A Microstructural Evaluation of Friction Stir Welded 7075 Aluminum Rolled Plate Heat Treated to the Semi-Solid State
Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Sheffield; Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Metals 2018, 8(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/met8010041
Received: 5 December 2017 / Revised: 3 January 2018 / Accepted: 5 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Casting Alloys)
Two rolled plates of 7075 aluminum alloy were used as starting material. The plates were welded using a simultaneous double-sided friction stir welding (FSW) process. One way of obtaining feedstock materials for Semi-solid processing or thixoforming is via deformation routes followed by partial melting in the semi-solid state. As both the base plate materials and the friction weld area have undergone extensive deformation specimens were subjected to a post welding heat-treatment in the semi-solid range at a temperature of 628 °C, for 3 min in order to observe the induced microstructural changes. A comparison between the microstructural evolution and mechanical properties of friction stir welded plates was performed before and after the heat-treatment in the Base Metal (BM), the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ), the Thermomechanically Affected Zone (TMAZ) and the Nugget Zone (NZ) using optical microscopy, Scanning Electron microscopy (SEM) and Vickers hardness tests. The results revealed that an extremely fine-grained structure, obtained in the NZ after FSW, resulted in a rise of hardness from the BM to the NZ. Furthermore, post welding heat-treatment in the semi-solid state gave rise to a consistent morphology throughout the material which was similar to microstructures obtained by the thixoforming process. Moreover, a drop of hardness was observed after heat treatment in all regions as compared to that in the welded microstructure.