fracture surfaces
of the sample tested at a lower strain amplitude (0.2 pct)

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in Figures 12(a) and (b). Another interesting feature


recognized on the fracture surface was the prominent
micro-cliff on which fatigue striation was formed along
the crack propagation plane (Figure 12(a)). These micro-cliffs have a step-like pattern formed inside the grain
generally parallel to the FCG path, which seem to
indicate lateral slippage at the crack tip.[36,45] As
portrayed in Figures 12(c) and (d), the fatigue striations
were also noticed on the Zr-Ti-V-containing precipitates
of the sample tested at the lower strain amplitude of
0.2 pct. As noticed in Figure 12(e), the EDX analysis of
the enclosed area in Figure 12(c) confirms the presence
of Zr-Ti-V-containing precipitates on the fracture surface. It is obvious that multiple fatigue striations
morphology, as indicated by dotted line in Figure 12(d),
were initiated and then overlapped with each other is an
indication of different set of crack propagation paths
through particles, as shown by red-dotted box in
Figure 12(d). The fatigue striations are only possible in
ductile materials. Thus, it can be presumed that the ZrTi-V-containing precipitates are relatively ductile compared to other intermetallics present in this study, which
essentially improved the LCF performance of the alloy.
In the final fracture zone (Figure 12(f)), the abovediscussed tensile features are observed. Also, some
secondary cracks in the matrix were detected in the
stage of the final fracture (Figure 12(f)). Similar features
of LCF fracture characteristics were also observed by
other researcher in cast aluminum alloys.[28,36,40] Also,

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Fig. 9SEM images illustrating the overall view of the polished cross section of the tensile-tested samples near the fracture surface, obtained at
different temperatures of (a) 298 K (25 C), (b) 473 K (200 C), (c) 573 K (300 C), and (d) 673 K (400 C). Note: enclosed areas are magnified
in Fig. 10.

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Micro-voids

(a)

(b)

Author Proof

Micro-voids

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Micro-voids

(c)

(d)

EC

Fig. 10SEM images illustrating the magnified view (enclosed in Fig. 9 by red box) of the polished cross section of the tensile-tested samples,
acquired at different temperatures of (a) 298 K (25 C), (b) 473 K (200 C), (c) 573 K (300 C), and (d) 673 K (400 C). Note: the areas enclosed
by green lines show the displacement of the precipitates.

DISCUSSION

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IV.

The cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy microstructure depends


on the modification of the eutectic silicon, solidification
rate, heat treatment processes, as well as alloy chemistry.
In other words, the processing and compositional
parameters considerably influence the tensile and fatigue
properties of the cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloys. The presented
results are explained in the following sections by
addressing the effects of testing temperatures, yield
strength, and the behavior of precipitates, especially ZrV-Ti-rich phase on the alloy performance.

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618 more details about the development of fatigue striation


619 in the matrix and Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics are
620 documented in our recent publication.[29]

632 A. Influence of Temperature on the Alloy Strength


633
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Present results reveal that Al-Si-Cu-Mg modified


alloys containing Zr, V, and Ti exhibited better tensile
strength compared to reference alloys,[27] at different
temperatures as seen in Figure 2. It is noticed that the
alloy room temperature tensile strength is significantly
higher than the alloy modified with addition of Zr-Ni in
alloy 354. As mentioned by Mohamed et al.,[27] addition

of Ni to the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy has a poisonous effect on


the age hardening which reduces the copper content in
the matrix and lowers the strength of the alloy. In
contrast, the addition of Zr-V-Ti to the Al-Si-Cu-Mg
alloy caused thermally stable precipitates to form during
solidification of the alloy in conjunction with the
copper-containing phases that together increased the
alloy strength. Also, the detrimental Fe-containing
phase reacts with Zr-Ti and forms thermally stable
precipitates which enhance the alloy performance. As
reported in previous studies,[28,40] the remarkable
enhancement in UTS could be attributed to both the
composite-like role of Cu-, Fe-, and Mg-containing Si
precipitates (Figure 1), and the nano-sized trialuminide
precipitates which were uniformly distributed in the
aluminum matrix or along with the eutectic silicon
precipitates. The presence of these micro- and nanosized precipitates (Figure 1) would effectively impede
the movement of dislocations during uniaxial deformation, thus appreciably enhancing the strength of the cast
aluminum alloy (Figure 2). Also, the addition of transition metals containing Zr-V-Ti to Al alloys changes
the morphology of the primary precipitates which can
improve the strength and ductility of the alloys.[16]
Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the bulk-/plateshaped Zr-Ti-V-rich phases improved the as-cast alloy
strength.

