A new severe plastic deformation process, plastic flow machining (PFM), was introduced recently to produce sheet materials with ultrafine and gradient structures from bulk samples in one single deformation step. During the PFM process, a part of a rectangular sample is transformed into a thin sheet or fin under high hydrostatic pressure. The obtained fin is heavily deformed and presents a strain gradient across its thickness. The present paper aims to provide better understanding about this new process via analytical modelling accompanied by finite element simulations. PFM experiments were carried out on square commercially pure aluminum (CP Al) billets. Under pressing, the material flowed from the horizontal channel into a narrow 90° oriented lateral channel to form a fin sheet product, and the remaining part of the sample continued to move along the horizontal channel. At the opposite end of the bulk sample, a back-pressure was applied to increase the hydrostatic pressure in the material. The experiments were set at different width sizes of the lateral channel under two conditions; with or without applying back-pressure. A factor called the lateral extrusion ratio was defined as the ratio between the volume of the produced fin and the incoming volume. This ratio characterizes the efficiency of the PFM process. The experimental results showed that this ratio was greater when back-pressure was applied and further, it increased with the rise of the lateral channel width size. Finite element simulations were conducted in the same boundary conditions as the experiments using DEFORM-2D/3D software, V11.0. Two analytical models were also established. The first one used the variational principle to predict the lateral extrusion ratio belonging to the minimum total plastic power. The second one employed an upper-bound approach on a kinematically admissible velocity field to describe the deformation gradient in the fin. The numerical simulations and the analytical modelling successfully predicted the experimental tendencies, including the deformation gradient across the fin thickness.
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