Swedish industry is a global leader in development and manufacture of automotive and aviation components where the usage of aluminium products is remarkable. In addition to manufacturing aluminium components, casting enables low-cost and low-emission production of complex geometry components with a range of sizes. Aluminium with Si as the major alloying element forms a class of alloys representing the most significant fraction of all cast products, for a wide range of applications due to an excellent combination of castability and mechanical properties, as well as good corrosion resistance, wear resistance and recyclability. The microstructure in Al-Si alloys strongly governs their mechanical properties. Several industrial practices such as eutectic modification and alloying are well-known to improve mechanical properties. Al-Si cast alloys generally suffer a lack of ductility and poor high temperature properties due to presence of either brittle or thermally unstable phases. The aim of this work is to study the explicit role of each microstructural constituent on the behaviour of Al-Si cast alloys at room and high temperatures. The results will accordingly highlight the potential for improvement in properties of such alloys.
Casting defects have an immediate and negative effect on the properties of Al-Si alloys and reducing the overall level of defects substantially improves tensile properties. An increased cooling rate refines all microstructural features and reduces volumetric porosity which leads to substantial improvement in tensile properties (e.g. Rm and εF) at any test temperature. Modification of eutectic Si-particles (through Sr-addition) generally has a positive effect on alloy ductility. Depression in eutectic growth temperature as a result of eutectic modification was found to be strongly correlated to the level of modification irrespective of coarseness of the microstructure.
Addition of transition metals (Ni-Ti-Zr-Cr-V) to Al-Si improves tensile strength, particularly at temperatures above 200 ºC caused by formation of thermally stable intermetallic compounds. Below 200 ºC however, a substantial potential for improvement through solute-reinforcement was obtained.
A physically-based constitutive model with a wide validity range was successfully developed to describe the flow behaviour of Al-Si alloys at different temperatures, as a reliable input for finite element simulation.