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FCG

#i

#iii
(a)

(b)

Porosity

FCI

Author Proof

PR
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#ii

FCI

Porosity

TE

FCG

(c)

(d)

As mentioned above, with the increasing testing


temperature, the tensile strength of Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy
modified with addition of Zr, Ti, and V decreased
linearly. This was primarily due to the change in the
microstructure and the presence of trialuminide precipitates, as also reported in References 14, 16. The
deformation in crystalline materials is directly related to
the generation, motion, and storage of dislocations,
which move at a stress far below that required to deform
a defect-free crystal.[46] Therefore, the improvement of
material properties such as strength relies on creating
internal obstacles to dislocation motion including grain
boundaries, precipitates, and other dislocations.[47,48] As
plastic deformation continues, the density of dislocations increases, causing more frequent interactions that
impede their motion.[49] When the temperature is
increased, the cross-slips are thermally activated by
climbing of dislocations resulting in reduction of
strength of the materials.[7,27] At the same time, grain
boundary sliding is also considered to be a reason for
the reduction of the alloy strength at higher temperatures. However, the strong resistance to the motion
of dislocations, due to the trialuminide precipitates
pinning grain and sub-grain boundaries during all

CO

thermal and mechanical processing of aluminum alloys,


causes the improvement of the high-temperature properties of the alloy.[27,28,35,40,50,51]
Another fascinating phenomenon was observed for
the behavior of intermetallics present on the fracture
surfaces of the studied alloy. As seen in Figures 7 and
8, mixed-type (brittle particle and ductile matrix)
fracture dominated at lower temperature, while ductile-type fracture was identified at higher temperatures.
The brittle fracture may be dominated by silicon
particles and intermetallics, especially Zr-V-Ti-rich
phases. Brittle cleavage and mixed fracture mode with
localized plastic deformation is governing up to 473 K
(200 C). Beyond 473 K (200 C), the fracture surface
indicates the brittle-to-ductile transition due to the
effect of temperature. As discussed by Wang,[52] the
fracture mechanism of the materials can be divided
into three steps: (i) particle cracking which depends on
the localized condition including particle size, particle
shape, particle orientation, activation of dislocation
source, etc., (ii) generation and growth of micro-voids,
and (iii) linkage of micro-voids followed by final
fracture. As schematically represented in Figure 13,
the Zr-V-Ti-rich precipitates cracked during tensile

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Fig. 11SEM images of fatigue fracture surfaces of the samples tested at a total strain amplitude of (a) 0.2 pct and (b) 0.6 pct showing an overall view for cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with addition of Zr-Ti-V and the corresponding fatigue crack initiation sites at higher magnifications, where fatigue cracks initiate at a large surface pore and slip bands (c); clusters of near-surface pores and large surface inclusion (d). Here,
yellow box and red arrows indicate the position of crack initiation sites, while red dashed line separated the crack propagation area. The areas
enclose by white line shows the surface pores. Note that increasing the strain amplitude crack propagation zone decreases. FCI: fatigue crack
initiation, FCG: fatigue crack growth/propagation zone.

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(b)

(a)

Fatigue striation
Micro-cliffs
Dimples

(c)

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Tear ridge

(d)

Author Proof

Tear ridge

TE

(f)

Wt.%
48.22
9.66
9.79
2.59
29.74

EC

Element
Al
Si
Ti
V
Zr

RR

(e)

Fatigue striation

loading. Due to particle cracking, micro-voids are


generated around the particles. Those micro-voids are
connecting with each other, resulting in final fracture.
During tensile loading, particles experience multiple
cracking without any debonding, which is an indication
of the strong interfacial bonding between the particles
and Al-matrix at the testing temperature up to 473 K
(200 C) (Figure 13(b)). However, the fractured particles are debonded from the matrix and pull-out from
the sub-surfaces for the samples deformed at higher
temperature (Figures 7(d) and 13(c)). This can be
attributed by the fact that softening of the solid occurs
with the increase in temperature beyond 0.7Tm (melting
temperature) at which the solid loses the general
properties.[53] At the same time, the dislocations are

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Fig. 12SEM images of fatigue fracture surfaces for cast Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified with addition of Zr-Ti-V samples tested at total strain
amplitude of 0.2 pct showing fatigue striation in matrix (a and b) (as indicated in Fig. 11(a) with i) and precipitates (c and d), (as pointed out in
Fig. 11(a) with ii), (e) EDX analysis of intermetallic (typical #7 as listed in Table II) on the fracture surface and (f) final fracture of the alloy (as
marked in Fig. 11(a) with iii). Note: the dotted lines in (e) are two sets of fatigue striation along the crack propagation direction overlapped
each other as indicated by enclosed red box.

