A novel method, powder thixoforming, for net-shape forming of the particle-reinforced Aluminum matrix composites in semi-solid state has been proposed based on powder metallurgy combining with thixoforming technology. The microstructural evolution and phase transformations have been investigated during partial remelting of the 2024 bulk alloy, prepared by cold pressing of atomized alloy powders to clarify the mechanisms of how the consolidated powders evolve into small and spheroidal primary particles available for thixoforming. The effect of heating temperature on the resulting semisolid microstructure has also been discussed. The results indicate that the microstructural evolution includes three stages—the initial rapid coarsening of the fine grains within the powders, the formation of continuous liquid layer on the primary particle surface (the original powder), and the final coarsening—that result from the phase transformations of θ→α, α→L, and α→L and L→α, respectively. The coarsening rate of the primary particles is low, and one original powder always evolves into one spheroidal particle with a continuous liquid layer surface. Properly raising the heating temperature is beneficial for obtaining an ideal semisolid microstructure.
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