Fusion welding of rheocast semi-solid metal (SSM) processed aluminium alloy 7017
Near-net shape casting of wrought aluminium alloys has proven to be difficult due to a tendency towards hot tearing during cooling. Rheocasting, or semi-solid metal (SSM) processing followed by high pressure die casting (HPDC), has recently been shown to be an effective alternative to conventional die casting, yielding near-net shape wrought aluminium alloy castings with less risk of hot tearing. This casting process involves pouring the liquid metal into a processing cup, which is then transferred into a coil for induction stirring and simultaneous forced air cooling. When the metal reaches the semi-solid casting temperature, the resultant slurry is transferred to a high pressure die casting machine and cast to near-net shape. This modifies the ascast microstructure, yielding a more globular primary phase and results in mechanical properties in the -T6 condition closely approaching those of wrought material in the same condition. Little information is currently available on the response of SSM-HPDC material to welding. This project investigated the influence of autogenous laser and gas tungsten arc welding on the microstructure and mechanical properties of aluminium 7017 after rheocasting. It is possible to successfully weld this material without solidification or liquation cracking. The effect of welding on the rheocast microstructure in the heat-affected zone and weld metal was shown, and the hardness and tensile properties of the resulting joints in the as-welded condition were tested and related to the microstructures achieved.