piled up at the interface of the particles and matrix


resulting in debonding and pull-out. Further, the
ductile fracture is determined by the size of dimples,
being governed by the number and distribution of
micro-voids that are nucleated. The microscopic observation at high magnification reveals that the fracture
surface consists of a population of micro-voids (Figures 8(c) and (d)). The sources of voids and resultant
dimples on the fracture surface are attributed to the
fracture of the Zr-V-Ti intermetallic particles. Finally,
it can be concluded that the fracture of the studied
alloy at temperature 673 K (400 C) is related to the
void nucleation and growth. The nucleation is initiated
by the coarse constituent particles and other second
phases present in the alloy microstructure.

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(a)

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#7/8/9

Author Proof

(b)

RR

EC

TE

(c)

CO

Fig. 13A schematic model depicting the successive steps of fracture mechanism of the studied alloy at room temperature (a and b) and high
temperature (a and c) during tensile loading. The #7/8/9 are the precipitates listed in Table II. Note: during tensile loading micro-cracks which
formed micro-voids in matrix were formed. The micro-voids connect with each other leading to the ultimate failure of the alloy.

745 B. Improvement of LCF Performance

The LCF results also showed superior properties over


the existing reference alloys. The improved fatigue life of
the present studied alloy was mainly attributed to the
thermally stable trialuminide phases which significantly
increased precipitate volume fraction and changed
morphology upon introducing more alloying elements
(i.e., Zr, Ti, and V). The obtained cyclic yield strength of
the studied alloy was always higher than the monotonic
yield strengths which indicate the higher hardening and
better dislocation storage capacity in cyclic loading. As
discussed earlier, the hardening behavior of the alloy can
be explained by Hollomon parameters (Eq. [2]). Generally, lower K and n denote the faster velocity of cyclic
hardening, higher plastic deformation resistance, and
lower ductility. It was reported that the cyclic softening
appears at n < 0.1, cyclic stability at n = 0.1, and
cyclic hardening at n > 0.1.[39] The value of n = 0.09
for the studied alloy is greater than 0.1, confirming

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cyclic hardening of the alloy. The values of


K = 474 MPa and n are lower than those for the
reference alloy (n = 0.28 and K = 2393 MPa) and the
A356-T6 alloy (n = 0.24 and K = 1628 MPa),[40]
indicative of a higher hardening rate for the studied
alloy.
For fatigue, a tension-compression process accompanies the whole failure. It is speculated that there exists a
fixed forward and backward movement for some mobile
dislocations at this stage. With the increasing number of
fatigue cycles, the dislocation density gradually increases
and the dislocation entanglement becomes more disorderly, which enhances the resistance of subsequent
dislocation movement and gives rise to the evident
cyclic hardening trend. Also, the effect of the solidification microstructure on the cyclic hardening behavior is
mainly attributed to the interaction between the dislocation and the second phases (eutectic silicon and
intermetallics) or the grain boundaries.[39,54] When the

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rich intermetallics are fractured ahead of the crack tip


without obvious debonding. Thus, the presence of ZrTi-V-rich intermetallics slightly improved the fatigue
performance of the studied alloy.

V.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT

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To improve the high-temperature tensile properties


and low-cycle fatigue performance, the Al-Si-Cu-Mgbase alloy was modified with the addition of Ti, V, and
Zr. From the above-presented results, the following
conclusion can be drawn:
The Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy studied in this work and
modified with addition of Zr, Ti, and V developed a
complex microstructure. The EDX analysis of the Zr-TiV-rich phases showed that Zr always form intermetallics
with other transition metals (Ti and V) and with the
increasing Zr content in the Zr-Ti-V-rich phases, Si and
V content decreases. The developed micro-sized Zr-TiV-rich phases in the studied alloy, Al21.4Si4.1Ti3.5VZr3.9,
Al6.7Si1.2TiZr1.8, Al2.8Si3.8V1.6Zr, and Al5.1Si35.4Ti1.6Zr5.7Fe were calculated from the EDX data.
The tensile tests at different temperatures showed that
the addition of Zr, Ti, and V to the Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy
successfully improved the alloy strength, which had
significantly higher UTS in comparison with the A356
and 354, and the existing Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy modified
with the addition of Zr, Ti, and Ni. It is also noted that
increasing the testing temperature from 298 K to 673 K
(25 C to 400 C) of the present studied alloy decreased
the YS and UTS from 161 to 84 MPa and from 261 to
102 MPa, respectively.
The fatigue life of the studied alloy was considerably
longer than that of the reference alloy A356 and the alloy
with the same base but minor addition of V, Zr, and Ti in
the T6 state, reported in the literature. The cyclic stress
amplitude and plastic strain amplitude were almost
stable at low total strain amplitude of 0.1 pct. Consistently, cyclic hardening occurred at higher strain amplitudes with the extent of cyclic hardening increasing with
the increasing total strain amplitudes from 0.3 to 0.6 pct.
Fractographic analysis of tensile-tested samples
showed that mixed-type (cleavage-type fracture and
brittle fracture of particles and ductile fracture of the
matrix) fracture dominated at lower temperature while
ductile-type fracture was identified at higher temperature. Multiple cracks were observed in the Zr-TiV-rich phases indicating the strong interfacial bonding
between the precipitates and the matrix at temperature
up to 473 K (200 C). However, after increasing the
testing temperature from 473 K to 673 K (200 C to
400 C), debonding and pull-out of cracked intermetallics were identified on the alloy fracture surface.

