Implementing the concept of mixed construction in modern automotive engineering requires the joining of sheet metal or extruded profiles with cast components made from different materials. As weight reduction is desired, these cast components are usually made from high-strength aluminium alloys of the Al-Si (Mn, Mg) system, which have limited weldability. The mechanical joinability of the cast components depends on their ductility, which is influenced by the microstructure. High-strength cast aluminium alloys have relatively low ductility, which leads to cracking of the joints. This limits the range of applications for cast aluminium alloys. In this study, an aluminium alloy of the Al-Si system AlSi9 is used to investigate relationships between solidification conditions during the sand casting process, microstructure, mechanical properties, and joinability. The demonstrator is a stepped plate with a minimum thickness of 2.0 mm and a maximum thickness of 4.0 mm, whereas the thickness difference between neighbour steps amounts to 0.5 mm. During casting trials, the solidification rates for different plate steps were measured. The microscopic investigations reveal a correlation between solidification rates and microstructure parameters such as secondary dendrite arm spacing. Furthermore, mechanical properties and the mechanical joinability are investigated.
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