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Repurposing the θ (Al2Cu) phase to simultaneously increase the strength and ductility of an additively manufactured Al–Cu ...

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Materials Science and Engineering: A
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The Al–Cu–Mn–Zr (ACMZ) cast family of alloys offers unique properties and value propositions for higher strength, higher temperature lightweight components of future vehicles. Previous research has demonstrated trade-offs in the selection of the alloy chemistry in which an increase in Cu content from 6 up to 9 wt% improves hot tear resistance but lowers ductility. However, a recent study has demonstrated that higher-Cu (9Cu) ACMZ fabricated with laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM) results in an increase in both ductility and strength when compared to as-aged microstructure of cast 9Cu alloys. The mechanisms of differing mechanical performance of the cast and AM ACMZ alloys are elucidated in the current paper through the utilization of in situ high energy x-ray diffraction (HEXRD) tensile testing wherein lattice strains of different phases are calculated and correlated to their stresses. The ACMZ alloys consisted of theta () and theta prime () phases (both Al2Cu in nominal composition) within an aluminum matrix. The larger micron-size phase which decorated the grain boundaries in 9Cu ACMZ cast alloys recorded small lattice strains, while the submicron, homogeneously distributed θ phase in the 9Cu ACMZ AM alloy recorded considerably higher lattice strains. The maximum stress reached in the θ phase for the cast 9Cu alloy was found to be ∼280 MPa, which was lower than the AM 9Cu alloy which registered a maximum stress of ∼1.4 GPa. These measurements indicate that delayed fracture of the finer intermetallic phases simultaneously improves the ductility and strength of AM 9Cu alloy relative to the cast 9Cu alloy, which exhibits early fracture of the larger intermetallic particles.