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Creep deformation and cavitation in an additively manufactured Al-8.6Cu-0.4Mn-0.9Zr (wt%) alloy

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Additive Manufacturing
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Creep deformation and cavitation were investigated at 300 ºC in both tension and compression for an additively manufactured Al-8.6Cu-0.5Mn-0.9Zr (wt%) alloy in the as-fabricated state and after various aging treatments (aging at 300 °C/200 h or 350 °C/24 h and overaging at 400 °C/200 h). Creep mechanisms at 300 °C were determined by relating the measured creep response to corresponding microstructural and X-ray computed tomography observations. In compression, alloys in the as-fabricated and two aging conditions exhibited similarly high creep resistance. Overaging (400 °C/200 h) led to substantial coarsening of intragranular θ-Al2Cu precipitates and an expected drop in their Orowan strengthening contribution. In tension, minimum strain rates comparable to those in compression were obtained at any given stress; however, upon accumulation of some plastic strain in the matrix, creep cavities started to form, leading to accelerated tertiary stage creep deformation and rupture. Cavitation occurred exclusively along melt pool boundaries due to locally enhanced diffusion enabled by (ⅰ) large grain-boundary area in adjacent fine-grained zones and (ⅱ) localization of creep strain in nearby heat-affected zones. Although cavity growth was initially diffusion-controlled, its rate was determined by matrix creep rate, consistent with constrained cavity growth mechanisms. This study reveals how microstructural complexities induced by the additive manufacturing process affect the creep and cavitation behavior of Al-Cu-Mn-Zr alloys. The underlying creep and cavitation mechanisms uncovered in this study point to pathways that improve the high-temperature properties of additively manufactured alloys.