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial 898


support of the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative 899
ecoEII of Natural Resources Canada at Can- 900

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CONCLUSIONS

EC

cyclic deformation under alternating loading takes


place, the cross-slip ability of dislocation will continuously increase.[39,55] The resistance of dislocation
slipping comes from the boundaries between the Si
phase and the grains, and the refiner grains consequentially shorten the mean free path of dislocation slipping
and thus result in the higher cyclic hardening ability. As
discussed earlier, the LCF performance of materials is
also indicated by the parameters in the equation of
Coffin-Manson-Basquin.[56] Higher values of b and c
indicate higher cyclic strength and ductility of the
materials. The present studied alloy shows a higher
value of c, compared to the existing reference alloy in
the T6 heat-treated condition, indicative of higher
ductility of the alloy; leading to longer fatigue life.
Tensile property also influences the LCF cyclic
hardening behavior of metallic materials, indicative of
higher hardening and better dislocation storage capacity
in cyclic loading. If the monotonic YS is lower and the
UTS is higher, the size of the plastic zone at the crack
will be larger, which will blunt and limit cracks from
propagating by improving the matrix hardening. On the
other hand, the movement of dislocations from cell or
grain boundaries is inhibited which reduces the interaction between the dislocations and precipitates resulting
in the reduction of crack propagation and improvement
of fatigue performance. The studied alloy obtained
comparatively lower YS and consistently higher UTS
compared to the reference alloys (Figure 2). At the same
time, the LCF life also depends on the alloy microstructure. The studied alloy consists of a large number of
alloying elements, which develop a complicated microstructure by forming intermetallic and eutectic phases (listed in Table II). Those intermetallics in
conjunction with the eutectic Si precipitates separate
the aluminum matrix into a large number of tiny
domains (as depicted in Figure 1). During LCF, the
dislocations are moving into those domains of the
aluminum matrix. Thus, the surrounding particles resist
the slip bands or strain localization in the aluminum
matrix which increases the LCF life of the alloy. Thus,
the LCF of the studied alloy is improved slightly.
As seen in Figures 11 and 12, the fatigue crack
preferred to propagate along the boundaries between
the intermetallics and Al-Si eutectics due to debonding
or fracture of intermetallics and Si particles. It is also
noted that the fatigue cracks propagated through the
plate-shaped particles especially Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics. It can be assumed that the stiff intermetallics
could not follow the flexible Al matrix to deform and
thus micro-cracks form at the interface of intermetallics.
These micro-cracks will bring out micro-voids in the
boundaries. These micro-voids in intermetallics or
eutectics accumulate and propagate along their boundaries and finally connect each other to weaken the
boundaries.[57] On the contrary, EDS analysis shows
that most of the facets on the tensile/fatigue fracture
surface are the Zr-Ti-V-rich intermetallics (Figure 12(e)). When the tensile crack propagates in this
Al-Si-Cu-Mg alloy, the intermetallics with different
orientations are actually obstacles to crack growth.
Suffering from the strong crack-tip stress, these Zr-Ti-V-

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PR
O
O
F

metMATERIALS. One of the authors (D.L. Chen) is


grateful for the financial support by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
(NSERC), PREA, NSERC-DAS Award, CFI, and
RRC program. The authors would also like to thank
Q. Li, A. Machin, J. Amankrah, and R. Churaman
for their assistance in the experiments. The authors
also thank Professor S. Bhole for the helpful discussion as well as P. Newcombe, G. Birsan, H. Webster,
D. McFarlan, F. Benkel, M. Thomas, and D. Saleh
from CanmetMATERIALS for casting experiments.

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